By city markets we generally refer to the retail market where we purchase our daily requirements and sundry needs; not the wholesale market which supplies goods to small dealers. The first thing that strikes us in an ordinary market-place is perhaps the noise made by buyers and sellers trying to outbid each other. Fish market, perhaps, is every-where equally noisy, - as the proverbial billingsgate of London suggests. But an Indian market all over the country is filled with a crowd of buyers and sellers, haggling and haggling over prices, r pushing and jostling to get the best offer. The sellers shout their goods at the top of their voices; the buyers quarrel over quality and weight and price with equal vigor. Usually there is plenty of good humor; greetings are exchanged and jokes are bandied about. But sometimes ugly quarrels do break out to the annoyance of the more peach-loving among them. In such cases the more reasonable ones intervene and peach is restored before any mischief is done. But quarrel or no quarrel, the noise if great, for everyone seems determined to be heard before everyone else.
Work at a market starts early, even before daybreak. Girts and Lorries bring loads of fish and meat to the vendors. These have to be delivered and distributed to the different shops. Usually, nonperishable vegetables, fruits and eggs are imported overnight. But green vegetables are brought early in the morning. When one considers how complex the organization of a market is, one wonder not at the noise made, but at the smooth and efficient working of the machinery.
City markets and built and arranged more or less on a uniform pattern. Stalls are classified according to the good they deal in. vegetables, fish, meat, groceries, stationeries, clothing, - all have their respective dealers, and each class of vendors has a segment allotted to them. Those who carry of business outside the shed provided, sit in groups according to the goods sold by them. This of course is not a peculiarity of Indian markets alone. The arrangements favor both buyer and the seller. It favors the seller by bringing the prices is ensured and choice according the quality of goods is rendered easy.
In our cities markets are generally of two types. Some have been established and managed by municipalities; others belong to private ownership. The former are a civic utility institution; the latter are profit-earning. Nowadays, of course, even the private markets have to submit to submit to municipal control and direction. But the owners are not interested in spending money for their improvement or their proper management. They are very often filthy and insanitary.
The administration of markets differs in the two types. In private markets, the owners collect the revenue, and carry out only such repairs as may adversely affect their revenues. Hence it may be said that in these markets there is hardly any administration. As a result these markets lack in cleanliness, and shopping is uncomfortable. But in municipal markets, the municipal authorities are responsible. Hence these are cleaner and the management is more efficient. The market superintendent often acts as referee and arbitrator in disputes between buyers and sellers. This has a check of sharp practice. A modern market is also under the supervision of health officers and food inspectors. Where shopkeepers are less scrupulous, the strictest vigilance has to be maintained.
An unwelcome feature of city markets in modern India is that often, due to over-crowding sellers overflow into the pavements and even road-ways. These vendors are an obstruction to traffic, unsightly to the eye, and unhygienic. They are a nuisance. They need regulation and control.
The markets in our cities need considerable improvement. There must be greater cleanliness. A stricter vigilance should also be exercised so that business in conducted on honest principals. A cynical Greek said that a market was a place set apart where men could deceive each other. Obviously this must not be so, both the quality and the quantity of the goods supplied should maintain a certain standard and be available at a fair price. In a modern market there should be cold-storage arrangements where excess meat, fish and vegetables may be held over without harm to the consumer of loos to the seller. That will help the standardization of price by ensuring regulated supplies and eliminating wastage.