Mera joota hai Japani,
Yeh patloon Englishtani,
Sar pe lal topi Roosi…
Forget that it was circa 1955. Forget that it was Raj Kapoor á la
Charlie Chaplin tramp.
Forget that he was a penniless vagabond, content with the ‘small things’ in life.
Wipe off all pre-conceived notions and sing again; probably the image you will conjure up is that of a modern-day yuppie. That is today’s Indian for you.
He is a walking, talking advertisement for the latest brands. He gives a new meaning to the phrase‘brand ambassador’! Armed with a swanky mobile, latest four-wheel drive, and suitably decked in designer wear; he’s all set to take on the world.
Thanks to globalization, India has opened her floodgates to foreign companies and brands. With a burgeoning population of one billion plus and a booming economy, India is the market to capture. Consumerism seems to rule the roost. And no wonder. With the explosion of media, we are constantly at the receiving end of vigorous campaigning and advertising. And today, armed with a hefty pay packet, the yuppie has innumerable spending options. And surprisingly (at least for me), India has been pushed into the league of the most brand conscious countries globally. India comes at the third place in this survey, at the heels of Greece and Hong Kong.
A news channel recently termed this phenomena ‘affluenza’
; and rightly so. We are becoming richer…too soon; too fast. The filthy rich have the ‘got it, flaunt it’
syndrome. The flip side is the increasing tendency to gravitate towards brands. And woes betide you, if you don’t know the brands. “Arma…what?”
– and you will get disbelieving stares. “Gooki?”-
) and you will be ridiculed!
And that explains the booming ‘mall culture’. Everyone is out to grab a share from the ‘affluence’ pie. “Niche is the new mass”, screamed the cover page of a business magazine. Companies are targeting the ultra-rich in order to boost their bottom lines. Profit by increasing sales volumes is passé. Premium pricing and exclusivity is in.Move over adults and teens. Tweens are the next big thing. “Catch ‘em young”, goes an adage and the companies are taking it to heart. Disney has already struck gold with Hannah Montana and Barbie. The collectibles are selling like hot-cakes and has left the teens gasping for more. Add the passing on of guilt money, and we have a recipe for disaster. Quality time not spent with kids is settled with ‘pocket money’, leaving children in the driver’s seat. They are far more aware of choices at their disposal, and now have the resources to indulge. Subsequently, consumerism has trickled down to the very base.
What is more disturbing is what eventually comes out of this- exhibitionism
. Everyone is fixated with showing-off their priced possessions. Add to this concoction, the off-shoots of such a lifestyle. Now we even have something called Oniomania
(A medical term for a shopaholic). Oniomania, can now replace diabetes as a ‘rich man’s disease’. What more can happen, only time will reveal.
Back to the song:
“Phir bhi dil hai Hindustani…”