India's Rich and Their Behavior In The 21st Century

India's Rich and Their Behavior In The 21 st Century

At one time, the rich all over the world believed in ostentation. Rolex watches, expensive suits, and flashy cars were the norm. However, the 21 st century has seen something of a revolution in the behavior of the globe’s wealthy. In the modern technology-led age, the rich have begun to take a more subtle approach to their lifestyle.

These days, it isn’t only the way that money is made that is different, but also the way that the rich spend their earnings. Capital heavy investment is no longer required to achieve monetary success. Companies in this digital era are built solely on algorithms and ideas, not on machinery, and for those who are lucky and savvy, it’s possible to rise meteorically in just a short space of time through both wealth and profit maximization.

Along with this change has come another, less obvious alteration. The bling and material wealth money buys were once the typical marks of an individual’s social standing. However, this is no longer the case in many countries around the world.

Rather than indulging in expensive vacations in luxury resorts, the new breed of independently wealthy people is just as likely to be found flying economy class or sleeping in a regular B&B with their family. Stealth Wealth has become the new capitalist code.

However, is this the case in India? It seems that, although in countries like the USA those who are super-wealthy are now working on hiding their affluence effectively behind a toned-down façade, in Asia there is still a drive towards ostentatious displays of wealth.

The New Capitalist Code

A new form of capitalism has been shaped by today’s technology-forward era , and, in turn, the club of the wealthy elite has developed a new code of conduct. Whereas conspicuous consumption was once the ideal, today, goods that mark wealth have lost a lot of their charm. Mass production, rising incomes, and modern capitalism have all made conspicuous consumption mainstream, and now that the access threshold has dropped, the super-rich has decided to take a different course of action.

Discreet consumption has now become in vogue. Investing in social programs, or philanthrocapitalism has become a buzzword for the world’s wealthy. Giving money is now a badge of honor, and rather than purchasing more materials goods, this group now engages in more inconspicuous consumption, buying things that improve their quality of life, buy them more time to spend with loved ones, and give them more positive life experiences instead of just more bling.

In India, this hasn’t yet permeated through every level of elite society. Although some of India’s super-rich are beginning to acknowledge their responsibilities to those who are less fortunate and are taking steps to adjust the wealth balance in their country, others are still eager to show off their good fortune. The top 10% of India’s population holds an astounding 77% of the country’s wealth, and these few are determined to showcase their riches. Ostentatious weddings, spectacular homes, and expensive cars are just the tips of the Indian millionnaire’s iceberg.

The Decline Of Overt Materialism

The stealth wealth trend is largely a global phenomenon, and it’s especially interesting to see when viewed in contrast with the behavior of the rich during the 20 th century. Just a couple of decades ago, the pinnacle of wealth was buying a car that would turn heads on the roads and wearing a suit hand-made by a top designer. Today, though, creating the appearance of living within your means while enjoying an extremely healthy bank balance behind the scenes is standard practice. The super-rich may have habits that allow them to retain and grow their wealth , but they keep them behind closed doors. India, though, is lagging behind in this trend. Although some wealthy Indians are now considering taking a more philanthropic approach, there is still a lingering love of gold, bling, and dramatic statements of wealth.

The New Middle Class

Increasingly, the wealthy around the world no longer view themselves as the elite. Rather, they see themselves as middle class. They promote values associated with middle class living such as having a strong work ethic and prioritizing family values. Disciplined consumption is key, as is raising a new generation of children who don’t feel entitled. Will this approach eventually find its way to India? Will those Indians who have been religiously investing in the best long-term dividend stocks for years and who are now able to sit back and live off their dividends in impressive style begin to demonstrate a more humble attitude in the near future?

If the global shift in attitude is anything to go by, it’s likely that they will, although it seems that the time has not come yet for India’s rich to give up their fancy cars and Rolex watches. Perhaps in a few more years, we’ll begin to see the difference in Indian society that we’re already witnessing elsewhere in the world.