Thursday, August 30, 2012

It’s us, only about Us

“Mumbai (Financial Times) bureau chief James Crabtree takes a test ride on an Aston Martin, the latest luxury car entrant to the Indian market. He ponders why India's rich will buy cars like these despite a hefty price tag and the often poor state of roads.  (2m 14sec)”

The video above from the Financial Times, and the splendid explication says a lot about us Indians: not to mean only the super-rich Indians who have their ways of feeling powerful alongside the brands on offer. Theirs is also not about buying to celebrate the superior engineering or even aesthetics — hard as this may be to believe. I mean those on the lower rungs who are enamored with the idea of brand, the possibility that something is there for the having. That feeling of being suffused and thrilled on being able to feel and feel more desire. 

What is this willingness to pay double and triple for cars which would leave many other wealthy individuals outside India do a double take? As I recently mentioned to a very, very wealthy Indian visitor to NY: How is it that one can buy an expensive car, with a high Import Tax, and other tariffs (in the past it was 350%), but have serious reservations of giving a well deserved raise of Rs. 500 to the driver. Rs. 500 is about $10, but should not be seen in Western terms although its not a lot. I was met with complete silence, suggesting a surprise on the part of this individual at having encountered someone who was alien to their cultural creed. There are many such examples. 

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