A couple of months ago, I saw a newspaper advertisement of a renowned real estate firm. It had a picture of a young girl playing golf in a plush green field. The advertisement read, “Don`t you want your children to improve their lifestyles?”
The obsession of the upper middle class to ensure a respectable ‘standard of living’ for their wards has resulted into the entire advertising industry minting money through what has recently become the cash cow of the Indian Inc – the Lifestyle Factor (LSF).
Real estate companies are coming up with projects in suburbs and inviting their target consumers, the upper middle class, to invest there. A sports complex, a club and even shuttle services can be bracketed under the term ‘facilities offered’ but providing an entire golf course is too much of a luxury. Golf has always been a game of the elite, primarily because of the ownership of one of the most valuable commodities under the sun – land.
On the other hand, a sport like boxing has quite often seen participation from lower income groups. Players from backward countries like Cuba and backward Indian states like Manipur have made their mark at the Olympic level. Since boxing does not require any land or expensive equipment, even the have-nots can afford it. In fact, it is the land that indirectly contributes to aggression – a prerequisite tool of this combative game. The unevenness of land forces the people living there to employ extra energies into doing even the most routine of their chores, thus turning them into more resistant players. That too, without any gym or protein shakes, in the most organic manner.
These days, parents prefer to see golfers in their kids, rather than boxers. They believe in supplying handouts to their not-so-little ones, rather than leaving them on their own to learn from their follies. This is evident in the urban sphere where expensive gadgets like IPhones and Macs are showered upon the teenagers at such a premature age that it takes a toll on their independent critical faculties. They become handicapped in the absence of their digital toys as information no longer remains accessible at a stone`s throw away. The golfers in them get dazed when their clubs are replaced by boxing gloves.
Another similar case is that of daily commuting. Riding in a golf cart on uneven surface area never makes good drivers. They only make impatient drivers. Underage driving in big cars is no rare sight in the cities. But so is the reportage of rash driving cases by rich drunk brats. On the other hand, public transport like local trains, buses and metros inculcate discipline among the passengers. Patience is a virtue best learnt while waiting in the queues.
Some rich parents invest more in the beauty of their daughters rather than in the education. Their girls spend more time in spas than at school. The investment does pay off as the parents get a profitable return in the form of a richer son-in-law. And the daughters get promoted from being trophy daughters to trophy wives. They are neither highly qualified to work nor well versed with household chores. They delegate earning responsibilities to hubbies and the duties of raising up children to nannies. Consequently, they go on to become self-proclaimed ‘Socialites’. This is what economists describe as the Great Invisible Force – a large chunk of the working age population choosing not to contribute to the economic growth of the country. Imagine if Mary Kom was born in an upper class family in Mumbai. Would she still be the same athlete that we know her as today? Or would she be a Page-3 socialite married to a rich golfer-cum-tycoon?
The scariest part of this fairy tale is that the kids of golfers will grow up to be the same parents and raise more golfers in turn. The gap between the golfers and the boxers will continue to widen, all thanks to the obsession with LSF. We, the people of a Socialite India will soon see the auction of these boxers. While the golfers cherry pick them for the Indian Boxing League, their children will continue to indulge in reckless car accidents without any fear of serious repercussions.