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No sermons, please

No sermons, please
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First Published: Sat, Mar 29 2008. 12 33 AM IST

Updated: Sat, Mar 29 2008. 12 33 AM IST
Advertisers love our luxury issue. You don’t have to look beyond its size and the sexy, glossy newsprint to know that’s true. But I’m not sure all of you are as receptive to the idea of an entire issue devoted to the high life. In fact, I know we’re going to receive a few sermons about the incongruity of a luxury issue in a country like India.
So, let me hop on the pulpit before you do.
Forget about India for a second. Should we be showcasing luxury at a time when the word “subprime” has made it to the popular lexicon? Let’s see — in the last fortnight alone, UBS chairman Marcel Ospel’s pay was slashed by 90% after his bank wrote off billions of dollars; Kemal Dervis, the United Nations rep in charge of eradicating poverty, raged against “super bankers” who he believes are responsible for a slowdown in global economic growth that will delay the UN’s targets to halve extreme poverty by 2015; and stock markets actually rejoiced when Goldman Sachs Group’s first quarter earnings fell only by half.
In Germany, the mood is firmly anti-rich. In Britain, everyone’s gunning for the “non-doms” (non-domestic or foreign entrepreneurs who can take advantage of tax laws). In the Guardian newspaper, Robert Peston, author of the best-selling Who Rules Britain? How the Super-Rich Are Changing Our Lives, describes a non-dom as “all Bentley and Cipriani” (a favourite hangout of hedge fund managers). “He would be a tax-avoiding plutocrat who does billion-dollar deals from an office in Mayfair and occasionally loans his paintings to the Tate,” Peston says.
Then there’s that survey by two Italian researchers. They found that (surprise, surprise) the happiness quotient has not risen in the past 50 years even though incomes have almost trebled.
In India, everyone has a poverty POV. We love to debate what makes a person poor, if globalization will really have any impact on the extreme poverty we see around us and whether the finance minister’s Rs60,000 crore lottery for farm loan defaulters will even begin to fix the Indian agriculture crisis. It also looks certain now that our long free ride with Indian stocks and real estate won’t last much longer.
And yes, at some point, our children or their children are likely to participate in a global war for water, food and space. In short, we live in revolutionary, world-changing times.
But Lounge is not a prophet of doom. It’s your weekend escape. Your switch-off time. Your breathe-easy companion (or lover).
And don’t forget, poverty or not, luxury isn’t going anywhere. India and China have already begun their steady crawl to global centre stage. There are fortunes to be made. There’s money to be spent.
Enjoy the luxury issue.
Write to lounge@livemint.com
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First Published: Sat, Mar 29 2008. 12 33 AM IST