If I were to talk solely in Indian context, without claiming to have the knowledge of how much it applies to the western world, I would say that recent events substantiate the title of my article.
What am I referring to? India has progressed in leaps and bounds in terms of consumerism. We are a hot market for most of the global players/sellers. We love all the good things in life, as much as anyone else around the world does. Even people belonging to a low-income group and daily wage earners tote around a mobile phone. Each family member from this group owns a personal mobile. No one any longer equates poverty with virtue.
I am reminded of the times of Indian Film Industry, pre-independence and even post-independence until the 1980s, when films relied on the formula of rich versus poor. When rich were ruthless, malevolent, and blood sucking feudal with low moralities. In contrast, a poor set-up had moral high ground, higher value system, sacrificial traits, love, and benevolence oozing from each pore. A protagonist, living in this circumstance, was highly intelligent, educated, brimming with bright ideas, skilful, but without the proper opportunity. The films followed the common Hindu philosophy of contentment under every circumstances, without yearning for wealth. In the morality duel, the poor won and the rich sought absolution or were jailed for the misdemeanours. The films ended on a moral note.
However, in the current scenario, when we are an absolute consumer market, and being rich or aspiring for a better future is no longer a taboo, how can people be manipulated by a common man act? We have second largest group of billionaires in India, a thriving middle and upper-middle class who is brand conscious, and our urban population who is happy to flaunt. How then can a Prime Minister, with a good taste, with no reason to hoard money, with no future generations to save for, with a fondness to dress well, can be resented by the people from brand-conscious upper middle class? How can another man pass off the act of ordinary person when his family holidays are spent abroad, and defining piece of garment is designer and not something picked up from the local market? Don’t the people love these gimmicks? We may acquire the most comfortable lifestyle, wear trendy clothes, carry technologically advanced gadgets, drive good cars; nonetheless, we will expect our leaders to be apologetic of their better tastes and lifestyles. Leaders are expected to appear as khadhi-wearing, sacrificial saints, irrespective of the Swiss bank accounts with reserves to last generations. It is all about perceptions. Rich is bad (if you have the money and we cannot see it, it is okay) and poor is moral (even if you commit all kinds of crime, as long as you are not caught).
I would much rather watch #KaranJohar brand of movies of rich, affluent, and happy, soaked in family love. At least, here is some life to aspire for! Forsaking material ambitions and seeking spiritual awakening, as per my favourite Book, Bhagavad Gita, is an ideal state. Go for it. But, people who are busy spiritually have no time to waste on noticing and criticizing others. If you are not them, then stop critiquing those you can be successful, either spiritually, or materially, or both. Focus on your personal growth. If you could spend enough time on self constructively, instead of wasting on being the bastion of righteousness, you would benefit tremendously as a person.
||Sarvam Sri Krishna Arpanamastu||