Chucking a brand-new laptop into the family swimming pool to see if it was indeed waterproof, to barking into the phone to call the domestic help to raise the curtains that are two feet away from the bejeweled GenZ hand, to deliberately smashing a new phone after a fight with the parents. These are just some stories of kids in a premier Delhi school known for its fleet of uber luxury cars in the morning and early evening school drop and pick up hours. As one cohort of the younger millennials and early gen Z move toward the mid to late 20s, there is a worried group of parents who are watching in mounting horror at what their deeply loved raja betas and rani bitiyas are turning into. Bored, woke and high maintenance who need brands, clubs and luxury holidays to just survive, this bunch of rich young adults are still dependent on their parents for the lifestyle they take for granted.
Nikhila Chawla (name changed) is 25. She is a post graduate who carries very stringent views on gender equality and patriarchy. She is vocally politically far left. But is unable to find a job that earns anything, let alone sustain her lifestyle that befits the daughter of a rich Mumbai doctor. Chawla totally fails to see the contradiction of her woke views, her expensive habits and her reality. Two generations ago her situation would not have been an issue, since an arranged marriage would have solved the income problem. But this age cohort grew up with the new ideas of liberation and are sensitive to issues of gender and patriarchy but see absolutely no conflict on being dependent on the father’s income and wealth. Of being a ‘comrade’ while sipping sparkling water at the latest happening hub in town that she does not pay for.
It is a thin sliver of population. They account for just 8% of the 286 million households (1.3 billion people). But even 8% adds upto more than a 100 million affluent. This is a cohort that is both very visible and audible since the really rich prefer to stay quiet and the aspirants are busy working. A BCG Report puts this cohort to have grown at an average annual rate of 9% over the decade ending 2018. Of course, in a country of 1.3 billion, it would be wrong to typecast an entire generation with a broad brush. This story is just about one sliver of the population not the entire cohort. The opposite stories of the same generation of parents pushing for performance are equally strong.
This is the wedge of population that benefitted the most in relative terms from India’s 1991 reform. They were ready with the degrees and the fire in the belly to make the transition from aspirants to affluent happen. This generation grew up in a socialist country, lining up for water, milk, telephones, scooters and most other things. They gave it all they had once opportunity arrived in India and began living the dream of an upper middle-class life. Once they achieved wealth, they were determined that their kids would not repeat their own drudgery. This gave rise to helicopter parenting where problems were zapped out of sight even before they became manifest in their kids’ lives. But the newly affluent forgot that it was the desperate hard work that gave them the wealth boost, but by wrapping the kids in cotton wool they were taking away a key ingredient of success – fire in the belly.
The indulgence has had very different outcomes than imagined. Over lunch Rajesh Sethi (name changed), a rich Delhi professional tells me matter of factly, that it is the father’s net worth that now decides the education destination of the kids. He had in mind his son who wanted not just to go abroad to study but was choosing the most expensive course and city plus lifestyle expenses of course.
It would be wrong to blame the kids since they grew up with the promises of a good life forever murmured over the years by parents who just wanted the kids to be happy and stress free. Being happy also meant not working very hard to crack the very tough higher education entry exams in India, because papa would pay for an under-graduation degree in the best of the party capitals of the world. Indian parents, according to RBI data have forked out almost $5 billion in higher education fees in 2019-20 and another $2.4 billion for ‘maintenance of close relatives’. India spent 27% of its foreign exchange spent by individuals in a year on sending kids abroad to study and another 18% to maintain them.
Fire in the belly was what got the newly rich Indian rich and when they see their off-spring listless and entitled they worry about their future. Parental wealth will get them through but in an aspiring country like India with contenders for the pie rising out of the soil faster than before, the life skills needed to stay afloat might be missing. The grim realization that money is the goal but not the destination is just now dawning on the parents of the now not-so-young raja betas and rani bitiyas.
The real challenge for newly affluent parents is to bring up children who are aware of their privilege and are willing to use it to actually make a difference rather than just being keyboard and hashtag warriors. Not having money brings with it a set of problems. Having it, brings a whole new world of challenges. And there are somethings that money cannot buy – having sorted kids is just one of them.
Monika Halan is India’s trusted personal finance writer, speaker and author who helps families get their money decisions right.
Reblogged this on Reena Saxena.
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यह सारे “राजा बेटा और रानी बिटिया” को घी में पाला गया है, मिट्टी में नहीं, उसी सब का परिणाम है
I am glad I was able to win scholarships that paid for two Master’s degrees in the US, The second Master’s degree led to a 1-year teaching stint in France, which has given me a 36-year old career in teaching languages! I never had the problems your “woke” youngsters deal with!
Isnt this how generally Indian scenario works. If one generation has earned enough to sustain a few generations (under assumption that future generations will contribute if not erode entire wealth created) the next generation doesn’t really contribute (unless pushed by their parents – earlier generation). Thereafter, the third generation will again work or may have to work coz the 2nd generation spent most of the fortune and did not contribute anything at all.
That’s exactly and of course the problem with uber rich – who cares – Generation Z kids of very wealthy and affluent parents with serious cultural and societal value deficit family settings. Yelling at domestic help to draw the curtain which is less than 1 foot away is a new culture. But who cares as long as Papa and Mama pay the bills.
Race to send children abroad for a namesake degree, spending millions of your hard earned money on such degrees is bad parenting actually. Few days back my son wondered why many of his classmates are leaving for New York and he is struggling to clear competitive exams of India. Self esteem and confidence after you achieve something will be worth all this effort in teenage was my reply.
Reblogged this on ASHUTOSH SHARMA.
Amazing! Helps reflect on the parenting I went through where every rupee earned was valued and only mindful spending was encouraged, along with a habit of savings!
A huge advantage I had over so many other First Generation Immigrants who come to Canada, to have the fire in my belly to start from scratch and make a life of it! 🙏🏻
Awesome article Monika!
It’s a reality check for to be parents of such genre.
It’s not only for the affluent class but also for the not so affluent middle class children who have had their childhood fed by ever serving parents. Not allowing them to earn their privileges and money and gifts. Gifts have become a mandatory duty of parents, in this pseudo social standing.
In all the children get things on platter without knowing or working to know their items with.
A future bleak fir the very same generation.
Very Good article but you have not mentioned that when this Raja Betas and Rani Bityas enter corporate word with there sense of entitlement how they ruin careers of others and make big elephants fall
Nothing but the truth!
Reblogged this on SAM'S BLOG and commented:
A necessary read
These raja Betas and Rani Bitiyas definitely ruin the overall environment of working in a corporate world unless that corporate belongs to them/their parents (is that not the principal reason of failure of many businesses in the second/third generation because of this arrogance and entitlement syndrome) and their career also.
The first thing Indian parents need to stop is making their kids woke. Who are these “feminists”, “LGBTQ activists”, “Climate Activists” etc and going and protesting everywhere, giving TED talks. Who pays them?
There will always be a natural evolution of priorities alongwith more material comfort – part chaotic, part hypocritical, part organic – until each person finds their own sustainable equilibrium with their lives and the world around them
When the ‘work hard to do well’ in life is taken to its extreme – it also needs to extreme competition, high stress, widespread unhappiness and a distancing from and destruction of nature
For a start, less than 1% of Indians would be considered anywhere near affluent, considering that a net worth of £60k places an Indian in the top 1%. Secondly, it does not cost millions to send a student abroad. I’m sure there are more errors, but why bother finding them. This isn’t news or cultural commentary of any substance. It’s baseless political opining.
Yes, in a democracy there will always be a slow poison being injected in the society by either some gullible social activists or a mala fide intentioned social campaign to malign Indian culture, democracy and value systems and also to weaken the national fabric.
Excellent perspective and very insightful
Children soak values early in life and the behaviors of the parents specially with to material things leaves a lasting impression. How to deal with tempting offers, peer pressure can be only taught at home with appropriate responses from parents to their ability to cope with pressures and challenges. If the father believes in buying the most expensive watch or pen or clothes how can the children not take that as a norm? These rich kids that blow their parents money are Frankenstein created by the parents. Inculcating a spiritual orientation will help as a shield to protect them.
You have posted a perfact content Thanks
Yes and No. I have examples (of rich doctors and their kids) from both the sides!
Some are spoilt & woke. And some others are as enterprising as their parents. All depends on their bringup…
There’s another side to this story. The parents are also too scared to let their children venture out and make choices without at first having the experience. This is something like; don’t get into the pool unless you know swimming.
Monika. Excellent, almost all of it is true. Thanks, Anamitra Chatterjee
Very well written, apt and in line with the times !
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Honestly, this is more a reflection on the parents than the children. Without looking at how the parents themselves role model what they do with the wealth, it’s not really fair to just dump this on the kids.
Do parents only accumulate more and more status markers, act entitled with those that are less privileged, and obsess about displaying their wealth to neighbours and family? What are the human values that are important to the parents and how are they communicating it to their children? Preaching does not help. No amount of “when I was young I had fire my belly” stories will not help.
There is absolutely no problem with having money. But what is that money going to be used for? That matters a lot. Children see parents using their wealth and affluence a certain way, and model exactly that in other contexts. To understand what a child does what he/she does, look at the parent, not the child.