New Internationalist

India’s elites have a ferocious sense of entitlement

January 2013

A revealing set of US studies has got Urvashi Butalia thinking about how the rich behave in Delhi.

My office is located in an urban village in the heart of Delhi. Originally surrounded by fields where people grew crops, these areas now house apartment blocks and shopping malls. All that’s left of the old village is the cluster of houses in which many of the erstwhile residents live, and where a few small traders have set up offices and shops. Some old practices remain though, and there’s a strong sense of community. Come evening, houses in Shahpur Jat empty as women and children spill out on to the narrow streets where a village haat – a market where you can get fresh vegetables, fruit, fish, eggs, plastic goods and virtually anything else you care to name – springs up. Or at least, that’s how it was until about a year ago. I still remember the day that marked the beginning of the end of this little daily ritual.

Babu Babu / Reuters
Privilege looms large in the southern Indian city of Chennai. Babu Babu / Reuters

It was around 6 o’clock on a late summer day, not yet dusk. As people shopped and went from cart to cart selecting the best and sometimes the cheapest, cars and auto-rickshaws negotiated the narrow gaps between them, taking care to avoid children and animals.

Then along came a large SUV, driven by a young and obviously wealthy man. He honked loudly for people to get out of his way; no-one really bothered. He tried again, he leaned out of the car and shouted, he revved up his car. No effect: the cart standing nearby was doing brisk business, another one went past and gently grazed his car. Suddenly, before anyone could realize what was happening, this young man leapt out, caught hold of the cart laden-with-onions standing in front of his car, tipped it over, spilling its contents on to the road, lifted the heavy metal scales and hurled them at the vendor, who just managed to duck and escape being badly injured. People scurried away, the young man stalked off, climbed unhurriedly into his car and drove off. Since that day, the village market has disappeared, the people are too frightened to come on to the road, children don’t play there and cars can now drive freely down it.

This isn’t an unusual scene in India and it’s not about road rage. It’s about being rich, and the privilege, callousness and arrogance that comes with it. It’s something I’ve always wondered about: the rich have so much, what does this wealth do to their minds that they always want more, they don’t want anyone else to have anything? Indeed, why does wealth make them lose all sense of humanity and compassion?

Let me tell you another story: my neighbour in the upper-middle-class area where I live is a man who owns luxury hotels. His house is huge, but no sooner had he moved in than he appropriated about half of the pavement space to the front and side of his house, claiming it for his own. This means less parking for others, less pavement for children, less walking space for everyone. Of the 400-odd houses in this area, at least half have done this. At the same time they have also collectively seen off the only roadside tea stall in the area that served all the service providers – the guards, the drivers, the domestics, the sweepers.

Who could study the rich?

Where does this kind of behaviour come from? You’d think if people had more than they need, they would be generous about it, and would see, reflecting on themselves, that others might want to have more as well. Not so. Until recently, every time I asked myself this question, I wondered if I was just being prejudiced, or imagining things. And then I read about the experiments carried out in the US by researchers Michael Kraus, Dacher Keltner, Paul Piff and others about what wealth does to people socially and psychologically – their conclusions are telling.

Who in India would have the temerity to study the rich?

There haven’t, to my knowledge, been any such studies in our region of the world. Indeed, in India, it’s always struck me as strange that, while there are any number of books about the poor (perhaps they provide an easy subject because they’re poor and don’t have the power to refuse to be subjects of research), there are no studies about the rich or their behaviour.

The question does arise: who would study the rich, or perhaps we should ask who could study the rich? In a society that is so deeply hierarchized along both class and caste lines, which scholar or scientist would have the temerity, and the access, to do so?

For us, wealth is so completely tied in with political power, and often to crime without punishment. Take any recent scam in India and you will find proof of this.

Recently, two wealthy brothers, fighting over a piece of property, shot each other dead. The history of their many businesses showed how liquor licences had been sold to them by the state at ridiculously reduced prices. The nexus of industry and politics is exceedingly tight; and the media are tied into this too – without advertising from the corporates, they would not survive.

This somewhat lethal combination has acquired the status of a ‘natural truth’ in India’s hierarchized society and it is seldom questioned. The behaviour of the rich is taken as just that, and the oft cited refrain is: ‘that’s what they are like!’

The culture of taking

Indeed, the ferocious sense of entitlement that the rich carry with them at all times has also helped to legitimize so many inequalities in India. Take, for example, a simple urban phenomenon: parks within the city. These are the places where poor people can hang out, do nothing sometimes, and where the homeless often find a bed. But the assumption seems to be that our public parks are only meant for the rich, and so the poor are often pushed out and denied entry.

Eating the children’s sweets

In recent years, scientists in the US have been investigating the ways in which having money affects personality and behaviour. Their results have been remarkably consistent. The rich are different – and not in a good way. Their life experience makes them less empathetic, less altruistic and generally more selfish, according to Dacher Keltner, Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. ‘We have done 12 separate studies measuring empathy in every way imaginable... and it’s the same story...’1

For example, less privileged people are better at deciphering the emotions of people in photos than rich people. In video recordings of conversations, the rich are more likely to check cell phones, doodle, avoid eye contact; while less privileged people make eye contact and nod their heads more often, signalling engagement.

In another test, when poorer people were awarding points representing money, they were likely to give away more than richer people.

Keltner also studied the activity of the vagus nerve, which helps the brain to record and respond to emotional inputs. When participants are exposed to pictures of starving children, for example, their vagus nerve becomes more active. Keltner has found that those from poorer backgrounds experience more intense activation.

One of his students, Jennifer Stellar, did a similar experiment using heart rate, which slows with feelings of compassion. Unlike those of poorer students, the heart rates of the richest students did not change when they viewed pictures of children with cancer. ‘They are just not attuned to it,’ Stellar told the New York Magazine.2

In 2012 another University of California researcher, Paul Piff, published a paper entitled ‘Higher Social Class Predicts Increased Unethical Behaviour’. Using quizzes, online games, questionnaires, in-lab manipulations and field studies, Piff also found that living high on the socio-economic ladder makes people less ethical, more selfish, more insular and less compassionate.

One experiment showed that rich participants, when placed in a room with a bowl of candy designated for children, were the most likely to help themselves to the sweets. Another showed they were three times more likely to cheat than those on the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder.

In another study, Piff and his researchers spent three months observing the behaviour of drivers at the busy intersection of two major highways. They graded cars one to five, with five the most expensive. They found that drivers of grade-five cars were the most likely to cut off other drivers. Piff then devised an experiment to test drivers’ regard for pedestrians. A researcher would enter a zebra crossing as a car approached. Half of the grade-five car drivers cruised right into the crossing, regardless of pedestrians. ‘It’s like they didn’t even see them,’ said Piff.2

Can the rich redeem themselves? It will take another set of studies to show what happens if they give their riches away.

  1. Michael Kraus, Paul Piff and Dacher Keltner, ‘Social Class as Culture: The Convergence of Resources and Rank in the Social Realm’, Current Directions in Psychological Science, August 2011.

  2. Lisa Miller, ‘The Money-Empathy Gap’, New York Magazine, July 2012

There’s also a particular way in which the rich adopt the moral high ground. In a recent incident, three poor Dalit boys inadvertently caused a small fire in a local community centre where they worked. Their local community leader pleaded with the centre manager to let them off with a warning, but he was told, in no uncertain terms: ‘No, you can’t be soft on these people, they have to be punished, else they will never learn.’ Very likely, all three lost their jobs. Very likely, they were the only earning members in their families.

The studies in the US speak of the ‘culture of taking’ that comes with privilege. So, for example, the better-off person is more likely to take sweets meant for a child than a less well-off person. If you replace sweets with money, you’ll find this is rampant in India. Funds set aside for development schemes that are supposed to help the poor, are frequently siphoned off by the rich. Land that belongs to the poor – including adivasis – is taken for setting up factories (the Nano plant, for example) without compensation ever being paid.

Why do those who have so much want more? Why do they behave so badly towards their fellow human beings, and why is their behaviour so widely accepted as ‘natural’? Perhaps the day is not far off when we, in what are known now as emerging economies, will start to look for answers to these questions.

Urvashi Butalia is a feminist and historian who founded the independent non-profit publishing house Zubaan in 2003. She is a regular contributor to New Internationalist.

Front cover of New Internationalist magazine, issue 459 This feature was published in the January 2013 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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  1. #1 Obi 28 Jan 13

    Reading this article, I do think the Indians need another revolution along the lines of the French version.

  2. #2 Rita 31 Jan 13

    Curious to know what happens to the poor who become rich? Most such people are hardly more altruistic than the traditionally rich people (in fact anecdotal evidence shows they are less considerate). Frankly, these studies sound a bit hokey to me with huge holes in them:)

  3. #3 Mary 31 Jan 13

    Well--psychologists say that 1% or so of us are sociopaths, unable to care at all about anyone but themselves, immune to compassion. Studies suggest that the cause is about half genetic. It seems that every society has some of these, but even if they arise in vaguely equal numbers in different backgrounds and societies, they don't end up equally distributed. It's estimated that 25% of prisoners are sociopaths. Presumably they are the ones who happen to come from poor socioeconomic backgrounds, and/or are stupid. But what about the ones from upper class backgrounds, and with high IQs? They end up, I submit, disproportionately in corporate boardrooms, CEO suites, Parliaments and Congresses, the Oval Office. Getting rich is much likelier if one is smart and motivated and educated. It also really helps to be lucky. And if one lacks scruples, well, that makes it so much easier!

  4. #4 Ho Sheng 12 Feb 13

    If a poor person displayed the behavioral characteristics of the wealthy, they would be labeled as mentally ill and put on medications until their brains turned to mush.

  5. #5 Rajan Thambehalli 08 Apr 13

    Hi Urvashi, very thought provoking article. In India, I do believe there can be these studies made by doing our homework. A rich man's research might make him feel that it might involve scrutiny of his/her wealth. One should note, power is not easy to handle and people are drawn to power. Such people who are drawn have their own agenda's (like the drivers). Having said that, India is in a better condition than it was before and it can only improve. It is just that media industry has grown big and we highlight things majorly on negative connotations. Yes, there are things that way, but there are many good things that is happening which isn't highlighted. Such good deeds by certain privileged class is what making India shine... We are focussing more on the dark side of the moon, while equal attention must be given to the lighter side which serves as inspiration, breeds positive attitude instead of turning men and women into cynics. I am willing to contribute by doing some work for the research. Do you have a team/plan for the same?

  6. #6 lol 08 Apr 13

    I feel so smart after reading this article that my IQ dropped.. wait..

    Poor good. Rich bad. Braaaaiinsss..

  7. #7 John 08 Apr 13

    But woe to you who are rich,
    for you have received your consolation.
    But woe to you who are filled now,
    for you will be hungry.
    Woe to you who laugh now,
    for you will grieve and weep.

  8. #8 A Fan 09 Apr 13

    Surprised to see something so simplistic from Urvashi Butalia, who I respect immensely. First of all, taking American studies and transposing them onto Indian realities is, at best, partial explanation. In India, the rich (disclaimer:myself included) are brainwashed, from the time that they are children, that the poor are practically a different species from them. To the extent that in many households, servants use different cutlery from employers. This is done precisely in order to create an empathy gap. God forbid we should sympathise that they can't go to schools as good as our own, or, even worse, the unthinkable: that we should fall in love with them !

    Furthermore, the examples Urvashi has chosen to highlight - the awful man in the SUV or the brothers that killed each other over land - are so extreme and unusual that they actually excuse the kind of complacency that rich people feel in their privilege everyday. The sense of entitlement is rampant and ugly, but if you pick examples that would make the majority of rich people feel good about themselves ('at least I'm not THAT bad), then your whole piece is counterproductive.

    Please Urvashi, be as careful and precise as you are when you think about feminism when you think about rich elitism. Thanks.

  9. #9 Saurabh Goyal 09 Apr 13

    The two examples are extreme cases of the Indian Elite being ruthless to the poor people. But more or less this is true in India. It is surprising that this attitude of rich has flourished in a civilization where the most revered Human of all times, Lord Ram, lived like a adiwasi in forests for 14 years even after being crowned as a king. While in the forest he even ate fruits first tasted by a dalit woman Shabri. Now this pardadign shift in attitude of a majority of rich class can only be attributed to the erosion of cultural values over the last 1300 years. The Mughals and Britishers have created this mindset to divide Indian society so that they could rule longer and enjoy their lives exploiting all the resources this great land had.

  10. #10 triana 09 Apr 13

    Some thoughts on the ’science’ mentioned:
    We associate savings behaviour with high financial literacy, we champion this in schools and in early childhood training in families. Those who save for a rainy day do not have to run high levels of debt, and therefore for generations can progressively take off from the average.
    And now, we put these people who are the children of the savers, who probably also learned that saving and investing in worthwhile causes is the only way to spend money in a setting where they do not share what they have because they have been told to save and we tell them they are bad people for it. I hardly think this is fair. Mixing sentiment with science never works.
    And those 5-grade cars are probably driven not by the rich people who own them, but by drivers who are below average to average wage earners.

    I am not saying sen

  11. #11 deep datta-ray 09 Apr 13

    I did study, if not the rich, the indian political and bureaucratic elite (see
    my study has little to do - directly - with the subjects of this article: the born rich. what does interlink the two groups of people, however, is the notion of poverty which permeates all indian, even born rich, minds. this is so because even the ultra rich in india are surrounded by abject poverty.
    in short the rich are grasping and crude because they fear if they are not, they could very easily wind up on the street. that is a sentiment no westerner - thankfully - has to suffer from. hence their, generally, more communal behaviour.

  12. #12 Alok 09 Apr 13

    India is an impolite, rude, violent society. Being rich can make some people feel entitled; however, from my own experience, I can tell that I get pushed around all the time by people who are by no means richer than me--and I see hardly any difference in that regard across the populace. In India, muscle power rules the roost--and what matters is where one is more vulnerable. It is unfortunate that the author has made it into a class issue: This is her bias, and nothing more. Vegetable sellers themselves are very rude and can easily resort to physical violence if they find the customer to be unlikeable and vulnerable under circumstances. From bus drivers to street vendors, it is the same story; however, Urvashi is putting her own ideology before the empirical realism of all Indians.

  13. #13 Yamini 09 Apr 13

    I agree with one of the comments here that Butalia's reasoning is rather simplistic. These studies are fairly generic in thier approach. Having said that, there is a sense of entitlement that Indian middle class and upper class children grow up with. Perhaps the roots are far deeper, in caste and in our cultural expertise in keeping people in their place.

    While the examples Butalia has used are extreme, there is an everyday disregard by Indian middle class (and above) people for anyone who belongs to a lower class. If we examine the way we speak to auto drivers, domestic help, parking attendants, we don't have the same ease, warmth and grace that we extend to other relative strangers from our own class. I think it trickles down to the smallest things - saying hello to the cashier at a supermarket, hanging up mid sentence when the call centre employee is trying to say ’Have a good day Ma'am.’ or pinching an auto driver's ear as I witnessed a traffic police man doing today. (!). In Delhi, if there is a disupte on whose fault the road accident is, it is likely that it is the poorest person's.

  14. #14 Aman Chadha 09 Apr 13

    A man overturned a cart (Driving SUV or not) and people ran helter-skelter (poor or not). That's not all. The market disappeared, because the poor got scared and just ran away.
    Does this sound like Delhi? Not the one I live in.
    Not the one in which poor bus drivers organized themselves so well that they ran over people at will (middle class and rich car-owners included) and were out of jail before the sun set. Where 'poor' autowallahs continue to defy authorities and fleece the middle-class like you and me. Where 'poor illiterate farmers' organize panchayats and 'khaps' to hang those defying their rules and woe betide any political party that tries to stop them.
    And no political party tries to rectify this sickness in the society.
    Who doesnt have a sense of entitlement in India? The rot in India stems from the grassroots, not from above.

  15. #15 Vaibhav 09 Apr 13

    I think the writer has got the entire picture backwards. In a hyper competitive and crowded society like urban India, you are not apathetic and callous because you are rich, you get rich by being like that.

  16. #16 Geezus 09 Apr 13

    Someone starts a fire and you plead that they are dalit? It would be totally appropriate to sack someone with more means or another caste??? It's people like you who bring caste, race and inappropriate comparisons into every situation and cause rifts in society.
    Someone who starts a fire...usually gets sacked. Don't try to divide people further with your twisted ’holier than thou ’ articles.

  17. #17 my2cents 09 Apr 13

    This article is appalling to say the least. Firstly, it tries to justify the claims by quoting a research paper which deals with the rich in the west. Note that the research does not take into consideration the definition of rich in the first place. Just by quoting two extreme examples it does not tell the real story.Unfortunately, the gullible public is fed with such dubious news which does not have any empirical basis, and tries to generalize a trend by quoting a scientific paper all in the name of publicity. The biggest problem plaguing india is dignity of labor, the rich think that the poor & inferior are just expendables and they can wrestle with authority at their will to prove their superiority.

  18. #18 Prasad 09 Apr 13

    While I generally agree with the article, I have to say this is a terrible piece of writing. This is typical of most Indian writing these days. The title is obviously meant to mislead the reader into thinking that an actual study/results on the behavior of India's elites will be presented. If the title wasn't engineered to that effect, then its just another example of sloppy writing. The article somehow connects studies in America to India with the bridge linking them being 'observations' of the author. Even the observations are hollow - the author somehow connects a fight on the street to the street bazaar disappearing - certainly implying behind the scenes foul play. You should write another article on the lack of quality journalism and/or writing in India. Well..atleast you didn't make any spelling mistakes which have now become the norm in Indian media. Ah simple pleasures...

  19. #19 Aman Kumar 10 Apr 13

    very true, not all but I have also observed few. An eye opener for people who doesnot think of poor as people.

  20. #20 Ajit 10 Apr 13

    It's an interesting piece - I think we Indians of a higher economic level do have an entitlement - not to mention often plain selfish at times... here are some of my thoughts...

  21. #21 chhavi 10 Apr 13

    Delhi, not dehli

  22. #22 Raja V 10 Apr 13

    This is a very interesting observation that you bring out very succinctly through the narration of a series of events. It did set me thinking. I would like to point out that apart from factors discussed above India has a cultural history of public apathy. Apathy towards anything public, including civic sense. While this apathy could be or appear to be exaggerated among the super rich but its almost imbibed in our character. Lane discipline, following signals, empathy towards senior citizen, pedestrians and hygienic habits are rare commodities. Blaming only the super rich won't be appropriate and nor paint the complete picture. Cutting corners, making every penny stretch as much as possible, encroaching upon unsolicited area this is a behavior seen from the lowest echelons to the highest. The real study, if any, should be about what is the root cause of our Apathy!

  23. #23 RAmeshram0808 10 Apr 13

    yeah you americans are such fucking marxists egalitarians!paygoom fro

  24. #24 Moderator 10 Apr 13

    My apologies for the typo in the teaser - that has now been corrected. Many thanks.

  25. #25 sumant joshi 10 Apr 13

    Urvashi, I think you have hit the nail on the proverbial head. THIS is exactly what is what is ailing India and as time passes, the phenomenon is going to balloon.

    But what is the solution?

  26. #26 SB 10 Apr 13

    The Nobel prize winning Indian-born economist Amartya Sen provides an explanation of this phenomenon in an article in _The Hindu_, an Indian newspaper:

    By Amartya Sen

    ’...Before the 1980s, there was a larger nation-building project. We did have sharp divisions, class interests took control of the national agenda, and there was corruption and manipulation of the system. But the narrative then was to build a nation of opportunity for all. Political parties represented particular interests, but as [political scientist Atul] Kohli puts it, “politics also had a public purpose.” Citizens with their votes would invest in the executive the agency to try and realise this public purpose.

    The first post-Independence project did not succeed. In its place now is a different kind of transition, to a more selfish society. Today’s elite is more involved with itself. It is impatient with anything that holds back the expansion of its economic muscle. Hence the talk now of “policy paralysis” and the political investment in something as trivial as foreign direct investment in retail. The “self-confidence” about India that is part of the dominant narrative is simultaneously intolerant of any questioning from within or without.

    There is a violence in this agenda because here the larger nation does not exist. There is a new disdain among the elite for the deprivation that surrounds it. Hence the mental and at times even geographical separation from the larger part of the country. All this together makes for a less compassionate, more intolerant, and less sensitive country than before.

    We have always been a very deeply divided society. The practice of democracy over six decades has not closed these divisions. Electoral democracy has actually built on them. In recent decades, new dimensions have been added to these divisions and these have contributed to greater inequality. Until the 1980s, the division used to be not very accurately portrayed as one of India vs. Bharat. Today’s divisions run along multiple fractures — class, caste, gender, urban/rural, advanced/backward regions, and even religion....’

    — Amartya Sen in _The Hindu_,


  27. #27 GD 10 Apr 13

    Results from a study on 'Psychological consequences of money' by Harvard professor Kathleen Vohs (google for title and you will find it) are in complete agreement with Urvashi's opinion. The summary of that study states

    'The results of nine experiments suggest that money brings
    about a self-sufficient orientation in which people prefer to be free of dependency and dependents. Reminders of money, relative to nonmoney reminders, led to reduced requests for help and reduced helpfulness toward others. Relative to participants primed/ influenced with neutral concepts, participants primed with money preferred to play alone, work alone, and put more physical distance between themselves and a new acquaintance'

  28. #28 Jim 10 Apr 13

    Maybe at an unconscious level the rich really do understand that their riches are simply social wealth that they have taken. After all, wealth is created socially, but those who create it do not benefit equally - something we all know. Through the trick of investment and capital, what is socially created gets taken overwhelmingly by the owners of capital.

  29. #29 Priyanka 10 Apr 13

    I think this topic needs a desperate attention. In my opinion, civic sense is the basic factor and should be highly promoted among all age groups, especially the elderly who believe that being rich can help them get away with anything they do and they are the ones who pass such attitudes to their kids.

    I currently live in UK away from my family but every time I visit back home in India - I can see the change in the attitude of rich people that they are losing a very basic common civic sense in spite of going to the country's best schools. They disrespect the poor but honestly, they cannot survive without them because of their habits. Both are highly dependent on each other in day to day life. And when I see the young kids having the same attitude - it just makes me feel sad.

    I think the best way to reach masses in India is through TV and media. I have observed in UK that BBC documents video about every major incident and provide the right facts about it and people take a keen interest in watching them and learning from them. Videos are the best way to pass on the education and I think we really need to start this in India soon.

  30. #30 Miriam Mathew 10 Apr 13

    I don't think we can generalise about the rich.I think it has more to do with growing up without any values.Some folks feel that being rich entitles you to do away with values.Finally it all boils down to the values you've been taught while growing up and what impact they've had on you.

  31. #31 girish 10 Apr 13

    The rich and the poor is not a big divide. It is a continuous function of small incremental jumps. And at each jump there are people who oppress the ones below and a few from among them who see the injsutice being metted out by their peers and fight for the voice of the oppressed.

  32. #32 Harsh 10 Apr 13

    ’Why do those who have so much want more?’ I think it's because they wanted more to start with, that they were able to get whatever they have. Nevertheless, desire, fulfillment and happiness have been discussed through ages by men much wiser than us. We were taught those answers in school text books, but apparently we were not paying enough attention. Or those answers are not practical anymore. Without making a sweeping generalization, it may be safe to assert that being an a$$hole magnifies ones' chances of success.

  33. #33 Harsh 10 Apr 13

    What's more ironic is that we need journal articles and blog posts to tell us the obvious. Some of the comments are indeed hilarious. You've either got to be blind, or among the beneficiaries to not have felt this all your life. This problem is not just ailing India, but humanity in general. The world is not enough for the greed of a single man, let alone all of us racing against each other.

  34. #34 Sabby 10 Apr 13

    The conclusion I withdraw from SUV incident is different. The card driver was brat alright, but were cart owners considerate?? So many times we see rickshaw pullers jumping traffic signals and causing either accidents or traffic menace at the least. So it is not about rich and poor to me...the thing is that we are fast turning to a society where we are not considerate about other's comfort. Poor breaks law as they have nothing to lose, rich owns the law and middle men...well we always have excuse to take ourselves as the downtrodden one, getting beaten up from all corners. Look how we park cars, to how we manage queues, to how we want to beat the system to our benefit.

  35. #35 Dipin 10 Apr 13

    Excellent! Love the content and the writing style! Kudos!

  36. #36 Atul Mamtora 10 Apr 13

    This is in nature of elite behaviour every where.

  37. #37 Devika 10 Apr 13

    Reminds me of this study which talks about the phenomenon that when top managers receive high levels of compensation, they tend to treat lower level employees callously.-

  38. #38 Akash 10 Apr 13

    A really well written article and i appreciate the simplistic approach. I really feel there are two kinds of rich in India today. The educated rich and the lesser qualified rich. fewer of the latter in today's times who eventually become the educated rich. The sense of the upper class or rather the better occupation dominating is something which has been into practice since traditional India. unlike nations in the west where a carpenter;s job is not just high paying but also well respected or that of coach of a school team, India still has a lot of homework to do. this article is going to be read by the elite more than any other class of society. and they are going to cry about it. I remember robert de niro in taxi driver now for some reason.

  39. #39 Preetam Rai 10 Apr 13

    Well it is not just india, you see such behavior in any of the emerging economies. While I am also seeing another trend where younger and more affluent people are adopting a simpler lifestyle. There are humble to a fault and you often see them volunteering at community events. And the fact that these bunch of people are not loud makes them invisible.

  40. #40 Vijaya J Deshpande 11 Apr 13

    Excellent article! Perhaps, one could look at it the other way round. Only those who think they are entitled and grab more than they need, become rich!

  41. #41 AJAY SABHARWAL 11 Apr 13

    Most of the rich today are a case of ’pauper to pepe’ concept. If not all, most have acquired wealth by twisting and turning the laws that govern the acquisition of wealth. More so in the capital where the corruption is rampant and becoming rich is a matter of ’ connections’ and ’ connivance’. One doesn't have to elaborate as it is very apparent in almost all the cases of rags to riches.Combined with flawed upbringing, the city's criminal records are all time high.India and its socioeconomic and political system are amongst the most corrupt in the world.

  42. #42 Jasmine Jose 11 Apr 13

    ’with great power comes great responsibility’ da famous lines frm da spiderman movie is something we need to consider in this scenario. How responsible and altruistic wealthy ppl r can b sumthn dat v need to study in our country..

    However, while there are incidents of rich vvying for more to the extent that they snatch evn da bare minimum of da poor, showing off their wealth by beating up or harassin da less prviliged etc can v be judgemental and say dat all rich people are bad?

    Nevertheless, an interesting piece to read

  43. #43 Ravi 11 Apr 13

    What does being a dalit have to do with being poor? Or being fired? Why bring caste into the equation at all? And to think that you were awarded a Padmashree.. God save our country!

  44. #44 P V Kriishnamani 11 Apr 13

    For us, wealth is so completely tied in with political power, and often to crime without punishment. Take any recent scam in India and you will find proof of this.

    This describes everything in brevity.

  45. #45 Shovon Chowdhury 11 Apr 13

    This is not true. In Calcutta, anyone can beat up anyone.

  46. #46 Satavisha 11 Apr 13

    Your article is barely a surface scratcher..deep down inside ppl have to eliminate others in order to survive..So with the power of money one is equipped better..As far as wealth is concerned it is going to be concentrated in the hands of few all over the world..and as the population explodes the rest of the ppl are going to be left to die of diseases, war, financial war, genetically modified crops..
    Regardless, this article gives rich people in India a bad name.. I speak from a very middle class point of view..I don't think many ppl in India have been rich enough for long to have a culture of giving than taking..and this culture of taking is particularly associated with certain places for eg Delhi and certain kinds of ppl..I can give eg of Parsis in India..a group of ppl who have never really known poverty and mostly they are giving ppl.. This kind of entitlement that you speak of is perpetuated by certain types of ppl who r still following a system of social, hierarchy and class system..I think in a few hundred years this class system will dissolve quite a bit..and ppl in India will perhaps learn to behave..

  47. #47 vinodmm 11 Apr 13

    The more you have , the more you want. There is no end to this want, perhaps as a society we should keep highlighting this appalling behavior of the rich more often, to create awareness of the existence of the underprivileged,undernourished and forgotten poor of this country.

  48. #48 Fahad 11 Apr 13

    Thought provoking and nice... The rich have a sense of entitlement which I believe comes from the traditional chamchagiri that we are known for...

  49. #49 Rakesh K Mathur 11 Apr 13

    A rich Indian told me recently while holidaying in Kerala: My definition of 'give and take' is: You keep on giving and I keep on taking...

  50. #50 Pankaj Narula 11 Apr 13

    Urvashi I totally disagree with the examples and the studies in the article; however definitely agree with the neo-richies attitudinal dilemma. Whether rich or poor the cancer pics do affect each heart rates may vary - but it does affect - why will they attuned these pics (the richies) because they read and god to schools and colleges where they get exposed to all of this
    And not because of attitude but because of GK.

    The road was meant to be for cars and not street hawkers and jaywalking; if there's weekly market on the road then not even scooters should have been allowed - the attitude of Delhiites in general is wrong because of very very weak implementation of laws and rules. Hence no one follows. Reel me what the hawker would have done if a car by mistake toppled it over....that's the answer. So the article is totally biased and oozes jealousy or horse-sighted.

  51. #51 Reader 11 Apr 13

    An interesting article. Observing the behaviour of the super-rich in Mumbai, I have to agree with views expressed. They are callous, they believe they can own anything, and they really lack empathy. They also believe they are above the law, and in India, sadly, they are. However, the article may be an over-simplification. I have also seen a few rich people doing charity, supporting their own domestic help, and trying to improve things.

    Some of the people driving around in massive SUVs like they own the road are not elite. They are children of the mafia, local politicians, goons, top cops etc.

  52. #52 Albert 11 Apr 13

    Are all journalists born stupid or dumbed down in journalism school? Write something useful for crying out loud. Why do we pay a third of our income as taxes and get nothing in return? No proper roads, sidewalks, sanitation, water supply, electricity, safety from hooligans or even the police, etc. That is people want to escape from the the messy, sordid, dirty, unsafe India into the sanctity of gated communities, hoping to live in peace at least a few hours every day.

  53. #53 Nirvair 11 Apr 13

    Are you aware of the work of Rianne Eisler and her Caring Economy Campaign? In her book, ’The Real Wealth of Nations’, Eisler explains the cultural paradigm that sustains this kind of behavior. We have to look at domination at all levels of society--domination of one gender over the other, domination of one ethnic group over the others, domination of rich over poor, domination of humans over animals and rest of the planet. In a dominator society domination shows up everywhere. Although the dominator paradigm prevails, there have been other models throughout history and Eisler suggests some possibilities for the future, and gives examples of more caring trends being adopted in some countries.

  54. #54 charley m 11 Apr 13

    Has it not been said it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God? Still not all the rich sit on their ’entitlement’, what maybe 1%? Hmmm where have I seen THAT number before?

    Too bad all these studies observed entitlement behavior without fully hypothesizing and testing for cause.

    I am pretty sure it goes way beyond ’genetics’ and socialized ’fear’ of loss. I am pretty sure the reasons are wide and varied. And I am pretty sure it is not ’human nature’.

    After all we each are made in God's image, the God/Goddess we each possess within. It is there we must inquire and listen.


  55. #55 Ashwin Panemangalore 12 Apr 13

    Callousness and a devilish dont give a damn attitude grows in exponential proportions with the linear growth of wealth among the Delhi rich Crassness is culture Muscle and swagger is smartness Standing in line,driving in accordance with the law or even following simple rules of an orderly society are meant for common folk I have heard one crude representative of this class tell me that it is only fools who would obey rules
    The only way to curtail this obnoxious behavior is to book these crudes and slap them in jail for their offences A few prime examples like this photographed behind bars and put on Page 1 can be the only way to curb this assault on society Tough but doable if there is unanimity among the executors of law

  56. #56 thcricketfan 12 Apr 13

    Interesting article but I think the cause and effect are reversed. Being rich is an after effect of being greedy and selfish. not the other way round.
    A greedy person is more driven towards accumulating wealth and thus becomes rich. Of course there are exceptions.

  57. #57 Shobha Sundharam 12 Apr 13

    A very good article on an issue that is overlooked and which will have serious repercussion on the society in the near future ....i would like to share a realistic approach below.
    ’Paise wale log zaroori nahin hai imandar log hote hai’This was the opening line of my maid as she swept the floors.I did not stop doing my chore but i did stop to introspect these words later as she spelt her sob story.
    It happened that she was hired by a neigbour in a posh apartment to clean up a room that was locked for a year. She worked hard for over three hours to make it livable along with her niece. For this work the niece got a paltry sum of Rs.50 along with an old worn clothe. She on her part got nothing but just a fifty bucks on more persuasion. While the people whose above Flat she cleaned up during their stay went away without giving the payment .
    This entire episode made her mouth this line,’Paise wale log zaroori nahin hai imandar log hote hai’.
    Friends instances like this makes me loath at not the moneyed status of the people occupying expensive Apartments but at their meanness . They can afford to spend a thousand or more money on themselves but they cannot pay 200 bucks to a person who has in her own right worked hard and honestly to make their life livable.
    Today's thoughts i do not borrow by copy pasting from quotable quotes but from my maid who quoted the lines straight from her heart that bled for want of money and dignity that she had lost at the hands of so called educated ,dignified, sophisticated rich people.
    ’Paise wale log zaroori nahin hai imandar log hote hai’....very true

  58. #58 Upasana 12 Apr 13

    hmmm.. is it a sort of contradiction that one hand your are talking about the dearth of studies on the 'Rich'and on the other have presented a few strong conclusions. I am not questioning the possibility of worst being closer to truth than you or I will like it but homogeneity should not be the premise either. Also in Indian context we have to remember the various other power structures. Also, the question should not be what rich are doing, rather do rich and poor act differently. Being rich (whether in wealth or power or influence) is a relative term unless you have defined it in particular slab terms. Nonetheless, interesting read!

  59. #59 upasana 12 Apr 13

    Hi Urvashi,You are right when you say that such studies should be conducted here as the study quoted by you does not look very relevant in our scenario. India is a country of middle class and no study can be complete without that class. The study quoted by you has focused on the two extremes of the socio-economic ladder while ignoring the most important class. I think you will agree with me if I say that when you are talking about poverty of morals or unethical practices then there is hardly any difference in these two classes. But it is the middle class who is probably carrying forward the culture of morality. But I think it will be interesting to see in our Indian context as to who is more bankrupt in the morality zone - the rich or the poor. My hypothesis says that there won't be much of a difference.

  60. #60 Chelston Chaves 13 Apr 13

    This is a real eye-opener. Would it be in order for me to put it on 'Facebook’ so that there are more to read it?


  61. #61 Chelston Chaves 13 Apr 13

    This is a real eye-opener. Would it be in order for me to put it on 'Facebook’ so that there are more to read it?


  62. #62 Somdeep Sengupta 13 Apr 13

    The title of your article made me come back for this peice after i had seen it in passing somewhere. Unfortunately the merit of your article seems biased and not wholly creditable.

    p.s. where would the motorists go, if not the roads?

  63. #63 Bharati M 13 Apr 13

    Another study needed: the poor who are in the employ of the rich; how do they behave 1. when on the job, 2. when back at their own homes.

  64. #64 Jesse Donat 13 Apr 13

    It sounds to me like people *should have* gotten out of the road. No wonder the countries poor if goods and services can't pass freely.

  65. #65 kikito 13 Apr 13

    The rich in any other country are exactly the same. The only difference is that they hide it better. Sometimes.

  66. #66 materialist 13 Apr 13

    maybe the secret to becoming rich is apathy?

  67. #67 rg 13 Apr 13

    i agreed with u until the very end - that's why i was so disappointed to read the first word you used to describe yourself was ’feminist’. why not humanist? you proudly show off the same blindness you blithely look down on others for.

  68. #68 Ashish 13 Apr 13

    I was lapping it up right until the mention of the Nano factory. The people of West Bengal are not well served by how that turned out.

    If your goal is to promote the idea ’rich == bad,’ then the logical conclusion is that we're all better off staying desperately poor - while the rest of India takes off without us.

  69. #69 Bharat Haladi 13 Apr 13

    Interesting article. You've got that Nano plant part wrong though.

  70. #70 Jan 13 Apr 13

    How refreshing to see someone write the obvious, from a humane perspective, instead of adhering to the perverse logic of having to be ’loyal’ [to the system].

    What's the system worth when the people it produces compare to sh*t. Because that is what you are seeing and what we are required to close our eyes for, in the western world!

    Don't become the mindless bots like we are supposed to be.

  71. #71 ss 14 Apr 13

    Getting headache reading the comments. You need better color contrast. Grey on whitish background is not good.

  72. #72 Buckminster 14 Apr 13

    Not so different from Southern California, Los Angeles especially, though it's more probably more hidden or woven into the social fabric. It's generally accepted here that most men are, to put it bluntly ’dicks’, and coming from a more low key part of America, it is very obvious that the men are not very respectful to those they feel beneath them. The wealthy women are certainly not much different. In short, this is about money, but it is more about human nature and how those in perceived power abuse it and those below are forces, without knowing, to accept it. It's human nature to accept these things, sad for both parties and only remedied with compassion. How those in need of compassion receive it and learn to provide it is another, tougher question.

  73. #73 Vijay 14 Apr 13

    I think it is the other way round. Being selfish and less considerate about others gives you a better chance of becoming rich.

  74. #74 Jim 14 Apr 13

    This article raises some questions.

    ’Unlike those of poorer students, the heart rates of the richest students did not change when they viewed pictures of children with cancer.’

    What if rich people are generally smarter and more aware of the fact that cancer is widespread and so not evoked into emotion so easily, while poor people are more shocked or surprised because they lack awareness or prior knowledge?

    ’the rich are more likely to check cell phones, doodle, avoid eye contact; while less privileged people make eye contact and nod their heads more often, signalling engagement.’

    The rich might be more busy, because they are rich, poor people may be more engaged because they are looking to find opportunities to make money and so engagement would be a good trait.

    ’One experiment showed that rich participants, when placed in a room with a bowl of candy designated for children, were the most likely to help themselves to the sweets.’

    This study can't be true.

    ’The studies in the US speak of the ‘culture of taking’ that comes with privilege. So, for example, the better-off person is more likely to take sweets meant for a child than a less well-off person. If you replace sweets with money,’

    if you replace sweets with money you end up with a very weak strawman argument and unfortunately the crux of your article.

    Bill Gates is the richest person in the world and the most philanthropic.

    In this world there are good and bad people, rich and poor people. There is no pattern between them. People's character is random.

    written by a poor person.

  75. #75 Anubhav 14 Apr 13

    I agree with the author that most people do feel they are above others but I disagree with the statement that only rich people do so. I believe that it is those who have power, now this could be anyone from a constable to prime minister and all others in the middle who are either politically connected or in some sort of government job. Now the level of entitlement that these people believe they deserve depends on the amount of power, not on the money they might or might not have, and on the person they are deriving it from.

    The more power one has i.e. less people are above one, the more entitlement is expected. I would encourage the author to do a research on this and share the results. These people believe that nothing can or will happen to them no matter they do. Unfortunately, this is true in India and one can see the examples on a daily basis. One reason being that everyone accepts this and does not dare stand-up against it. (Young engineer who was helping CBI in unearthing one of the scams was conveniently found dead just a day before he was to share the report...nothing has happened as far as the investigations go..)

    People with power unfortunately also become rich and thus one may get confused that rich feel the entitlement when in reality being rich is one of the result of being in power and wrongly using that power to steal public money and divert the funds dedicated to welfare for one's extravagant lifestyle...because you know what ...nothing can happen to these guys...

  76. #76 AP SINGH 14 Apr 13

    Consumerism, materialistic pursuits and greed as values are getting deep rooted in our psyche because we are getting away from our ancient ethos of 'paropkaaraay sataam vibhutayah' (by helping others, a person becomes glorious)and 'vibhaati kaayah karunamayaanam' (a person with compassion shines out). We are developing into mentally sick society riches notwithstanding and continue to be so as 'karma-phala'(fruits of our action)are inescapable. Right education and inculcation of values from childhood is only way out.

  77. #77 nobody 14 Apr 13

    Look into the studies of psychopatism and sociopatism, there you find your answer.
    These people are able to ammse their wealth because of their psychological state of being.
    In other words, they are sick and should be cured, the problem is that they are too powerful to be taken from the streets and be cured.
    This is a increasing problem in this world.

  78. #78 ashwin 14 Apr 13

    I cant believe I read this terrible piece of writing, the examples given are so so stupid and unrealistic..the village market closed because of the SUV? seriously??? dont the poor murder each other?

  79. #79 Shekar Rajan 14 Apr 13

    You bet we get to see this every day.... its not entitlement it arrogance.... look at the kind of attitude the rich have for rule s in this country... sharuk khan at the wankade stadium is a classical example.... Asshole smoke in public place, and drinks and creaks a ruckus..... the law is a transgender in this country for the rich !!!

  80. #80 kavita 15 Apr 13

    very well written and needs to be addressed. I have also observed that when we fill air in our vehicles and dont have change to tip the boys they very willingly say next time with a smile, how many of us remember to pay for the last time? That boy has given his entire earning from you and is trusting, but in spite of the fact that the trust is not kept, he does the same with another customer. Commendable act. People lower in economic structure take better care of their parents than the affluent ones. very sad but true.

  81. #81 Sarika 15 Apr 13

    Excellent article. I recently saw in a posh Chandigarh club restaurant a sign reading 'domestic help not allowed inside'. We take offence the English putting up signs 'Indians and dogs not allowed' but accept and legitimize such signs even today. It is rather shameful. Thanks for writing about a subject often overlooked.

  82. #82 Dileep Ranjekar 15 Apr 13

    Very relevant issue.
    One more reality to be borne in mind while researching the Indian elite - they are likely to bluff their responses to appear socially more correct - as compared to their western counterparts.
    The research design must factor this reality and design the research suitably.
    My Hypothesis is that even in corruption, the rich and upper middle class are far more corrupt than the poor - among other things - also because the poor have very little to offer as a barter for favour. Besides, it is the rich that wants to constantly circumvent the system since it is below their dignity to follow rules, have patience for the bureaucracy etc.

  83. #83 Falguni 15 Apr 13

    a really good piece something that resonates everyday with you and doesn't come out as succinctly. Also liked the lines on temerity and access to research the rich? the test on Empathy is also an eye opener........

  84. #84 Priyanka 15 Apr 13

    I am aware of one study which tracked the philanthropy of the Indian rich. And found that they came in abysmally low when compared against our western counter-parts. Here are a few articles discussing the issue:,8599,2097929,00.html

    And some cause for hope?

  85. #85 Avik Saha 16 Apr 13

    The first story - reach young man getting out of the car, overturning the cart and then the market disappearing - is not completely believable. At least in Kolkata, I have seen the opposite. The young man could have got a thrashing for the crowd.

  86. #86 Avik Saha 16 Apr 13

    The first story - reach young man getting out of the car, overturning the cart and then the market disappearing - is not completely believable. At least in Kolkata, I have seen the opposite. The young man could have got a thrashing for the crowd.

  87. #87 Jay 17 Apr 13

    Several excellent points. I agree, inequality, injustice lack of civil norms, opportunism are deep rooted in our society, and mocks at us ever second stark and naked.

    The only way i see forward is that in our own little worlds, busy daily lives, at home, in offices, we should speak up against any obvious injustice. Before we moved in in our housing society (8 stories) the house helps were banned from taking the elevator. We fought against this successfully. I delibrately ask for reciepts whenever i buy something, even though most of the times i am well aware that this guy is running a double book keeping. I give a dirty look to people who treat the poor like the scum of the earth, or when fat Delhi women are haggling with a rikshaw driver, or when a car stops right in the middle of the pedestrian path, etc. etc.. I am aware of injustice around me and do whatever best possible under the circumstance based on my best judgement and without putting my own safety in any obvious danger..

    Change will be slow. The first step i awareness. I congratulate the author for creating this serious debate in the forum, and bringing out several pearls from the readers.

    (PS. Regarding rich in particular, i believe most rich in india acuire money by some illegal means, by bribing, corruption, exploitation and so on. While this also happens elsewhere in the world, it is much more so and probably the only way to be rich in our country, given the lack of implementation of basic civil rights and widespread corruption at all levels. There is a well documented effect that the thieves are the best policemen, an effect which is also observed in other species such as ants etc. I believe at least partly, subconciously, the rich are policing others from acquiring wealth and status as this could mean more competition for them and their eventual downfall) ...just a thought :) )

  88. #88 pm 18 Apr 13

    How about an alternate perspective on 2 cited cases that demonstrates it may have less to do with elite's sense of entitlement and more due to practical reasons:
    1. What choice does one have if already narrow streets are hogged by illegal street vendors? Further, who is responsible for the trail of garbage and waste products left by such activities at the end of day? Also, usually the same crowd will not give way if that van was a school bus or even an ambulance.
    2. Pavement encroachment is often a way to ensure safety and cleanliness of one's surrounding - (a) prevent street vendors from establishing illegal shops, (b) stray animals from find a home (c) unwanted elements from loitering around, especially at tea-shop like the one mentioned in the article.


  89. #89 bill 18 Apr 13

    the problem is not the money, the problem is lack parenting. conservative values that allow people to be good business people do not translate into good parenting skills. we need to hold parents responsible, educate them about parenting, etc, rather than say ’oh, no wonder hes being a jerk, he's rich’ because that is for lack of a better word, bigotry

  90. #90 Raza Yusuf 18 Apr 13

    I disagree mainly because even though I now live in Canberra I used to live in Lahore for the better part of my life. I was by no means ’Rich’ but I did own a car and needless to say that I used to get extremely angery at carts blocking the road etc. I would much rather have laws that would ensure that no such things happen as roads are meant for vehicals to move about and not open mobile shops and not to mention the fact if a child somehow gets injured because he/she ran in front of a car people blame the car owner and not the parent of that child who clearly neglected to watch over their child. I totally support what that guy in the SUV did.

  91. #91 Narayani 20 Apr 13

    Let me tell you, there is anger in Delhi against what people from poor states have done to our city. There is anger in the way they rape the city's infrastructure, stare and sometimes rape the women (Nirbhaya's & the rapes of girls as small as infants being a case in point), fleece us, steal electricity, and then go back to their home states to sell their votes for a thousand rupees to the very same representatives who keep their states poor.
    Could it be what the young man in the SUV did was out of sheer frustration? And not because of a feeling of entitlement?
    Studies conducted in the US cannot be applied to India - they are two totally separate societies.

  92. #92 ReignForrest 21 Apr 13

    >> ’This isn’t an unusual scene in India and it’s not about road rage. It’s about being rich, and the privilege, callousness and arrogance that comes with it.’

    Maybe this is how it is in Delhi. This won't/doesn't work in Maharashtra. I wonder if it will work in many other urban metropolises.

    Indian metropolises are rowdy, mannerless, uncouth, graceless -- which hits an effective firangi like me in the gut often in the course of an outing. However, in metropolises, at least, my own experience is that a magnificently egalitarian, classless transformation has occurred in a once-feudal society. The sub-altern will not tolerate the dadagiri of the rich!

    Maybe I haven't seen enough of India on my return ...

  93. #93 SuchindranathAiyerS 22 Apr 13

    True. But who will bell the cat?

    India's History and narrative have never had any relation to the Truth ever since Nehru began to have statues and place names replaced with those of the neo-Nabobs and History re written. Rather, the Executive and the Judiciary seek to manufacture ’Truth’ to political convenience. This, with other forms of corruption, is what has led to the total break down of both law and the credibility of ’Governance’ in India. In most such cases, too many people know the truth experientially and clinically. Too many people also infer ’the truth’ from prior personal experience rather than Government propaganda. But, truth is helpless and trembles in starving illiteracy.

    Universal primary and secondary education was a goal of the British Empire in India. So much so that Anglican Britain fostered the Catholics for the education that they might bequeath. Princely States like Travancore, Mysore and Baroda surpassed the Empire in educating their people. This was brought to an end by the Quota-Corruption Raj that replaced Governance in 1947.

    Since 1947, when the Neta-Babu Quota-Corruption Raj was planted in India and an ’Animal Farm’ Stalinist, social and capital engineering Constitution was brought into play, The courts and the Police have punished victims of crime and those who help them in the firm and well founded belief that, in India, criminals are VIPs.’Suspensions’ are succeeded by transfers and promotions as soon as a new scam surfaces to erase memories of the old. Lok Ayukthas are talent scouts for the ruling scum. The raison de etre of Indian Governance has been to replace the retreating Britisher with cronies of the new order. They have succeeded and the Neo-Nabobbery shakes the Pagoda Tree with more vigour and viciousness than any conquering tyrant of yore.

    In doing so, after demolishing the Swatantra Party, the Indian National Congress has stamped its Corrupt Stalinist imprimatur on Indian Politics. Almost every other political party is a clone that preferred its own dynasty to the Nehru-Gandhi Parivar. The BJP has adopted its means if not its principles. The Exceptions are the DMK and its clones that adopted Nazism (with the haples Iyer community as its jews of choice) and the Communists who followed Lenin and Mao in the name of Marx.

    Peaceful attempts at change are easily smothered with murderous lathi charges and deft canards by the scum who command the arms and the press. Nothing short of a violent revolution and guillotines at every street corner will tame the unaccountable and conscienceless tyranny of India. This seems improbable, but the incursions of China and Saudi-Wahabi Jihad high light the other option. Sovereignty and corruption are incompatible. Perhaps, this is why, India's scum are so actively feathering their nests in safe havens.

  94. #94 Ashoke Dasgupta 25 Apr 13

    Should the (young, wealthy) driver of the SUV not have felt entitled to the right of way on a road? Or are the poor entitled to roads and pavements?

  95. #95 Devi 25 Apr 13

    Agree with your observations - but it is a bit misleading when you generalize by saying India's rich/elite. I come from a place called Kerala in the South of India. With its very high literacy levels and political/legal activism among general public , it is often the rich who needs to be on the defenive. Forget, manhandling a street vendor, you would rarely raise your voice at your house help or domestic worker - not that I am saying it is acceptable. It is not because the rich are more civilized in here, but because they are very aware of their limits. Probably, learnt the hard way from highly unionized blue collar workers at all levels. Education , to my mind, is the only way out - it brings in awAreness, self respect and access to better opportunities - you don't have to stay poor anymore.

  96. #96 Preeti 26 Apr 13

    good article...agree with all that is written

  97. #97 Nupur 26 Apr 13

    Taking into consideration an evolutionary perspective, these undeserving 'rich' people who epitomize the saying 'birds of a feather flock together' are breeding negative values of materialistic pursuit or the absence of the more basic values of empathy, compassion, honesty and civic responsibility, into their genetic makeup. These same people whose daily lives involve virtual realities and the subtle conditioning of media and entertainment have no idea where they are headed. People who develop, learn and live by the more basic human values and virtues are the ones who survive. Mainly because their perceptions are not inflounced by media and the virtual realities it represents. these virtueless rich individuals are breeding a dumb section of the human race. money and the material stuff it buys is impermanent. The sooner they realize this, the longer they will 'survive' and learn how to thrive, in the natural sense of the term.

  98. #98 Partlysane 26 Apr 13

    You should look at it this way and it would have answered your questions.

    People who are less ethical, more selfish, more insular and less compassionate are likely to be rich and not the other way around!!

  99. #99 disorderedworld 28 Apr 13

    It goes without saying that India is unique. The scale of poverty means that the minority who are rich can feel justified in doing nothing because the problem is too big for any individual to solve. India's culture of caste and hierarchy doesn't help, and instead provides a ready cultural justification for doing nothing. And as Vaibhav described, a hyper-competitive and crowded society will bring out the worst in most of us. A few contributors mentioned sociopaths. My worry is that the conditions used to describe modern India in this discussion are exactly the conditions needed to propel the most violent and ruthless to power. This has already happened of course as evidenced by the number of members of the national and local parliaments awaiting trail. India's democracy is in very real danger, but it isn't only the rich that are to blame.

  100. #100 Satishchandran Matamp 03 May 13

    Urvashi Bhutalia has a grave point to argue with.It is very true once you become rich in material terms, your mind begins to decay.The decadence is evidenced in the way the privileged behave in the public domain.The increasing number of rave parties noising around rich residential areas, the callous young owners honking around and speeding past disturbing the aged and the sick, the pets,especially the political breed, speak of the coming of the haves into the Indian scene in an unkind way as never before.Yes, the nexus as Bhutalia talks about, of the political class, the new rich is frighteningly high in our cities, let alone Delhi. But, when the poor become rich won't they turn the same callous in their attitudes? That I think needs a closer study!

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