Wealth is Evil ?

Wealth is Evil ?

We all look at money differently. We have been conditioned in our growing up years about money and till today we react to it in a similar fashion.

Movies to a large extent reflect society’s views.  That one dialogue from the famous movie, Deewar; “Mera paas Maa Hai”, changed an entire generations attitude about money and its legitimacy.

Most of our movies in the black and white era had the good guys as simple bhola-bhala villagers who were in the debt of the rich and evil ‘zamindar’ and his ‘muneemji’.

Think of the way the bus company is portrayed as the villain that has arrived to put honest buggy drivers out of business in the 1957 film, Naya Daur. Films reflected the neo-Gandhian and Fabian Socialist Nehruvian cultural sensibility that was dominant in India at the time.

It is no surprise that the businessman was inevitably portrayed in a negative light during these socialist decades, as an exploiter whom the hero takes on till the good side wins.
 Thoughts of wealth creation were definitely not for the good guys.

 “Black” money born of graft became the new villain in movies of the 70’s — apart from the burlesque smugglers downing VAT 69, Seths surreptitiously taking out notes from the safe concealed behind the idol in the pooja room; politicians buying public servants with suitcases of cash and businessmen who began to randomly exchange suitcases in shady hotels, stories of black money from corruption began to explode on screen.  
Then came a phase that somehow, unintentionally, ended up showing that all those who end up being millionaires are either bad guys or eventually turn out to be them. The villain in Hindi cinema shifted professions with the decades but the chief villain remained money.

Most kids were brought up on the gospel; study hard, get a good job, get married and take care of your family. “Love of money is the root of all evil” was most often the message for all youngsters. Anybody who thought otherwise was told, “Bachcha Pado, Likho, kabil bano, kabil … kamyabi toh saali jhak maarke peeche bhagegi.” , “Padoge, Likhoge toh banoge Nawab, Kheloge, Kudoge, toh hoge kharaaab” was the advice passed on to most youngsters at that time.

Most demands were met with, “We can’t afford it”. Risk taking was not encouraged, “You must follow a path, study, get a good job, get married, take care of the family, build a house etc etc”
In the movies of the 70’s and early 80’s, you had all the problems in the world and getting a job solved all your life’s problems: Almost every good guy had a mother who needed some critical surgery or a sister who had to be married soon but our good guy never had the money. And then one fine day, he got a job and viola! All problems solved, which just reinforced the path recommended by most parents.

However, films of the late 80’s and 90’s helped build the legitimacy of wealth creation in the public mind, and thus also made it easier for economic reformers to free enterprises from government control after 1991. Yash Chopra, The Barjatyas and finally Karan Johar suddenly started portraying luxuries, wealth and the relative comfortable attitude of the protagonist towards it. The Mercedes, palatial bungalows and Scotch slowly moved from the villain to the Hero.
With the change in attitude, people started looking at various investment options either directly or indirectly. The growth of Reliance and the equity cult brought by it, The Tech-boom billionaires, arrival of ESOPs and jump in corporate remuneration, all brought in a certain legitimacy to wealth and the rise in aspirations and need for wealth creation.

Dil Chahta Hai, was a landmark movie of that era because it was perhaps the first Hindi film in which the main characters were comfortable and casual with their wealth.
Then came the movie, GURU, which questioned basic values and opposed the established ideas of virtue. The hero becomes a lawbreaker and opposes economic injustice. He questioned, “Is it virtuous to follow the law when the law itself is corrupt?” How can an honest businessman live in a corrupt world? The theme becomes clear in the climax, a trial in which Guru, à la Howard Roark from Fountainhead, puts society on trial and changes the way society and Hindi movies looked at money and wealth for all times to come.

Explosion of social media, the Internet and increased awareness, brought the world to the doorstep. Suddenly the need to create wealth became foremost. Tier 2 & Tier 3 cities led the revolution and suddenly the complacent and risk averse “Middle Class” was ready to break the shackles and take risks in their path to creating wealth. A more confident youth, backed by education and skill sets, fueled by stories of peer group who crossed the shores, initiated a start up and became 1stgeneration millionaires and other successes were soon becoming a norm.

Then came the cult movie, Zindagi na milegi Dobara, where one of the heroes who is passionately after making money and wants to retire at forty, realises that there is more to life than wealth. The financial hierarchy of needs, a la Maslow, has finally reached the top of the pyramid.
 
Somebody made the famous statement, “Money is not important” and a successful man replied, “you can afford to make that statement only once you have enough of it.”  

Today, the speed of change is amazing. Life is becoming uncertain with the constant disruptions brought in by technology, changing values and support systems.

For the previous generation, children were the retirement plan. Family, the government and society took care of most requirements even in old age and at times of need. This is no longer relevant today with the shift from joint family to nuclear family and change in mindsets. With the increase in longevity and life expectancy, Wealth creation and retirement plan especially, has become mandatory.

Wealth is no longer evil. It is the need of the hour to face the uncertainties of the future.

Create wealth for the financial independence it gives you, for the freedom it gives you to follow your passion, to do what your heart desires, to face the world of uncertainty in this era of disruptions and change, and also to leave a legacy or contribute to society.

You may encounter failure several times in your route to creating wealth. Most people never win because they’re afraid of losing, or failing,Yet if you look at the way humans are designed to learn, we learn by making mistakes, we learn to walk by falling down. If we never fell down, we would never walk. The same is true for learning to ride a bike … The same is true for getazting rich … Failure is part of the process of success.

Remove the stereotypes, Dream Big, consult an advisor, draw up your financial goals, start early, take the risks and create wealth.

Happy Investing!

Stay Blessed Forever!

Sandeep Sahni

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