India is no longer a land that worships the mind. More than anything else it worships the material. Even our temples have become grounds for quid pro quo where blessing is not what people seek but just riches. We are no longer happy with homes. We want to live in monuments. We want farmhouses with pools and dubious women swimming in them. We want to wear brands that we will never be able to pronounce and read books that have so many shades of grey that we may never be able to count.
We are the new India. Where collectors of art have nothing to do with the appreciation of it. Where people have become collectors of titles and friends without appreciating the value of either. Where it is not important as to who you are but how you live. Where the Nano is a symbol of poverty rather than some technological marvel. Where politicians build statues of themselves with handbags that are kept open. Where brother fires at brother only for a few more square yards of land.
We are a country that even makes materialism shine through in weddings and birthdays. In the good old days we were happy with a cake. Today’s brats need more: they need five-star hotel parties with luscious Mummies attending who’d be better off sharingTutankhamen’s tomb. I have a quaint rule. I rarely attend weddings but do make it a point to attend funerals. At least in the latter you know the name of the person who’s just passed away. Today’s weddings are a despicable show of wealth.
We in India have overtaken the world as far as weddings are concerned. From the Versailles to Venice, there is an infection that has spread with the benign catering of this elegantly named Munna Maharaj. Our schools are no better. There was a time you went to school on the dint of merit. Today you go there on the dint of your father’s money: legitimate or otherwise. So, in anIndia like this, it doesn’t pay to be poor unless of course you are die-hard Communists but then again, Communists are hardly human.
Our parents would worry if we made unnecessary phone calls when we were young. But today, your parents want you to carry a smartphone only so that their peers can appreciate them for their savoir fare. So, in this kind of India, you must become rich and you must do that quicker than your neighbour or for that matter some ghastly relative who has been the attention of your evil eye.
So, here is a guide to becoming rich and doing so quickly at that. This is not as exhaustive a list as it should be but will serve the purpose for 2013.
- Join politics but not for the people. Do it for the money so that you remain focused and don’t have to worry (or feel guilty) about water, sanitation and electricity. If you, in the process, can muster up an army of goons, that will only enhance both your prestige as also your bank balance. Most politicians in this country are fine examples of rags-to-riches and tearing up other people to leave them in rags. It would be best to avoid two parties however. Avoid joining the Communists or for that matter the Trinamool. Both these parties are stupidly clean and tolerate zero corruption as far as money is concerned. If you join the DMK or the AIADMK, you will see the quickest return on investment. If you however join the Congress in Bengal you may not even see Rahul Gandhi leave alone a loaf of bread. The other parties, which allow you to live and let’s be rich, are the NCP, SP, BSP and about 73 other registered parties.
- Become a Government servant and ensure that you are never promoted where the CAG could scrutinise your activities; so it would help to rise to the level of a Joint Secretary or even a Director in any Government department. Try working for any Department that has to do with land, power, water, forests, finance, excise, alcohol, law and order and so on. It is tough at the beginning but then the longer you are in Government the swifter you lose your conscience so it is all a matter of time.
- Start a co-operative and see how everyone else other than you loses both the plot and the monies. There are, however, fine examples of those who have been very successful with co-operatives. One became the nation’s President and the other is President of a national political party. This is the most honourable racket you can get into other than legalised gambling but since the latter is only in Delhi’s farmhouses it will be a while before you can get there.
- Marry someone rich. This is the oldest trick in the book except it is getting refined now. There is no stigma in the male being the house-help if he can dig into his wife’s riches and equally into other men’s wives. I am seeing this remarkable trend of gender neutrality become all pervasive. Become a good solid househusband but for that you will have to work hard. You will need to work out and make sure you never utter an intelligent word which should not be difficult if all you do is pump iron. So, go forth into the world and stalk the place for unhappy single ugly but rich women and you might find that pot (literally so) of gold.
- Become a media baron. If you look around today, editors are richer than most industrialists and they have greater power as also greater cerebral acceptance, which is a good thing. Also, the other remarkable thing that is happening in today’s India is that some media barons have become wily businessmen. The media is only their side-interest: their main interest could well be drug or gunrunning but then who cares once you are rich. So, you may well try and become a media baron by starting a magazine that no one will ever read or running a channel that even Renuka Choudhry will not appear on. But it will surely get you on some Rich List and that way you can begin the journey of conning the banks and other sundry honest folks.
- Become a sports administrator. Look around you and you will observe the power and money that some of these sports folks command. The rule, however, is you should have never played any sport because it will be a meaningless distraction and you should be good at calculating margins on mundane things like clocks and astro-turf. Once you have done this, your life will be a merry go-around. Look at what some of our finest sports administrators have achieved? They are wealthy; they are powerful; some of them are even in the Cabinet and some have even taken the trouble of going to jail all for the cause of better sports inIndia. You must follow these iconic role models and change the imprint of Indian sport. Try and avoid cricket though. Never go to bed with an elephant for you never know when the pleasure will end and the pain begin.
Finally, there are other ways of getting rich too but they are neither quick nor are they unmitigated fun. You could if you really want to be Gandhian, become a teacher who doesn’t do private tuition. You could also be an honest professional in a fine company but then when you retire you will have to move to some old-age home in Benares. You could also become a lawyer or for that matter a judge but then why would you want to take the trouble of yeoman public service?
Just imagine 2013 to become your meal ticket to a life of earning without working. There is no better pleasure than that and you will always have the last laugh to the bank that one day you might in any case rob.
(This article appeared originally as ‘How to get rich quick in 2013’ by Suhel Seth in the Telegraph. Illustrations by Debasish Deb.)