Sudha Murthy, chairman of Infosys Foundation and wife of Narayana Murthy who is the co-founder of Infosys had an unforgettable experience at London’s International Heathrow airport.
Apparently, her plain salwar kameez was not up to standards and a fellow traveler felt it important to point out to her that Murthy was standing in the wrong lane and how she should go from the business class line and stand in the economy class queue.
Sudha Murthy was so affected by it, she even included it in her book, Three Thousand Stitches, where she gave a befitting reply to this kind of mindset and I quote “The concept that you automatically gain class by acquiring money is an outdated thought process.”
Which got me thinking about class, money and how it is all changing its meaning.
My entire purpose of this article is to show how people perceive their money, how they use their money, what money means to them and how it impacts ways of life and their thinking/philosophy. Also, address the question of whether money equates to class and the changing notion of what class means.
So let us take a look at the different ways that people spend their money:
1. Frugal Living:
One might confuse frugal as being a miser while that is absolutely not true. In its basic definition, a frugal living means being careful with your money, not spending it on an unnecessary luxury car or a yacht or buying that expensive diamond necklace just because you can.
Frugal living means living simply and on a budget even though don’t have to, and the biggest example of this is Narayana and Sudha Murthy. Narayana Murthy as per an article from Outlook India has a net worth of about INR 3,951 just from the Infosys holdings.
But even still, Murthy and his wife seem to live a frugal lifestyle where their monthly household budget is just Rs. 7,000 a month.
Earlier this year, Murthy and his wife had invited the current Infosys Chairman R Seshayee to breakfast which was a simple idli and dosa at their Bengaluru residence.
Both Narayana and Sudha Murthy are the perfect examples of living a frugal lifestyle, the face of simple living high thinking.
Sudha Murthy in an interview with Telegraph India said that “Money can give you certain comforts but money has limited use. And once you realise that, money becomes a burden to you. You donate it. Money is a heavy bag on your back and you should lead a simple lightweight life.”
One can see that to Sudha Murthy class comes from being socially and culturally rich and not about how expensive or rare an item you bought is.
A connecting angle to frugal and simple living would be philanthropy. But while a frugal lifestyle will eventually result in philanthropy, not every philanthropist will live frugally.
However, not living frugally does not diminish one’s philanthropy work as ultimately you are donating your money towards a good cause.
Some examples of people who have done immense philanthropy work would be Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.
Bill Gates with an estimated net worth of about 78.9 billion US dollars is considered to be one of the world’s leading philanthropist. Gates along with his wife Melinda have their Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation started in 2000. Since then the foundation has acquired an endowment of about US $44.3 billion and Bill Gates himself has donated about 28 billion US dollars to the foundation.
Warren Buffett has been considered an even bigger philanthropist than Bill Gates wherein just recently, Buffett has donated about 3.2 billion US dollars to charity. His charity Buffett Foundation has been in existence since 1964. Buffett himself with a net worth of about 73.2 billion US dollars has collaborated with Bill Gates to create the Giving Pledge campaign that encourages the wealthy people of the world to donate at least half their wealth to philanthropy.
Closer to home we have Shiv Nadar the chairman of HCL who became one of the top donors in 2016 by donating close to 630 crore rupees to charitable activities from his foundation the Shiv Nadar Foundation.
3. Conspicuous Spending
Conspicuous spending is pretty self-explanatory meaning spending that you do to display one’s wealth and social status and get validation from others.
Basically, anything that Vijay Mallya has bought and shown off can be defined as conspicuous spending. Conspicuous spending is seen more often in the new rich who have recently acquired wealth and want to show it off to the world as proof that they have money.
An unofficial term called ‘Gucci people’ is used to describe these kinds of people, basically who are all about showing off their brands like ‘Gucci’ and more.
The amount of conspicuous consumption can also be a determinant of how rich a country’s economy is. According to Euromonitor, conspicuous consumption can be a form of development phase, where it reduces or becomes inconspicuous the richer and more developed an economy gets. It noted that emerging economies have the bling nature wherein the more expensive and flashy a product is, the higher their status will be.
4. Inconspicuous Spending
The last but not the least kind of way the wealthy spend their money is by inconspicuous spending. This is more self-referring meaning one does not spend here for validation from others. Instead, it is done to enrich one’s own lives or that of the people around them.
Inconspicuous spending is all about private pleasure as per an article by The Atlantic where Euromonitor a market research group noted that after a certain point bling becomes less of a luxury and showing off.
Like someone with 10, 00,000 rupees can as easily buy a Louis Vuitton bag but when doing inconspicuous spending the person will probably get a private futuristic Jacuzzi and spa installed in their home since that is more about personal enrichment.
Or one can buy a Roberto Cavalli mini dress which would come under conspicuous spending, while IC would be spending the same 3.5 lac rupees on a TED talk ticket where one can indulge in intellectual talks that enrich one’s mind.
But even with IC there are 2 different kinds of it, where on one hand it can include making a big donation to a particular cause anonymously or it can be about buying an approx. 8 lac rupee mattress that will last for a long time and give you a good night’s sleep.
Motivation for IC could range from a complete personal need for time and attention to the need to contribute to the larger scheme of things in life.
So, in conclusion, this article just cements the concept of Sudha Murthy, of how being enriched in arts, culture, environment, social causes is the new classy or the new way of building class which does not have a currency attached to it.
Image Credits: Google Images