From billionaires adding numbers to their income to the privileged roaming and socializing without the worry of contacting the virus, the debate of Haves vs Have Nots has only risen amidst the announcement of second lockdown in various cities and towns.
While the debate always existed, it has now taken the turn towards the matter of life and death. The Haves have always had more of everything, but never has the discussion of the Haves having more access to life been in the limelight. If anything, until a few years ago, the Have-Nots aspired to be like the ‘Haves’. However, their discomfort with the system started becoming palpable. With the Modi Government coming into power, the Have-Nots started questioning the status-quo. This was further dialed up with the popularity Kangana Ranaut garnered by standing up to the industry-biggies.
However, the second wave of the Covid-19 Pandemic in India has started to verbalize and call out the ‘Haves’ for showing their privilege when others are distressed.
The screenshots represent the Have Nots facing acute shortage of medical and financial help when the privileged class sits in the comfort of its wealth.
The conversations and memes posted on social media are a clear shift in the chatter turning to the Have Nots raising the questions of equality, social justice and the widening economic gap. The under privileged are seriously questioning the social significance attached to the privileged class and to the respect attached to wealth, money, upward class mobility and the power that comes with it. The Haves are realizing that opulence of wealth and vanity is not the real power anymore, and that power, is up for grabs.
Does this mean that the culture of opulence, abundance and wealth creation might take a shift towards genuine societal care and charity? We think that the ‘Haves’ will now have to find a different way to enjoy their wealth in private and not flaunt their privilege. They would also have to find a different way to fulfill their status and self-esteem needs. Would this give rise to more exclusive apps like Clubhouse? Can brands create products for discreet consumption? Will the symbols of status – wealth, branded apparels and accessories, travel become more altruistic and represent charity, helping others and staying humble? Will brands start betting on conspicuous consumption and create offerings which symbolize more by having less?