Flying high in India: The New Snob Index

rich-indiaLet’s face it! We all have that little green monster inside that makes us want to one-up someone else. Jealousy is in-built. Everyone likes to trump someone sometimes. And standing out in a crowd is the sweetest kick of all.

For example, I am completely gutted because there are over 158,000 millionaires in India currently and I am… well, perpetually broke! Credit Suisse predicts that the number of millionaires in the country will rise to 242,000 by 2017. While the likes of me are still learning how to count to a million, the rich and famous are flaunting it at levels I can’t keep up with.

In the world of the wealthy, new trends are birthed and sink every day. Gone are the days when driving a BMW got you stares that said ooh la la! That’s passé now. Today, you need more – much, much more – if you’re going to sizzle!

In the charmed world of the super-rich, nothing endures. Whimsy is all.  Here is our list of the new snob index in India:

Owning a Private Jet:

rich-india1bOk, it’s a little last year, but some things never go out of style! Owning a jet or having someone who owns a private jet in your close friends’ circle apparently gives you bragging rights. More brownie points if you’ve flown in one.

Well, we already know the Ambani brothers and Vijay Mallya own the swankiest private jets in India but there aren’t the only ones in the super hi-fi

In fact, the private jets’ market in India totals up to 12% of the global market. According to Frost & Sullivan, India has the maximum number of private jets in Asia. The high-fly number stands at 140 private planes (in 2011) versus 93 in China and 76 in Japan.  Oh!, and did I mention this number is expected to double by 2020?

Can I catch a lift to London, with anyone?

Owning a Yacht

This trend has been picking up steam slowly and is finally spreading its wings (or shall I say keel) to the I-am-not-a-billionaire circle. Again, our richest of the rich have owned luxury yachts for quite some time, but now of the rest of the Me-Too’s are getting there too.

The Mittals, Singhanias and Mallyas are not the only ones who have boats in their name anymore. According to Western Australia Trade Office’s report on the Indian boating and yacht industry, there were almost 300 boats registered in India in 2011, including approximately 120 luxury yachts and 150 speedboats.  The Yachting Association of India estimates around 120 boats are sold each year, 80 percent of which are speedboats.

Currently, Mumbai, Goa and Kochi are the major yachting destinations in India with Mumbai leading the number of boat owners. Yacht prices start at Rs 15 lakhs (a little less than 30,000 USD) and given the availability of EMI schemes, it is no longer a luxury afforded by the tiny fraction in the top bubble. Nevertheless, it still has the ‘wow’ effect. Now, I don’t own a boat but my hubby is a sailor by profession. Does that count?

Paddock Club at F1 India

It used to be that only a miniscule percentage of the Indian population followed Formula One racing religiously and traveled to Monte Carlo to catch the races. But since F1 made its Indian debut at the Buddh International Circuit in 2011, the crème-de-la-crème makes sure they are spotted at the paddocks because that’s the place to be. Having paddock passes (that cost an OMG-amount) and access to the after-party definitely burns a few hearts with jealousy. You get to see the cars, meet the team and party with the drivers.

It doesn’t matter if you know nothing about F1 except a driver named Schumacher and a team called Ferrari (FYI – the last time they were together was a million years ago!). Paddock presence means you’re hot commodity.

Paddock club VIPs in the past have included the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Shah Rukh Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Sunil Bharti, Naveen Jindal, Omar Abdullah, Arun Jaitley, Sania Mirza and Shoaib Malik. Watching supercars burn rubber at the speed of sound with the who’s who of India definitely adds to the snob element.

Owning Vintage Cars

Oh you drive a Mercedes Benz? Yawn! That really doesn’t impress me much. I mean, every spoilt rich brat owns a luxury car these days and it’s become quite a cliché!

However, if you own something old and expensive, that’s a whole another deal altogether. And by old, I mean really old – Vintage cars and bikes. Being a proud owner of a Rolls Royce, Bentley or a Buick from the early 1900s sets you apart in our eyes. It doesn’t matter if it can’t even move an inch; just the fact that it’s parked in your garage makes our eyes pop.

So who wins the award for the most number of vintage cars in India? That would be Mumbai’s Pranalal Bhogilal. He is the founder of The Vintage and Classic Car Club of India and owns around 250 vintage cars. Justified bragging rights? I think so!

In fact, the government has recently eased restrictions on the import of vintage cars manufactured before January 1, 1950. Considering vintage cars cost a fourth of the price abroad than they do in India, this should really help cool off the prices a bit. Not that I can still afford one… But if you can, go ahead and rub it in!