Answer by Raakhee V. Menon:
This is largely because of the attitude of the urban middle class towards the concept of failure itself.
The youngsters of the urban rich can financially afford to take risks. If they fail, there’s always a next time. Or there’s always a back-up plan. Or there’s always Dad.
For the youngsters of the urban middle class, for whom there is a choice, this isn’t the case. A lot of them would have educational loans or some loans to pay off. Most parents wish for a job with a regular pay for their children. Monthly budgets and bills are very important. The level of competition is way too high. It reminds me of this science exhibition my sister took part in when she was in Grade 8 or so. She had painstakingly made a model on some science subject after days of hard work. She made it with whatever odds and ends she could find at home. It wasn’t world class to look at, but it worked and explained the concept well. Then there was this other exhibit that was put up by this uber rich kid who had it custom made by professional plaster of Paris sculptors. Needless to say, it was the star of the exhibition and won the top prize too.
So even if the middle class kids have the zeal and the ideas to create something of their own, they do not have the kind of money to make the idea look glamorous, to say the least. A lot of people give importance to external appearance than the idea itself. Why else do you think ventures started by rich kids of famous industrialists become an overnight hit? Because the brand created by their fathers sells. Their fathers would probably have been middle class kids or even lower class kids at some point of time. But they made it big when the competition was not so rife. We all live in different times now.
And there is no dearth for our wants either. The urban middle class forms the largest majority of the Indian metros and the lifestyles they seek are nothing less than top-class. A majority of the shoppers in India’s major shopping districts belong to this category. Today, you can see middle class kids sporting branded outfits and iPhones and the like. To fulfill these wants, they have to have a steady income. It’s like a vicious circle of sorts. Societal standing has also become largely dependent on materialistic things.
Yes, we can face failure. We face it all the time from different quarters. And we aren’t afraid to face it either. But failure for an average working middle class person can be very very costly …financially and socially. The society we live in also looks at failures with utter contempt. It is never perceived as ‘his venture failed’, it is always ‘he failed’. A guy I know has his own business and he tell us that during some months, he earns anything between 1.5 to 2 lakh Rupees (approx. $2250 to $3000) per month, while in some other months, he goes totally penniless, without a single payment coming his way. This uncertainty can be very unsettling for a working middle class person, who has monthly bills to pay, school fees to remit, an EMI to pay and many other mundane things that take up a chunk of his monthly income. This is usually why entrepreneurship is generally discouraged among youngsters.