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Rising Salaries, Soaring Expectations

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Rising salaryBlue films is how pornographic films were usually referred to, but today, if the colour blue is associated with obscenity, it will be because of the high figures for which our ‘men in blue’ or cricketers, have been sold in recent times. Yes, sportsmen’s earnings seem obscenely rich when compared to what most people earn in their lifetimes. Film stars’ earnings have routinely been so. Mukesh Ambani’s take-home and the widely circulated details of his residence are more grist to the mill about the obscene amounts made by the rich and famous.

And yet, it is not only rich and famous sports or film stars who are drawing big bucks today. Across corporate India, young and middle level professionals are getting ready to have more money in the bank, and more to spend on vacations abroad, designer clothes and similar frills as a routine part of their lifestyles.

So what does this do to the institution of marriage? Is matrimony boiling down to only “the money, honey”?

Soft-spoken Anita is just getting over a divorce from a husband who was not even ambitious enough to want to have a car. “I’m not a ‘material girl’ or anything,” says Anita. “But a man’s material worth is really a measure of how much he values himself, how much he wants to succeed or not. In the case of my ex-husband – he just didn’t feel like trying for anything better. I hated that loser attitude.” Anita is now settling into a relationship with a man much more successful in monetary terms. But strangely, the few arguments they do have concern money – or who is trying to impress the other with their own financial clout.

“Money is a very touchy subject between the sexes,” says Saloni, a hugely successful woman running her own real-estate agency in Mumbai. “It is the single reason I am still single at 34. My mother despairs whether I will ever meet anyone who is earning more than me. I’ve given up searching for someone richer and more successful to marry. Now I am just immersed in my work. If on the way I meet someone who is decent-natured and earning a lot less, I will propose, and I hope he accepts,” she says with a rueful smile.

If soaring salaries have made people very conscious of success being equal to net worth, and raised the expectations for both brides and grooms about their spouse’s CTC, they have also opened up another area – where people’s individual qualities are valued more than their bulging wallets.

“Everything has a flip side,” says Saloni. “If cricketers are being sold like high-prize horses, its not just something to cry about. At least it opens up the minds of parents – who can let their children take to sports, instead of urge them to ‘Study! Study!’ all the time. Same way, if I can buy everything and afford everything I want for myself, I’m actually going to look for and find a caring, considerate guy – his salary be damned!”

You’re right, Saloni. More money all around does shift some values and raise marital stakes. But hey, its not the end of the world!

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