India’s newest temples – luxury malls to indulge the new elite

India’s small-town industrialists have been travelling to New Delhi, the capital, in their safari suits and gold Rolex watches to shop for handbags, watches, and shoes from luxury brand showrooms. On the streets of Bombay, Fendi strollers and Prada diaper bags are currently the most coveted items for some of the new mothers in India’s new elite…

India, today has the fastest growing number of dollar millionaires in the world. The 2008 Forbes List of Billionaires featured 53 Indians, the highest ever figure in Asia.

And in Vasant Kunj, a suburb in south Delhi, one “super-mall” promises to offer the new elite consumers exclusively luxury brands especially designed for India’s rich and famous. DLF Emporio.

DLF Emporio is a temple to self-indulgence; the rich can stroll past the imposing imperial palms, through courtyards where Mughal fountains tinkle and under the gold leaf ceilings in what is intended to be a brand heaven. “They need a Chanel bag or Armani tie to show the world their status. It’s the easiest way of distinguishing themselves from the crowd,” says Priya Tanna.

Technopak, a New Delhi-based retail consultancy group, estimates that 1.8 million Indian households earn $100,000 or more a year and spend about $10,000 per year on luxury goods.

And there are plans to build even bigger malls.

These are gated compounds of consumption. The rich are “sealed off from the sight and smells of the poor.” The malls symbolise the rigid segregation of Indians based on wealth.

Please understand – these people are not evil. They let themselves become symptoms of contradictions impossible to maintain in a healthy society.

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