Tuesday 4 March 2008

Rich and famous

There are many books and shows on money, far fewer on fame. Why? More people want money than want fame? Or because money is a more basic need?

Or is there an opportunity staring at us? For how-to material on becoming famous (I don't mean PR related matter here, of which there must be plenty). Or a history of fame. Or both.

Which leads to the (somewhat vague) observation that there are more famous people in the West than over here. That's not just about mere numbers, it's also about density.

A monetary analogy would explain the point. Not only have the West more rich people, they also have higher per capita incomes and wealth. More people per 1,000 are well-off, and so on.

So with fame. There is less to spread around here. Films, cricket, and politics hog the limelight, and here too only a handful of names take the lions' shares. The same names keep popping up all the time.

One hears of the FORTUNE 500, but here only five or six names - Tata, Birla, Ambani, Mittal, IT - predominate the public's minds. The ad world boils down to Piyush Pande and Prashoon Joshi. Yoga means Baba Ramdev. All of science and engineering are equated with Dr Kalaam. In every category of product, we have far fewer brands to choose from than has the West.

Does this have to do with lack of opportunity here, which allows only a handful to stand out (assuming you agree with my basic observation that there are fewer famous people around here)? Do we try less hard? Or does it have more to do with the underdevelopment of niche and specialised media in India? Or do Indians have less time to spare, and less time to make fellow Indians famous.

Perchance, one can define a 'celebrity capital' and study its distribution (we appear to invest ours in fewer people, from fewer areas). I'm sure someone must have worked out the equations, or, at least, tried to. Who?

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