What happens when a billion people triple their consumption in 10 years?
This is likely to happen in India. We are spending more on food, clothes, cosmetics, education, financial services, media, housing, durables, education, leisure, luxury goods, healthcare and so on. The number of young, affluent & eager-to-consume people are increasing, rapidly. A previously deprived ocean of humanity is on a warpath to consume with a vengeance. Luxury becomes necessity very fast. Frugality is passé. Consumption is in. Its our turn. We are growing, earning more, and want to consume more. No apologies.
Such a fast-paced consumption will impact our lives significantly, and quickly. People will change. Their outlook will change. Society will change. Ethics & morals may change. Political ideas & public policies will change. Corporate behaviour will change. Our environment will change. Our aspirations will change. The way the world looks at us will change. They way our country acts & the world reacts will change.
What are the possible outcomes in 2028?
- Business as usual.
- We are growing, earning more & consuming more
- No big upheavals in society and politics
- Income inequalities increase. Environmental degradation worsens.
- We aren’t alarmed.
- Social, political, judicial & civic institutions are vibrant
- We are struggling, but the future looks bright.
- Social & political tensions rise
- Significant increase in income inequality.
- Widespread corruption, pollution & water shortages
- Large-scale corporate adoption of automation.
- Unemployed and poor millions threaten social stability
- Civic, judicial, political & social institutions are not able to cope
- Search for new models of growth
- Regress & collapse
- Widespread social unrest
- Political chaos
- Environmental disasters
- Filthy rich. Filthy poor
- Call for revolution
We won’t neatly fit into such scenarios. 2028 may be mixed. We may not have become a developed country, measured by per capita income or happiness. Our quality of life may have gone up, but not uniformly. We may be far from being an equal society. Our physical infrastructure may have grown significantly, but social infrastructure may not have kept up. We may still see poverty on the streets. Wars, diseases, floods, famines, other natural & instigated calamities will have their own say.
We will be lucky if its ‘business as usual’ in 2028.
The world has not yet witnessed a billion people marching towards a consumerist utopia.
Another billion people in the neighbourhood are also marching towards a similar goal, though to a different beat.
Interesting times ahead.