Author : Gayatri Jayaraman
Publisher : Bloomsbury Publishing India
Pub Date: July 2017
Source : Review copy provided by the Publishers (Thank you!)
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The characteristics and reasons for urban poverty are manifold and seem to repeat across class structures: migration, culture shock, real estate costs and unrealistic expectations of city life, a lack of financial education, corporate cultures that perpetuate stereotypical workforces, a glamourised entrepreneurial culture that focuses on icons of spending instead of struggle, and economically and politically, the rise of the cashless credit economy and the demise of the thrift economy and its conservative icons.
The book will use the case studies of young Indians, typically in their first or second jobs, migrants to major Indian metros, living in these conditions. The reasons for the poverty they experience are varied, and influenced by the industries they work for, their family backgrounds, other financial obligations, social stratas, and peer groups. There are so far, no studies available for this in India, and is a rising phenomenon in the US where it has been called ‘poverty with no name’. Gayatri’s short piece on the Urban Poor crossed 1.1 million views on Buzzfeed – the highest number for any Indian feature article to date
Before heading to the review, I should point out that I’m not a big fan of Non-fiction and I have tried to give an honest review as much as possible.
The book is divided into four parts – Who are the Poor, Why do they spend, Brand I, Go for Broke. Each of these sections have several anecdotes and examples that are related to the titles. For example, the first section – ‘who me, poor’ has stories of people struggling to fit in, carve their niche, and in the process spend a lot of money to get attention and to build networks and survive. The story of the fashionista who skipped meals just because she needed money to live in the ‘happening’ place in the city and wear designer clothes shook me. The reason we spend is mostly attributed to the fact that a successful career depends on spending beyond our earnings. I’ve been working for the past 4 years, living away from home and I know what peer pressure, the easy money and the city life can turn you into.
The part about credit cards and EMI’s was like a wakeup call because I’m guilty of buying expensive stuff and paying excessive financial charges. And like me, there will be others, a huge mass of them. I felt like this book was meant for this crowd, (the ones who spend on something that to most parents would look unnecessary) to create an awareness, to make them understand that impressions can be made without the need for spending more than they can afford.
A must read, especially for youngsters who have just started out with their first jobs.
My rating is 3.5/5