Sunday, April 8, 2018

Understanding Son of Sharmaji

What is Son of Sharmaji or "शर्माजी का बेटा"?

Okay, to explain this concept, I will have to keep my political correctness in a corner for a while.

Indian parents, especially in the middle class of the society are by and large very competitive. They compete using their children. The definition of success of their children depends on how the neighbor’s/friend’s/brother’s/acquaintances’ children are doing.

“Sharmaji ka beta” (Son of Sharmaji - SoS) is a common term we children (and future competitive parents) use for those whom with we are constantly being compared.

No matter how smart you are, or how much well paid you are, there are one or several “SoS” who will be ahead of you. Parents make sure that the accomplishments of the SoS will be thrown at your face (subtly or directly) time to time. They think that it “motivates” you to do better.

It is actually motivating. Most of the times, it will boost you to chase that SoS only to find another SoS running miles ahead than you. It becomes a never ending race.

I do not want to undermine or insult our parents. It’s not their fault. They have been sacrificing a lot to make their children’s life better. They make sure that we get best of the education and opportunities. The same thing thousands of parents doing for their children around them. Now some of the kids in these thousands make it big. It benefits their parents spectacularly. The other parents also start expecting that their kids too do the same for them. A single such success story can fuel aspirations of hundreds of families.

This is because the structure of our society. At any point an average Indian has at least 10–15 cousins, 15–30 acquaintances and if the mother is working, another 30–40. Total around 100 kids to compete with. Chances are that even 5% of them are doing wonders financially/ Academically, the pressure rises for all the other kids.

A person from a developed country can only imagine why the big fuss.

Prior to liberalization in the early 90s, most Indians were almost on the same level of society - financially. That means, up to that generation everyone almost had the same opportunities (even though it meant that everyone was basically poor).

Liberalization, access to education and overall increase in awareness opened up real world and new opportunities for Indians like a floodgate. I think this is the point where even a common clerk started dreaming to send his son/daughter to the developed countries (specifically the US) for education.

An SoS working in the US could earn more than 10 folds in few years of what his parents had earned in their entire working life as a government servant/ bank clerk in India. It meant that they suddenly moved one level up from their current social status. No wonder it made others look up to the SoS.

Working in the developed country is just an example what SoS’s were doing. In recent times the area of influence of SoS has reached new horizons. Following is the not so comprehensive list of the typical SoS.

1. NRI SoS - Goes to IIT/NIT/REC/IIM. Works in US/Europe/Mid-East saves a ton of money. Sends more than required to the parents back home. Takes them on a world tour. Buys them a house in lavish neighborhood. Marries to a girl recommended by his parents gives them cute grand children who speak with them in an American accent over skype. Gets a green card - Moksha for his parents.

2. MNC SoS - Works on a higher position in an MNC in India. Does all the above NRI SoS does for his parents minus the American accent grand children and the green card.

3. Entrepreneur SoS - Starts his own company. Does all the things MNC SoS does with added pride.

4. Civil Services SoS - Becomes IAS/ IPS/ IFS. Pride for the parents plus respect in the society. Less money than first three SoS’s though. Smart grandchildren as the daughter in law/son in law would likely be of same cadre. High possibility of one or many of the grandchildren being of 1st SoS type in future.

5. Armed forces officer SoS - Mostly same as Civil Services SoS with more pride but much less money plus fear of losing him/her any moment.

We are also aware that we are the SoS for someone else lagging behind in the race.

I hope as Indian society and economic stature of India will improve, this SoS race will be a thing in the past. However, the times are far. India has at least 6–7 such layers of society stacked. If the SoS is forgotten from one layer, he will be there in the next lower layer for a generation or two. It also will mean nucleation of families.

P.S. As of today 3rd June 2017, there is one more SoS has born.
The NRI PM SoS - Leo Varadkar.
My mother gave me the familiar look while watching the news.

Originally added as my answer to a Quora question. 

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