A veteran journalist who enjoys looking at the quirky side of life

R K Nair

In the fast lane

| Updated on January 24, 2018

ferrari

It was a memorable birthday for this boy who turned nine a fortnight back. For the first time, he was allowed to drive the family's Ferrari with his five-year-old brother in the passenger seat. Their proud mother filmed the feat while the boys zoomed in the expensive sports car.

No, this did not happen in the US or Europe, but in Thrissur, Kerala.

"It was his ninth birthday and since he was insisting for months we allowed him to drive the Ferrari. It's not easy for a child to achieve such a feat at this age!" gushed the mother, who had uploaded the clip on YouTube where it went viral.

The boy's father, Muhammed Nisham, who has a thriving tobacco and real estate business, owns 18 cars totally worth over Rs 20 crore. The woman said her son had driven the family's Lamborghini, Bentley and other cars. "He has been driving since he was five," she proclaimed proudly.

The outrage caused by the YouTube clip forced the police to file charges and Nisham turned himself in yesterday. He has been charged with endangering the life of a child and allowing a minor to drive.

This is the latest example of the excesses India's nouveau riche indulge in. According to a report by Crisil and Kotak Mahindra Bank last year, the number of 'ultra-high net worth individuals' with assets worth Rs 25 crore and above would treble from 62,000 last year to just under 2,20,000 by 2015.

To cash in on the boom, companies selling super-luxury status symbols such as private jets and helicopters, and high-end cars have increased their presence in India.

Helicopters are now given away as a wedding gifts in some parts of the country, while in others groups of businessmen have formed cooperatives to buy large fleets of Mercedes cars in areas without dealerships.

It, however, also highlights the growing income disparities and polarisation of wealth in the country. Even as the rich get richer, the number of poor is growing rapidly. While the children of the super-rich drive Ferraris and Lamborghinis, children from poor households in urban slums and mofussil backwaters can't afford to have even bicycles. In fact, the latter even don't have access to safe drinking water.

According to the Planning Commission figures, the number of people below the poverty line grew to 40 crore last year, from 37 crore the year before. Actually, the Planning Commission does not count those who earn more than Rs 35 daily as poor. So the actual number of destitute population in this country should be truly mind-boggling.

So it will be a good idea to explore ways for a more equitable distribution of wealth before the country implodes under the corrupt and decadent social and political system prevailing now.

An update:

Ferrari kid’s dad held for attempted murder

Published on April 30, 2013

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