Modern life is hard, say Indian men

13 November 2014

MUMBAI: Indian men find many aspects of modern life difficult to deal with, from achieving a satisfactory standard of living to raising a family, a new report has said.

The ManMood study from agency FCB Ulka involved 100 hours of interviews with men aged 18 to 44, single and married, parents and non-parents, in both workshops and in-home interactions. They were from the A and B socio-economic classifications and from the four metros as well as smaller cities like Kochi, Mysore, Jodhpur and Indore. The picture that emerged was of an increasingly dissatisfied, materialistic, vain and selfish man.

Just 26% of those surveyed said they were happy with their standard of living, down from a figure of 46% in 2001. Writing in the Economic Times, Ruta Patel, head of strategic planning at FCB Ulka, said they had a different approach to life from previous generations, emphasising the practical and downplaying the role of values.

This attitude manifested itself in the tendency of men to define themselves in terms of material worth, which can only exacerbate unhappiness, as the report noted that 'the goal post of success is constantly shifting".

One example of this materialism was evident in the rush to acquire electronic gadgets. "The acquisition of an expensive electronic item obviates the concern of taking on a loan due to the perceived image as an 'asset'," the report said.

It also identified 'appearance anxiety' as a related trend, since grooming is associated with success. Younger Indian men, in particular, were concerned with this, and in less affluent households were likely to be an early adopter of various types of branded cosmetics.

Domestically, men were reassessing their role but remained some way from being the new-age man often portrayed by advertisers. They were helping around the house more than their own fathers ever did and were more engaged with their children, but there was an underlying resentment at the need to add these duties to those of breadwinner.

The research also highlighted how male thinking on parental responsibilities is changing, as there is an expectation that children will become financially independent very early, to the extent of paying for their own higher education.

This was a revelation, said Patel, who spoke of a sense of 'I am not going to get back any of the money I spend on my child". She suggested there were opportunities here for the finance sector to help relieve anxieties.

Data sourced from Economic Times; additional content by Warc staff