india octopus class


india octopus class

A rising cohort of approximately 200,000 affluent families, equivalent to one million individuals, is exerting a substantial influence on consumer spending. Their wealth has been amassed through several factors:

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  • Financialization of Physical Assets: This group has capitalized on the financial transformation of physical assets.
  • Networked Expansion: The widening network connectivity across India has allowed affluence to permeate into smaller towns and cities.
  • Highly Paid Executives: A cadre of well-compensated executives in rapidly growing enterprises has emerged.
  • Concentration of Power: Political and financial influence has coalesced in the hands of a select few families in most urban centers.

These families, dubbed the “Octopi families,” are unabashedly embracing conspicuous consumption, now propelling India’s consumption growth. Consequently, it is prudent to shift investment portfolios away from mass-oriented consumption and toward the burgeoning class-based consumption.

Antara Baruah poignantly captures this transformation, where opulence finds expression in driving luxury vehicles, enrolling in prestigious educational institutions adorned with high-end fashion, and erecting grand edifices while savoring gourmet tandoori cold coffee and relishing kulhad pizza. This phenomenon is pervasive across tier-2 Indian cities, oscillating between newfound affluence and ostentatious opulence.

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The Rapid Emergence of the Super-Rich: Data and Metrics

India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has skyrocketed from USD 607 billion in 2003 to USD 3.75 trillion in 2023, signifying a sixfold surge in national income over two decades. Nevertheless, this prosperity is not evenly distributed. A minuscule elite, comprising around 200,000 Indian families (or one million individuals), has witnessed an extraordinary accumulation of wealth during this period. According to BCG, between 1999 and 2019, the wealth of India’s elite ballooned by a factor of 15.8. Multiple data sources underscore the rapid ascent of the super-rich in India:

  • Income Tax Data: A surge in income tax returns filed for incomes exceeding INR 1 crore in the financial year 2022-23 highlights this trend, marking a 49.4% increase from the pre-pandemic year of 2018-19. In absolute terms, over 2.69 lakh income tax returns were filed for incomes exceeding INR 1 crore for the financial year 2022-23.
  • Corporate Profits: A handful of Indian companies, numbering no more than 20, have seized approximately 80% of the profits generated by India’s economy, propelled by exponential digital transactions and infrastructural improvements.
  • Wealth Management Data: Wealth management reports from institutions like Credit Suisse and BCG corroborate the staggering wealth accumulation among India’s super-rich.

Two Distinct Wealth Creation Models

The ascent of the super-rich in India unfolds through two distinct wealth creation models: small-town and big-city models.

  • Small Town Wealth Creation Model: In smaller towns, enterprising individuals start with traditional businesses and transition to formalized, profitable ventures. These ventures eventually extend into diverse economic activities, accumulating financial, social, and political influence, akin to an octopus extending its tentacles.
  • Big City Wealth Creation Model: In contrast, urban octopi often possess advanced technical qualifications and secure well-compensated positions within thriving Indian corporations. Many eventually venture into entrepreneurship, often in the technology sector, and become dollar millionaires in a few years.

Case Studies of Super-Rich Families

Notable case studies of super-rich families include RSPL’s transformation from a detergent manufacturer in Kanpur to a conglomerate spanning dairy, renewable energy, and real estate, and DB Corp’s journey from a single Hindi daily in 1958 to becoming India’s most popular and widely circulated newspaper.

Investment Implications

Investment strategies are adapting to capitalize on the shift towards class-based consumption, with companies aligning their products and services accordingly. Notable examples from Marcellus Investment Managers’ portfolios include:

  • Titan: India’s most profitable jeweler with a dominant market share in watches and a growing chain of stores selling expensive sarees.
  • Kotak Mahindra Bank: A respected private banking institution managing wealth for India’s top families and boasting a rapidly growing asset management business.
  • Eicher Motors: Creator of the iconic Royal Enfield brand, which has achieved remarkable success in the premium motorcycle segment in India.


As this trend continues to evolve, investment strategies are shifting to harness the burgeoning class-based consumption in India, and this shift is expected to gain momentum in the coming months.

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