The “Good Life”: Third Age, Brand Modi and the cultural demise of old age in urban India


  • Tannistha Samanta Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India



Cultural Turn, Third Age, Brand Modi, consumerism, India


In this piece, I outline the possibility of understanding old age through the lens of cultural gerontology highlighting the intersecting logics of age with consumption, leisure and identity. I argue that with rising affluence and demographic aging, India is poised to experience an emergent cultural movement, the Third Age (Laslett, 1989), wherein access to cultural capital and an active participation in a leisure culture will offer social membership among upper middle class older adults. Using examples from luxury senior housing projects and travel/holiday packages, I reflect how this process of agentic consumerism with a focus on the ideals of youthfulness, choice, self-expression and pleasure is turning the decline narrative (typically associated with “natural” aging) on its head. The success of this market-driven cultural model, I argue, lies in the celebration of a project on the self where the responsibility to “age well” rests with the individual-a key political economy of the neoliberal regime-absolving the state of public provisions and social security. In conclusion, I show how age and political masculinity intersect to create, what I call, Brand Modi- a potent vision of active and age-ambiguous consumer citizenry. Through this construction, I argue, life-stage has been suitably marketed to match the aspirations of a greying cohort marking a new stage in the cultural constitution of age in urban India.       


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