India is probably a country of extremities. On one hand we have so many people going hungry, impoverished and poor people all around. And on the other, we have these super rich, who waste money like there is no tomorrow. What else can one call people who dole out lakhs of money to get a particular number plate for their car? This is probably the pettiest of the petty material pursuits of those who want to constantly announce to the world that they have arrived. Maybe more than social status is reeks of deeply embedded insecurities.
Even in these pandemic times, when majority of Indians are struggling to put food on the table, its quite baffling to know that between April to July 2020, when many were going through the most trying times of their lives, Rs.66 lakh was earned through auction of car number plates. Yes, this is just a fraction of the Rs.4 crore last year during the same period. Four days ago, someone in Delhi paid Rs.7 lakh for a 0009 registration plate. Registration numbers that fetched more than Rs 3 lakh 0005, 0007 and 1111. The highest bid received for a two-wheeler plate was Rs 50,000 or the number 0006.
So why does someone pay so much, sometimes more than the price of the car itself for car number plates. The most obvious reason – to announce when they are on the roads, maneuvering and jostling their way through auto’s, buses, cycles, scooters and scores of cars, that a VIP is in the car. Really? Apart from satiating their own ego, does anyone notice these numbers? And the VIP has to use the same road as the auto and scooter, right? So what is the point of making this announcement?
Another big reason is superstition. In a country which recently took giant strides into Mars, we are prone to superstitions. A particular number become a purpose as though the whole life depends on it. Thus numerological compulsions, the ‘lucky’ factor are also what make most spend such astronomical money on number plates.
This is perfect for Registration & Licensing Authority (RLA), which plans to make maximum use of this superstition, aiming to raise good money for e-auction of fancy number plates. At least someone will gain positively from this mindless pursuit.