It’s one of those things we see all the time but never think as to how it started. Several men in India – be it autowalas or bus conductors – sometimes let their little finger nails grow out longer than the rest.

And we decided to explore some theories as to what exactly motivates this peculiar bias for the little finger’s nail.

Lipstick Alley

One of the more bizarre theories is the nail serves as an organic tool to scoop up and snort cocaine with. But it’s highly unlikely that millions of men in a developing nation with scant resources groom themselves in order to support a fairly expensive addiction.

Another possible explanation could be just how one long nail on your hand makes several parts of your own body infinitely more accessible. I speak, of course, of an itchy ear, an itchy foot and everything in between.


An alternative theory, on the other hand, makes a lot more sense.

Historically, having at least one long nail is associated with being upper class – an indicator of wealth and elegance for a man.

And, quite understandably, the little finger nail tends to be the one that’s grown out for practical purposes – being the least used finger.

Forum Interia

Long nails, especially when they are clean and unchipped, point to a man belonging to a socially superior community – much like in other parts of Asia where growing out, bejewelling and decorating finger nails was symbol of status for both men and women.

Long finger nails later came to indicate that they are not manual labourers but involved in administrative or academic roles at the workplace. It was a tool to set them apart from the larger crowd of hands-on labourers in the professional arena.

And while most people in the administrative and academic fields of work don’t seem to practice this on a large scale any more, the trend seems to persist with blue collar workers who still abide by this tradition.

Lady Bijoux

Well, be it the desire to project high status, the desire to itch your ear in the most satisfying way possible, or a possible coke habit, I suppose all we have to say is – to each his own.