Thursday, April 26, 2012

Middle class

This one is the latest whipping boy of TV anchors and panelists

It was the Anna phenomenon that threw the Indian middle class into the limelight. For the first time since 1947, a swathe of humanity lifted itself up and marched into the Ramlila grounds and the waiting TV cameras. Until that moment, the lot had remained invisible; they did not vote, they did not agitate, they did not terrorize, they did not steal, they went about their business quietly and stayed off the national radar.

The one thing that fuelled and jettisoned them was the phenomenon of liberalization. While the visible India was busy looting the exchequer and wheeling and dealing and living it up, the middle class was adding to its investments in real estate, their children’s education, savings plans and personal entrepreneurship. The prospect of a dispensable income, a comfortable life style and future security were factors driving this relentlessly working mass of humanity. Through all this lifetime of drudgery and thrift, their glue and anchor remained the family unit. Needless to say, one generation’s drive prompted a saga of growth and opportunity and evolution for the successive progeny.

It is no secret that India’s growth rate spiked and so did her international image.  From a dowdy, meek, terribly diffident and nice body language, Indians made the ballistic switch to designer wear and attitude, going so far as to begin to wear their provinciality with a panache, some of it stoked by the “Dabangs and Piplis”  from Bollywood. Nowhere was this metamorphosis more evident than on the cricket field where the polite guys of yore had transformed into cocky, finger waggling images of defiance.

Today, when this newly confident middle class is blamed for being selfish and impervious to its social responsibility, I wonder at this surprising and misdirected demonization. In his recent interview with Barkha Dutt on NDTV, Javed Akhtar trashed the trending “anger” of the middle class, calling it a very self-oriented and self-focussed concern. He said the educated and professional India was supporting the Anna movement for her selfish reasons and that no one was actually bothered about the deprived and the poor. It is another matter and perhaps Javed Saab is not aware, that a sizable number of this reviled middle class’s children are choosing to shun dazzling salaries for social activism, based in no mean measure upon a sense of security provided by the consolidation efforts of their parents.

It would therefore not be far fetched to say that this segment’s “selfishness” in fact makes up the stable, productive, sane fabric of India. They are the class that harbour and nurture the “value system” of the nation. 

India’s middle class has had no help from any quarter. They are entirely self-made. They are also the component of India’s population that stand the most to lose, with the greatest value at stake. It is their hard earned prosperity that struggles to survive in the shadow of bribes and corruption and it is their peace of mind and a good night’s sleep that thrashes around under the ever present cloud of a national guilt over India’s disadvantaged.

The simple question to ask: Is it the people’s selfishness or the policy paralysis that got us the Standard and Poor “junk rating?” The key to improving our SP rating is simple; clear the long pending Parliamentary Bills, enforce our phenomenal laws, stop robbing the state coffers and leave the rest to India’s middle class. Rather than vilify the golden goose, the country ought to work to make it easy and possible for more Indians to come into the fold of this enterprising and ambitious section.

Aaja aaja jind shamiyane ke taley
Aaja zariwale neelay aasmaan ke taley
Jai ho! 

No comments: