Letters to the editor

The rise of the middle class

In "Middle class: vote and revolt" (FE, January 5), economist Surjit Bhalla points out that the Congress party politicians disregard any signs of middle class anger and revolt and also that the Congress party ruled India for all but 3 of the first 43 years of Independence when the middle class was non-existent. First through Anna Hazare's anti-corruption movement and then through the current anti-rape, pro-equality demonstrations, the seemingly non-existent middle class has registered its existence in a big way in India. Going by the author's estimation of the size of the Indian middle class in 2012 as 53% of the population, the cost of disregard for the middle class anger is going to be unaffordable for all political parties. The Congress must not forget that the Independence movement was started by the educated upper middle class with the launch of the Indian National Congress in 1885. In modern times, it is the middle class uprising which brought political and societal changes in several countries with the latest Arab Spring pulling down even the long-standing hardcore dictatorships like those in Libya and Egypt. The self-propelled non-political demonstrations, whether it is Anna Hazare's or Arvind Kejriwal's against corruption or Indian youth's against rape are distinct because of active participation of the middle class, which so far had been taken as indifferent and self-contained. These demonstrations are not seeking for regime-change but for change in the system of governance. Political parties in general and those in power in particular can no more ignore or treat these demonstrations with disregard or dismiss them. The middle class is now significant, very much existent and all set to strike back on every failure of the system until the system is set right.

MC Joshi

Lucknow

To be or not to be

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