Reality Check India

The middle class myth

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on November 29, 2008

What is the meaning of the term middle class ? It is a consumption category, thats all.

Behind every opinion that calls for the middle class to come out and vote is the assumption that this group is a tabula rasa.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  They are as susceptible to identity politics as anyone else. I would argue that more tabula rasas can be found in the desperately poor than in this category. You can hope to sway the poor with matinee idol candidaters, colour  TVs, and the latest ‘gas stoves and connections’ (just wait till the LS elections).  Nothing sways the educated middle class.

I personally know two large apartment complexes in stereotypical middle class areas where the voting sentiment is very high. The message is not lost. The apartment committee in one and a retired public servant in the other acted as energetic vote marshals. The only ones who did not vote were the children who were working abroad or in other cities  (quite a surprisingly large number). I will come to that later, but there is much that is wrong about the mechanics of voter rolls. Why cant a hostel student vote in his college ? Sure, this is a purely anecdotal piece of evidence, but I cant even see anecdotal evidence to suggest the opposite.

So, why the f**k am I trying to debunk this ?

What is the point of this watertight cynicism ?

Dont you have anything positive to say ?

If our vote cant change things, what else is left ?

I am trying to highlight the real dangers of the divide and rule tactics of the government. The real danger lies in the fact that you cant fight human individual self interest. We have no choice but to evolve the state to a level where the creation of, the protection of, and the promise of such interests are minimized. The way to do this is to subject these to a scrutiny regime. Big-ticket items like anti terrorism or water supply do not exist at all, if there is no one in parliament who depends on it for survival.

This does not mean you and I give up and not vote at all. I will continue to do my best to marshal my neighbours and chastise those who do not vote. We will continue to take baby steps. God willing, if I am able to grow rich and manage to attach my fortunes to a  SEZ or similar benefit, I will gladly escape this wretched free-agent-hood. I would have found my niche in India. I would have found my own benefit-protector for whom I would vote without hesitation.

I am only using this blog space to highlight something that is difficult to talk about in public in real life. If India continues this path of creating divisions in society, and holds such divisions to ransom, the true nature of the state will be a federation of narrow interests. Beyond that there are multiple failure scenarios, the most immediate one being the birth of a do-it-yourself attitude in dealing with the big-ticket issue of security.


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