The Great Indian Middle Class: An Economic Driver

Posted on November 5, 2011 in Society

By Vanshika Chaudhary:

The Indian economy has been doing fairly well for the last few years or so, and the most striking characteristic of India today is the explosive growth of the middle class. This middle class was branded as conservative and thrifty a few decades back. However now, India’s middle class is more dynamic, liberal and forms the pillar of a vibrant economy that we have been witnessing lately. This middle class is now playing a definitive role in emergence of India globally, which is full of energy and enthusiasm that is driving the economy towards success and development.

We have always believed that the population has served as the “big” problem for us. It might be true, but there is another aspect to it as well. Although there is no denying that we need to control our population, the youth, which comprises 60 per cent of the total population of the country, can be an asset. Former President, APJ Abdul Kalam once said that large populations created demand for goods and services and was the basis for economic growth. However, we need to give equal opportunities to everyone, including the lower strata of the society through good education. A high population creates large markets, which is further advantageous if people are educated. A rise in the level of education gets translated into rise of income. This growth of our middle class has changed our society and politics distinctively. Its worldview is different and if the middle class organizes itself in a better way, it has the power to revolutionize the society. Middle class is more conscious about what is right or wrong. They know what their rights are and how to fight for them. Till date, the story has been good, but we cannot be complacent and need to strengthen our middle class.

With the rise in numbers, it is important for us to realize that we (the middle class) have the control of the steering and need to drive our nation forward. We need to develop a better social and civic sense. The middle class was lauded for its action in the Jessica Lal case, Reservations, RTI act but still we respond to only those issues with which we can co-relate ourself. There are thousands of acts of injustice, corruption and unethical behavior to which, many a time, we become party or beneficiary. We cannot distance ourselves from the range of issues that concern our nation and we must realize that our views, opinions and actions can do wonders. It is equally important to keep the moral and social fabric of the society intact and present a true image of a united India.

The management consultancy firm, McKinsey predicts that India’s middle class will reach 583 million by the year 2025. India will reach Aristotle’s ideal by then, and the middle class will constitute 50 per cent of the total population. With the increase in the size of middle class, India is bound to scale new heights and avenues.

In India’s ascendant trajectory towards global power status, one major strength that is attributed to it is the existence of a large English speaking, highly educated and professionally well qualified middle class. A highly educated and economically prosperous middle class provides the backbone of an advanced nation and in the case of a developing economy like India it provides the shoulders and the muscle on which the nation climbs the trajectory to power. India’s rising knowledge-based economy is squarely based on the shoulders of its ever expanding middle class. The ‘Great Indian Middle Class’ is said to number today between 320-350 million people. This amounts to nearly 30% of India’s total population. In comparative terms it amounts to much more than the entire population of the United States.

While this fact is one of which India can be proud of, what is regrettable is that this ‘Great Indian Middle Class’ has not politically empowered itself.

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