ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Role of the Middle Class

Ashok K Lahiri deserves to be complimented for expressing his views on the role of the middle class in economic growth in Asia in general and India in particular (“The Middle Class and Economic Reforms”, EPW, 15 March 2014). While one may not agree with all the conclusions he has drawn, one cannot miss the lucidity with which he has put forward his ideas.

Lahiri attributes the low middle-class voter turnout as its apathy to exert its influence on the course of economic policies. First, one may question if the economic policies can be influenced even by a “politically-active” middle class. Corporate houses, on the one hand, and big landowners, on the other, outline the economic policies that satisfy their class interests. The middle class may at the most get some concessions. Second, while talking of the political activism of the rural middle class, one cannot ignore their caste affiliations. On many concessional issues, they may take the side of the caste they belong to instead of closing ranks with the urban middle class. Caste interests may prevail over class interests. Third, in spite of reluctance to cast their votes, the organised urban middle class continues to raise their voice for more concessions and forces the policymakers to meet most of these.

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