Indias New Middle Class: Democratic Politics in an Era of Economic Reform


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(PDF) India's Middle Classes in Contemporary India | Leela Fernandes - schotinsurdiscpan.ml

While this debate is focused and concentrated on the discussions in India, it also outlines how international approaches have been used to study it. In doing so, it assesses the ways in which contemporary scholarship is expanding on the theories of class as designed by late nineteenth and early twentieth century thinkers, Karl Marx and Max Weber. It then examines how the ideas of late twentieth century theorists such as Pierre Bourdieu are integrated in understanding and comprehending the new middle class in its relationship with capitalism.

The context of the debate s. The first commentary on the middle class in India came from the historian, Banke Bihari Misra He argued that the middle class did not develop prior to the advent of the colonial regime; with the introduction of an adequate economic system, new principles of government and administration, and a new educational policy, the colonial regime laid the foundations of the making of middle class in India.

The sociologist, D. Mukerji , also contends that the middle class was a product of the colonial economy and the colonial pattern of education since British rule changed the very basis of the Indian social economy Mukerji, However, Mukerji argues that this class did not play an integral role in bridging the gap among the populace; it created barriers among them. He contends that its role had been to consolidate the colonial rule in the country in those times.

Contemporary literature on the middle class emerges in the background of the discussion on economic liberalization [1]. What was the nature of this new economy and how was it related to the growth of the middle class? Economists and policy-makers deliberating on the liberalized economy have argued that the development of this new economy was related to the growth of the middle class.

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This class was considered to be centrally linked to this new economy as it was supposed to strengthen economic growth. This middle class was thought to be the driver of this new economy through the adoption of new practices of consumption which in turn would allow for the expansion of the market; it was also suggested that this would decrease poverty.

What evidence did the government give to indicate that the reforms were successful and that the new middle class was growing? The evidence was given by its data-collecting organization, National Council of Applied Economic Research NCAER which gave quantitative evidence of the enormous expansion of this class. Its data indicates an enormous expansion of the middle class [2].

However, can size or income alone determine the nature of a particular class? By referring to various approaches on class and the middle class, sociologists and political scientists have intervened in this discussion and have critiqued these income and size-based definitions of class to suggest that qualitative attributes such as occupation, status or even ideology need to be taken into account while defining a class.

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Asia's Next Emerging Giant?: Political Change and Economic Reform in India

Political scientist Achin Vanaik and the sociologist Satish Deshpande have been critical of income and size-based assessments of the middle class. They have analyzed the middle class from the Marxist perspective and have examined it with respect to ideology and power. As a consequence, while Vanaik contends that the middle class is a part of the ruling elite, Deshpande argues that the Indian middle class is hegemonic. Most importantly, they look at class through the lens of power and contend that the middle class derives power from ideological representations. In this respect, he also attests that the middle class is engaged with non-manual jobs.

Similarly, political scientist E. He also suggests that occupation and status has a relationship with interests.

Economic Reforms for New India

Through empirical evidence, he suggests till the late s, most of the individuals in the middle class as defined by the NCAER were in public sector and government employment. They were beneficiaries of state subsidies and it was not in their interest to support deregulation and consumerism. On the basis of this evidence and analysis, he questions the hypothesis that that the middle class in India would be pro-reform and thus would support it. In this respect, his critique becomes significant as it transcends the income and size-based definitions of the middle class.

Furthermore, it also provides scope for integrating the intellectual debates on class as a consequence of which a discussion on the Marxist, Weberian and Bourdieuan approaches are ensued. Several scholars have used Bourdieu in order to assess the patterns of lifestyle and sociabilities of this class.


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Therefore, these interventions discussed above indicate that in order to discuss the middle class, the intellectual debates and approaches to class and power need to be analyzed. Therefore, the next section will discuss the theoretical approaches that have been used in order to understand the Indian middle class. Theoretical approaches to understand the middle class. Class has been a central concept for the social sciences as it has always been used in order to understand power. As a result, class has been theorized in manifold ways.

However, there has been little theorization on the concept of middle class. Therefore, this paper assesses the ways in which contemporary scholarship is expanding on the theories of class as designed by late nineteenth and early twentieth century thinkers, Karl Marx and Max Weber as well as late twentieth century theorists such as Pierre Bourdieu in order to understand the nature of the middle class. First of all, class has been a central concept for Marxism. Karl Marx has analyzed class in relation to ownership of the means of production.

As a consequence, the ruling class derives its power to rule. However, he did not analyze the concept of middle class in depth and termed it as the petty bourgeoisie. Another strand in Marxism looks at the relationship between class and ideology and thereby class, ideology and power. What is the relationship between ideology and power? In this respect, Antonio Gramsci has analyzed the role of ideology in the construction of class hegemony. For Max Weber, class has sociological attributes through its relationship with status Shortell, Weber argues that attributes such as status, honour and prestige attest power to classes.

He further contends that class and status come together in the form of power groups or parties, which act as institutional platforms for exercising political power. Pierre Bourdieu , , understands class as an ensemble of shared attributes. Additionally, Pakistan always made a distinction between terrorism directed against India and terrorism against the United States and other western nations. Pakistan was prudent enough to see that several of the terrorist groups under its control did not act against US interests, but the terrorist groups grew under the leadership of Al Qaeda and did not appreciate the need to take orders from Pakistan anymore.

The terrorist attack in the United States of 11 September was one such case. The author believes that America's future challenge will be China and the visible improvement in India—US relations is due to the China factor. There are also occasional factual errors too; for example, there is no Assistant Secretary of State for India p. Finally, while talking about India's imports of major weapon systems and the improvement of its defence capabilities, it would have been more appropriate if the author had referred to some Indian or international sources rather than simply citing an interview with President Musharraf broadcast on CNN.

Lastly, the many typographical errors will be a burden for any reader.

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Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan. Email: rajeswarirajagopalan gmail. Balancing the exploitation of natural resources with the protection of local ecologies poses technically challenging legal questions that are further complicated by political sensitivities and competing societal demands. These studies consider two key themes for sustainable management of the global commons: the environmental impact of urbanization, and equitable water use among riparian states.

Hegemonic aspirations : new middle class politics and India's democracy in comparative perspective

This approach is applied in analysing Rourkela's transition from a tribal village Chapter 3 to a rapidly industrializing and urbanizing centre of public-sector steel production in the late s and s Chapter 4 , whose monopoly has been inextricably shaped by the immigration of tribal and other socio-cultural groups Chapter 5.

Despite modern planning, a typical Indian urban structure has evolved that, as Chapter 6 contends, has accentuated dust and river pollution and a deterioration in the quality of life. Yet how this is to be achieved is remains unaddressed. Urban ecologists should be wary of pandering to the deterministic green myth that industrialization is inherently environmentally destructive.

Even so, Meher has produced an informative and well-researched study on the socio-environmental aspects of urbanization in India that will interest scholars and urban planners alike. Surya Subedi's edited volume presents a multi-disciplinary selection of papers on inter-state water management focusing on the Ganges river basin. Indeed, the idea that international law alone can bring about equitable and sustainable watercourse management between riparian states requires critical rethinking.

The chapters by B. Paradoxically, they find that international rules are rarely helpful in practice when ignored by states or subject to widely differing interpretations. Indeed, a possible, and yet for international lawyers and international relations scholars uncomfortable, solution may be a combination of domestic laws and local management practices. Dislodging epistemic preoccupations with top-down international solutions remains an uphill challenge. Legal scholars appear unwilling to question the suitability of the state-centric model enshrined in the Watercourses Convention for inter-riparian conflicts among developing countries, whose state capacities are weak.

In sum, this volume is an excellent reference source containing a range of up-to-date studies by some eminent observers. It will be of interest to scholars of politics, geography and international environmental law and should provoke much-needed critical debate and research on watercourse management in the South Asian and broader developing world context.

Martin Menski. Email: martin. The controversy surrounding the Sardar Sarovar Project SSP , a large dam on the Narmada River in western India, and the protests organized against it by the anti-dam movement Narmada Bachao Andolan, have helped to bring matters surrounding water management in India into a sharp focus.

The apparent water scarcity in regions such as Kutch in Gujarat has been used as the primary justification for the SSP. Mehta deftly argues that such a case has been made by using various persistent narratives to suggest life in Kutch is characterized by declining and increasingly variable rainfall, which has resulted in emigration, population decline and land degradation due to the increasing pressure of grazing animals.

Through rigorous qualitative and quantitative work, Mehta shows that there is no factual basis for such narratives. What conveniently gets forgotten in the evocation of water scarcity in Kutch as a justification for the SSP is the fact that cyclical scarcity is a part of the rhythm of life in Kutch. Its complex, relatively isolated and heterogeneous society has evolved by adapting to the relatively harsh semi-arid environment.

As Mehta shows, people in the region do not experience scarcity as an abstraction, but as a part of the cycle of scarcity and plenty that constitutes their lived reality.

As Mehta's work demonstrates, pastoralism is perhaps the most suitable livelihood strategy for a semi-arid region such as Kutch. There is an over-emphasis on relief as opposed to drought-proofing, and watershed development plans are generally seen and used as add-ons. This volume is a welcome addition to the growing scholarship on the commons in India. By documenting the numerous ways in which the various kinds of commons such as pastures, and village tanks are enmeshed with each other on the one hand, and with socio-cultural practices on the other, Mehta argues that village commons and their management regimes are as much socio-cultural phenomena as they are economic institutions.

It also adds to our understanding of pastoralism as an important and appropriate socio-ecological adaptation in the semi-arid parts of India that is getting increasingly marginalized by the state's promotion of irrigated agriculture. The book documents the social changes brought about in the Indian countryside by political democracy, and enriches the field view of caste. It is also an important chronicle of local practices of the developmental state, and adds to the emergent literature using multi-sited and inter-disciplinary analysis to explore links between the environment and development in South Asia.

Sailen Routray.

Indias New Middle Class: Democratic Politics in an Era of Economic Reform Indias New Middle Class: Democratic Politics in an Era of Economic Reform
Indias New Middle Class: Democratic Politics in an Era of Economic Reform Indias New Middle Class: Democratic Politics in an Era of Economic Reform
Indias New Middle Class: Democratic Politics in an Era of Economic Reform Indias New Middle Class: Democratic Politics in an Era of Economic Reform
Indias New Middle Class: Democratic Politics in an Era of Economic Reform Indias New Middle Class: Democratic Politics in an Era of Economic Reform
Indias New Middle Class: Democratic Politics in an Era of Economic Reform Indias New Middle Class: Democratic Politics in an Era of Economic Reform
Indias New Middle Class: Democratic Politics in an Era of Economic Reform Indias New Middle Class: Democratic Politics in an Era of Economic Reform

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