India – Is Your ‘Middle’ Class Vanishing or Are You approaching an effective Tipping Point ?

While watching the recent promos of an Indian film viz. ‘Dum Maaro Dum’ in which Deepika Padukone – (one of the most popular India female lead actors) is found grooving in smoke ridden environment – I suddenly asked myself…Is that the face of the current “young generation” in India? Amazingly I found the answer geared more towards ‘yes’ than I would have hoped.

It is significant to note, that with the rise of modernization and development, the rise of activities pertaining to the night-life culture (which is primarily West gifted) is on significant rise. India as a whole had the concept of a the ‘middle’ class which was actually the set of people who would concentrate more on ‘savings’ than on spending. A paradigm shift in the same is to be noticed these days. Not so long ago, people in India could seldom be found spending over a couple of thousand bucks per person for a few hours in a disco, or on Martinis (the Bond way) and Margaritas and others– however this is common place today in the ‘everyday’ life. The small towns are fast catching up the metros in this aspect. With growth is such a (termed ‘chilled out’ and or ‘kool’) life-style the immediate effect is actually seen on the Young-generation who have money enough to spare in ‘THEIR’ hands, the source of the same could be it through pocket-money, or be it through earnings in small-time jobs (and not so often, long time careers). What is even more significant to notice is that these Young Bloods actually would not think twice of their savings before smoking off on pot, hash et al, along with the very many mocktails available on the menu. Somehow, although known to the seniors of the society and therefore the parents of such ‘kids’, yet no one seems to be actively stopping the growth and penetration of such irregular and harmful lifestyles.

There is no point in saying that people must enjoy– but this time the cost of the enjoyment is far significant on the economy of the country as a whole. The inherent effect of the same is the fall of the ‘Middle Class’ that has always been a source of ‘potential’ for driving India. Some 10 year back when the population of India was around 900 million, a national survey had resulted in the following classification w.r.t the income groups:
1. The Very Rich = 6 million
2a. The Consuming Class = 150 million
2b. The Climbers = 275 million
2c. The Aspirants = 275 million
3. Destitudes = 210 million

2a, 2b, 2c form the Mythical Middle Class of India. This was never a single sect.

Over the 10 years, population of India has grown well over a billion now, but the growth in the Very Rich sect has not been much. Poverty has decreased because now more people live above the poverty line — the benchmark for the same being having income of over $5 a day. But the most significantly affected sect (or sects) has been the Middle Class. which forms the mass of the population.

The shift is fast affecting the mind-set of people which is evident by the shocking rise of crime rates in and around the national capital and Delhi. Here is an article on the rise of Crime in 2010 in the same area where although the authorities want to paint a picture of lowered crime rates, the actual scenario is very different. The following excerpts are from the same report and it shows shocking numbers:

  • The number of cases filed under the IPC (Indian Penal Code) in 2010 was 48,161 against 47,069 in 2009 (an increase of over 2 percent),
  •  There was a rise in rape cases in 2010. A total of 489 rape cases were registered last year as compared to 459 in 2009.
  • Cases of molestation in the capital rose to 585 in 2010, against 528 in 2009.
  • There was a decline in murder cases, with 519 cases being recorded in 2010, as against 527 in 2009.
  • An analysis of motives in such cases revealed that 15 percent of the cases were due to “sudden provocation”, while another equal percentage was due to “sex related” motives.
  • The number of heinous crimes climbed up with 1,969 cases reported last year, against 1,948 in 2009.
  • There was a decline in dacoity cases. In 2010, 31 cases were reported as against 33 cases in 2009.
  • Motor vehicle thefts accounted for 29 percent of total crimes registered under the IPC.
  • There has been a substantial rise of about 24 percent in the number of snatching cases.
  • The commissioner also stated that 93 percent of these criminals arrested for snatching were first time offenders and 61 percent of them were illiterate or school drop-outs.
  • Interestingly, all the criminals arrested for the 16 kidnappings in 2010 were “first-timers”, with no previous criminal record. In 87 percent of the kidnappings, the accused were known to the victim’s family.

The question therefore is, should this continue, where would India be in the next 5-10 years? Apparently speaking is could sound like a silod view of the state of India, but effectively could we be looking at a ‘Tipping Point’ in India’s form and state ?

A lot remains to be discussed ! Let me know Your thoughts.

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