Is only ‘urban middle-class’ in love with Anna?

It might appear blindingly obvious that corruption affects every Indian, rich or poor, young or old, male or female, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh or Parsi. Yet, to the credit of the status quoists, they have succeeded in painting it as an urban middle-class issue (id est “minority”), from which the rural underclass (id est “majority”) is somehow magically disconnected, even uninterested if not complicit.

The burgeoning, in-your-face Anna Hazare phenomenon too suffers from the same optical illusion, as sections of the political establishment (and their drumbeaters in the media) paint his campaign as an “urban middle-class” fixation, something that apparently only leaves tech-savvy, TV-watching, non-voting, candle-lighting “people like us” (PLUs) frothing at the mouth.

Vinay Sitapati, a former journalist who is currently a graduate student at the department of politics in Princeton University, expands the logic some more in the Indian Express:

“The answer lies in a fundamental shift in the middle class, starting with economic liberalisation in the early 1990s. The pre-liberalisation middle class was typically from professions that grew around the state — such as lawyering, accountancy, medicine, and of course, government service.

“This relationship mattered: it meant that the earlier middle class understood the Indian state; they were less ignorant of the processes of democracy that characterise parts of the Anna Hazare movement.

“The opening of the Indian economy in the ’80s and early ’90s dramatically changed this. A 2005-06 study found that of India’s current middle-class, 56-62 per cent is privately employed. This is significant. It indicates the growing ability of Indians to imagine social mobility in private ways, outside of the state….

“The new corporate middle class has little patience with the politics of dignity and identity that are — for better or worse — central to Indian politics. For them, the state is about providing services for which they pay with their tax money. Representation and social justice have little meaning. Consequently, they have contempt for electoral politics….”

Read the full article: The blind spots of India Shining

Photograph: Nursing students take part in a peace march in support of Anna Hazare in Bidar in north Karnataka, on Tuesday (Karnataka Photo News)

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9 Responses to “Is only ‘urban middle-class’ in love with Anna?”

  1. Nastika Says:

    Assuming that there are 3 ‘class’ – upper, middle & lower, the upper can pay 10 times bribe amount and still won’t feel the pinch. The lower is worried about their next meal and have no money to pay the bribe. Its the middle class, who are afflicted financially by corruption.


  2. Kitapati Says:

    What is this angst about the middle class from these brown sahibs and the left. The only thinking people left in india are the middle class. That the middle class is ill informed about democracy is an ill founded claim with no factual basis. According to the brown sahibs and jholawallahs only the so called left liberals have a right to protest and talk of revolution. As native informants it is their job to demonize the indian educated working middle class. A completely bogus article.

  3. Madhukar G appaji Says:

    Village level land reforms is most crucial to rural masses,very thing revolves around this crucial promise made at the time of independence,they are in the first level of maslows needs theory.
    “Urban middle-class” candle-lighting “people like us” (PLUs) have crossed the third level and are in a phase of Self actualisation presently basking in isolation at Techi Ghettos driven by twitter, FB.All inspired by Egypt revolt models. Read, Anna the sacrificial goat ,created by the Radia Kind.
    – Raja Madhukar G Appaji.

  4. sanjeeva Says:

    Rural people are equally affected by and angry over corruption, bribe, neglect, mismanagement, political thamasha, official apathy and continuous failure of our system. Unfortunately, they are not organized and they dont have a platform, forum and a right person to lead them. It is wrong to portray that only the urban middle class is supporting Anna Hazare because only they are the affected ones.

  5. sumakani Says:

    I agree with the article 100%. Yes this is true

  6. M Says:

    The poor either urban or rural don’t care a damn about what the middle class thinks. Reason: middle class has been as cruel to them as the upper class.

    Both my parent were doctors in hospitals attached to Bangalore Medical College and we knew that atleast 50% of the doctors were THOROUGHLY corrupt. One such doctor who was later dismissed after being indicted by Lokayuktha was the daughter-in-law (Prof H.R.Padmini of Minto Hospital) of Janapeeta Awardee (PuTheNa); her husband was a professor in IIM-B’lore. Of the remaining 50% non-corrupt, 30% were inefficient. So, in the past only 20% of govt. welfare trickled down to ‘poor’. And consequently poor don’t don care about the middle class things by ~80%. That the simple math.

    Before thinking about commenting on opinion, count how many of your parents/uncles/relatives/family friends were in govt. service. As said in the article, till the decade ago, govt was the largest employer in the country. So, most of our predecessors/ancestors were atleast partly responsible for the mess.

  7. twistleton Says:

    The truth is, as usual, somewhere in between.

  8. Anonymous Guy Says:


    There is no truth when we try to generalize on these matters.

  9. kukkumol Says:

    This is victory for truth. Calling it as victory for Sri Anna Hazare will be under rating the whole issue. Now at least our new generation will understand the power of truth…SATYAGRAH… and will not think the movement of Gandhi as story. Anna has demonstrated the power of TRUTH….POWER OF SATYAGRAH. Hence neither the Govt. has lost nor ANNA has won. It’s the victory of TRUTH and all are welcomed to join this new changing situation for a better future for the country as a whole. There is also message for separatists…. be it JK or northeast or any other part of the nation. If the issue is right…they will be listened by all and will be supported by all so they should take SATYAGRAH in place of violence. May be in fasting also few will die…but they still are dyeing in the path of violence.

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