Chandigarh: “It is incorrect to say that there is only one great middle class in India. This section of the society is diversified in various groups. Given dissimilar historical and socio-cultural settings, they have different perceptions and values,” said Professor Kailash K K at seminar on ‘Middle class discourse, mass politics and the making of global India’ held at Panjab University.
Quoting findings from his comparative study conducted over a few northern and southern states, Kailash maintained that the middle and lower middle class in these parts had different opinions. For example, he held that when it comes to regionalisation, the middle and lower middle class in the south were more loyal towards their region as compared to their counterparts in the north. He added that social conservatism is more profound in the middle class in the north as compared to the south. The middle class in the south, on the other hand, are more conservative in their views towards the minorities while those in the north are more liberal, he said.
Referring to incidents like the Gujarat carnage, use of violence in Kashmir, Professor Neera Chandhoke from Delhi University, said the middle class have maintained a studied silence even when the canons of human rights and natural justice have been violated with impunity.
Dr Ajay Gudavarthi, JNU, argued that democracy preceded the middle class in India, unlike the western countries, which explains their lack of sensitivity in taking up ‘citizens’ politics.
Professor Surinder Jodhka, JNU, talked about the distinction between the old and new middle class in the context of the ideological and cultural shifts while comparing the middle classes in Kolkata to their counterparts in Ludhiana.