Why India's middle class hates politicians

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by ani82v, Aug 27, 2012.

  1. ani82v

    ani82v Senior Member Senior Member

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    BBC News - Viewpoint: Why India's middle class hates politicians

    The disgust that India's middle class feels for the country's politics and politicians today is in sharp contrast to the reverence enjoyed by the early leaders of the modern republic.

    It was not just Mahatma Gandhi - the "father of the nation" who eschewed a political role when independence was achieved in 1947 - who was admired.

    A host of others, like prime ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Lal Bahadur Shastri and cabinet members Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Govind Ballabh Pant and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad were hero worshipped even as they transitioned from being freedom fighters to politicians who ran the country for two decades.

    Even opposition leaders, like the architect of the constitution BR Ambedkar and others, had many followers and were widely respected for their integrity.

    Since the late 1960s, however, there has been a steady erosion of the image of politicians in the eyes of the middle class.
    Power of populism

    This downward trend has continued despite periods when some like Indira and Rajiv Gandhi, VP Singh and Atal Behari Vajpayee enjoyed great popularity.

    One reason for the middle class disenchantment with politics can be traced back more than four decades, when former prime minister Indira Gandhi discovered the power of populism.

    With a series of populist moves like raising taxes and nationalising banks and industries, she aimed at identifying with the growing number of poor voters, reversing decades of Congress's middle path strategy that embraced all sections of society.
    Indian political leaders There has been a steady erosion of the image of politicians

    Professor Atul Kohli of Princeton University has written that "numerous poor and illiterate citizens were becoming freshly available for political mobilisation… Indira Gandhi sought to rebuild Congress's electoral fortunes" by shifting left.

    It was a shrewd gamble that paid off electorally, but in the process, it also demonstrated the complete dispensability in politics of the much smaller middle class.

    For the next quarter century, as India remained an economic laggard and corruption in government grew steadily, the middle class became resigned to its marginalisation in politics and became apathetic to it.

    Those who could, voted with their feet and emigrated; those who remained, developed a simmering resentment and barely bothered to vote in elections.

    Although Mrs Gandhi subsequently won back the middle class approval on occasion, most notably after the 1971 war with Pakistan that liberated Bangladesh, its relationship with politics has never been the same again.
    Economic reforms

    The Congress party was not alone in alienating the middle class from politics.

    When its government headed by Rajiv Gandhi was defeated in 1989 following defence corruption scandals, an issue that galvanised the middle class, it was replaced by the Janata Dal party and its initially popular prime minister VP Singh.

    But in less than a year, Mr Singh saw his middle class appeal disappear when, buffeted by turbulent coalition allies, he decided to trump them by releasing a long-bottled political genie - enhancing the number of government jobs reserved for backward castes.

    This populist move unleashed a decade of caste-dominated politics resented by the middle class.
    People outside a shopping mall in India India has a huge middle class

    Then, from 1991, economic reforms gradually improved India's growth.

    Sustained by the successive governments of every hue for a decade and a half, those reforms boosted middle class prospects most of all.

    Salaries soared; previously hard-to-get luxuries like homes, vehicles and consumer goods became affordable for the now upwardly mobile middle class; new sectors like software and telecom provided world-class career options, even reversing the "brain drain" of earlier emigrants.

    But none of this altered the by-now entrenched apathy of the middle class towards politics.
    'India-shining'

    Even the Bharatiya Janata Party, the only major party that traces its roots to middle class support, did not succeed in engaging them for long.

    In government for six years from 1998, the BJP even tailored its 2004 re-election campaign to the increasing size and aspirations of the middle class.

    But to no avail - the ill-conceived India Shining campaign not only did not sit well with the more numerous voters who were not yet middle class, it did not even succeed in enthusing those that were.

    Since then, middle class apathy has only been stirred by the ever more egregious instances of corruption and crony capitalism on display in Delhi.

    The anti-corruption campaign, led by the septuagenarian activist Anna Hazare, unusually drew large middle class crowds last year.

    But it collapsed this year, its supporters dispirited by the lack of progress in getting parliament to enact an independent ombudsman.

    That, combined with the lack of transparency in political funding and the blatant nepotism within most parties, has sealed middle class cynicism towards politicians.
    Baba Ramdev addresses thousands of supporters during fight against corruption Yoga guru Baba Ramdev has also tapped into the middle class hatred of corruption among politicians

    Yet, the middle class is much larger and more influential than ever before.

    Its sharply increased spending powers influence the media to pay disproportionate attention to its preferences and concerns, and it is arguably a potent political swing vote.

    Which is why it is surprising that only a few regional politicians have figured out how to carry the middle class without alienating other vote banks. A sea change awaits Indian politics when one of the larger parties manages to do this nationally.

    Baijayant Jay Panda is a member of parliament of India's Biju Janata Dal party
     
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  3. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Because they are in love with themselves, their seat in the various bodies of governance and the propensity to make hay while the sun shines.

    And all in the name of the Am Admi.
     
  4. lcatejas

    lcatejas Regular Member

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    Middle class are the main tax payers....they don't want to see there hard earning money to go for parks.. and scams....
     
  5. ani82v

    ani82v Senior Member Senior Member

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    Urban Middle class has become sizeable chunk of voters now and we are going to see some more Anna Hazare like movements where they will exert their influence.
    How much would it translate to political power is yet to be seen.
     
  6. ani82v

    ani82v Senior Member Senior Member

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    This link gives % size of Indian Middle Class

    Indian Take: The Size of India's Middle Class

    According to NCAER and McKinsey studies, Middle Class percentage crossed 5% in previous decade and is projected to cross 20% in this decade.

    Where the definition of Middle Class is family earnings between Rs 7,500-85,000. No idea how it is adjusted to inflation.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2012
  7. blank_quest

    blank_quest Senior Member Senior Member

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    it all depends on the will and tactics , If you want to clean politics be in politics , if you want to change the system get into the system.. to counter bad politics we need more and more politics and not less and less of it. This was what Indian Muslim League by taking position in the "constituent assembly" and "Legislative Assembly" did. Liyaqat Ali Khan became Finance minister and stalled every move of congress for demands.
     
  8. ani82v

    ani82v Senior Member Senior Member

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    /\/\ Will and tactics do not stand against the systemic forces. Barring a few exception, it is the economic systems which brings and strengthens the democracy.
    200 years ago, Britishers started demanding more rights and more transparent institutions because there was a sizable middle class due to Industrial revolution, leading to decline of aristocracy. Similar was the case for Netherlands.

    Even our Independence has more to do with systemic forces than with the freedom struggle.
     
  9. Singh

    Singh Phat Cat Administrator

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    I don't like the government nor the politicians.

    And here are a dozen plus reasons on the top of mind

    Power supply is erratic
    Water supply is erratic
    Drinking water is unsafe
    Roads are broken
    Censorship is there
    Strangulating Tax system
    Anti-business
    Colleges are limited
    Govt schools are shitty
    Govt healthcare is non-existent.
    Harassment from Bureaucracy
    Pervasive corruption
    No security
    Court cases drag on for years\
    no social security
     
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  10. Sunder singh

    Sunder singh Regular Member

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    these days every class hate politicians
     
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  11. lcatejas

    lcatejas Regular Member

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    But not people like Ambani's .. who are making money from these pimps....
     
  12. Dovah

    Dovah Untermensch Senior Member

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    +Law and order.
     
  13. Energon

    Energon DFI stars Stars and Ambassadors

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    This is an excellent article and it highlights many important facts starting with Indira Gandhi's role in destroying the the entire system and ethos of governance. Well for starters she defied the concept of democracy itself by attempting a hand at autocracy. She manipulated the impoverished masses through populism and maligned the middle class, entrepreneurs and industry, thereby crushing all prospects of economic growth. What's even sadder is that after taking votes from the masses she violated their freedom (forced sterilization anyone?) and shoved them into even deeper poverty through her ludicrous economic policies. She also set the tone of how governance was to be conducted there on by solidifying nepotism and promoting the formation of the thuggish ruling class and utterly corrupt bureaucrats who enriched themselves by looting the citizens with impunity.
     
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