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Day 41 – Q 3.How do the aspirations of a 21st century Indian middle class differ from its 20th century counterpart? Discuss. What are the drivers of this change? Examine.

3. How do the aspirations of a 21st century Indian middle class differ from its 20th century counterpart? Discuss. What are the drivers of this change? Examine. 

21 वीं सदी के भारतीय मध्यवर्ग की आकांक्षाएँ अपने 20 वीं सदी के समकक्ष से कैसे भिन्न हैं? चर्चा करें। इस परिवर्तन के चालक क्या हैं? जांच करें।


India’s middle class is not a homogenous group. It can include a farmer in rural India, a taxi driver in Mumbai or any middle income family. Many reports define India’s middle class as households with annual disposable incomes between 200,000 and 1 million rupees, which have seen multiple changes since the past century.


  • Since the early 1990s, India has been viewed globally as the next China, poised to emerge as a massive market for just about everything money can buy. The most fabled part of this emergence story has been the country’s middle class, a group raring to lead lives of comfort denied in past decades by a mix of socialist policies and cultural austerity. 
  • In the early 20th century, a few exceptions notwithstanding, the middle class almost always hailed from upper-caste groups; they would have typically received at least a smattering of Western education. 21st Century middle class contains a heterogenous identity in terms of caste, religion, language, etc.
  • Historically, many among middle classes liked to imagine themselves as the mirror image of Victorian middle-class professionals. Whereas, the 21st century has a rise of aping of American lifestyle by middle class.
  • Post 1947, many among the middle class lost their connection with land and became exclusively dependent upon professional income. But what continued to unite the middle class was their predominantly upper-caste status and a shared disdain for manual labour, which is prevalent till present day.
  • Till Independence, the size of the Indian middle class remained relatively small with an additional six million added in the next two decades, with a count of 11.2 million in 1971, according to the government statistics.
  • The 1970s and 1980s saw a move toward a mixed economy, with the private sector adding a significant number of jobs as well. The “colonial” middle class from the days of British rule prior to 1947 was slowly transformed into a “new” middle class, who increasingly began being defined in terms of consumption behavior, with the country moving gradually toward a market-led capitalist economy.
  • During the eight-year period between 2004 and 2012, the middle class doubled in size from 300 million to 600 million. By 2015, the size of the middle class in India was between 300 and 600 million, according to Deutsche Bank Research. 
  • Present day  middle class is generally divided into upper and lower middle classes. The upper middle class has been educated in English. It spoke the language well, read English-language newspapers and used Western cultural reference points. The lower middle class usually did not speak English that well but recognised that it was the only language that matters in the workplace.
  • When it came to politics, however, 20th century counterparts of present day middle class were more liberal and secular with present day middle class tending towards communal outlook as is evident from online trolling prevalent.
  • The Indian middle class continues to play a significant role, not only in their home country, but also in other parts of the world. The rapid growth of the global software industry, where Indians excel and continue to be in demand, is creating a new, modern, mobile middle class.This has been a departure from their 20th century counterparts.
  • The expansion of the middle class in India will not only enhance domestic consumption but also continue to grow the country’s outbound tourism. The number of households in India with disposable incomes of more than US $10,000 has risen twentyfold in twenty-five years which has given them political and economic weight.


A healthy middle class is necessary to have a healthy political democracy. A society made up of rich and poor has no mediating group either politically or economically.

This clearly demonstrates the importance of middle class and changes in their aspirations affecting society on a large scale which is evident from the general elections in 2014.

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