Open Page

Happy in the middle rung

Vector men running. competition human race concept

Vector men running. competition human race concept  

Who said the middle class doesn’t make a good story?

Let’s face it. The middle class is neither here nor there, the people in between, millions like you and me. The inconvenient truth is we don’t make a good story.

Or don’t we? Perhaps a bit of misplaced modesty has stood in the way of us getting our due. We make perfect “people next door” —give or take the occasional squabble over parking or the racket that the children make in the common lobby. Neighbours in tony Malabar Hill in Mumbai and its counterparts around the country don’t meet each other for months and are strangers for all practical purposes. But come down to the less snooty suburbs and things get far more chummy.

In Andheri, my neighbours know me, my daily routine, state of health and state of wealth. If you get chatting, they will even tell you how things stand between me and my in-laws. All this means that the spectre of loneliness, which looms before the world’s big cities, can’t spook us. You are never alone in Andheri, especially Chakala.

The masterminds of big money crimes are millionaires attempting to become billionaires. There is only one role that the middle class play in such financial thuggery — victims. We are scrupulous in paying our taxes. Saying that such morality is by default since most of our dues are deducted at source is mean-spirited. The fact is apart from those occasions when we claim leave travel allowance while not stirring out of home or getting reimbursed for taxi fare when we have actually taken an autorickshaw, our balance sheet is clean. No ill-gotten gains for us — continue deriving happiness from things money can’t buy.

You can pity the poor. And you can call the rich names — crass (“there’s no culture in the kitty party crowd”), heartless (“they torture their maids”) and unpatriotic (“they go on vacation when they ought to be voting”). But nobody has an unkind word for us.

As we speak, the rich are rapidly getting richer and the poor poorer. French economist Thomas Piketty says that as long as the returns on capital are higher than the rate of economic growth, the gap between the classes will only widen. This means that the middle will have an even bigger role in the increasingly fierce social tug of war.

Jairam.menon@gmail.com

A letter from the Editor


Dear reader,

We have been keeping you up-to-date with information on the developments in India and the world that have a bearing on our health and wellbeing, our lives and livelihoods, during these difficult times. To enable wide dissemination of news that is in public interest, we have increased the number of articles that can be read free, and extended free trial periods. However, we have a request for those who can afford to subscribe: please do. As we fight disinformation and misinformation, and keep apace with the happenings, we need to commit greater resources to news gathering operations. We promise to deliver quality journalism that stays away from vested interest and political propaganda.

Support Quality Journalism
Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | May 26, 2020 12:54:21 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/happy-in-the-middle-rung/article31488137.ece

Next Story