farmer march4

A friend forwarded a test by on WhatsApp the other day. It was a very interesting test, which plotted an individual’s social and economic leanings. I was very intrigued by it, and I forwarded the same to my various WhatsApp groups requesting people to share their responses.

The results were very fascinating. Most people fell into the same quadrant while the remaining few were borderline or marginally away from that quadrant. The majority were quite libertarian on the social front and close to the centre between left and right on the economic front.

I had forwarded this test to various groups comprising of different age groups. In spite of that there was not much of a variation in the results. I was impressed. So many different people thought alike. Today’s India, or at least urban India appeared to be a liberal and fair society. We were progressing as a nation. And even though there were reports suggesting we had fallen on the democracy index or it felt like right wingism and intolerance had increased in the past few years, that was not really the case.

Then I thought again. Who were these people I had forwarded the test to? They were my friends and relatives with similar family and economic backgrounds, education, travel habits, reading choices and general exposure. It was but natural for all of us to have similar social and economic leanings. Most of us had attended similar schools and colleges and had completed graduation or post graduation. Many of us travelled often in India and abroad. A majority of people enjoyed reading and read books by similar authors and watched the same shows. We all lived in cities and in most cases our parents were educated too. Our parents had chosen to have one or two children and had provided well for us.

Economically, we all belonged to secure backgrounds. Most of us owned more than one house. Every family had more than one car, a two-wheeler. Every adult had a mobile phone plus laptop. We lived in a world of flowing water 24/7 on a tap, continuous electricity and internet, malls and flyovers, airports and escalators, restaurants and lounges. Was this the real India? I was interacting with and talking to only the top 1% of the Indian population!!

According to a research by Credit Suisse, to be counted among the richest 1% of the Indian population in 2016, one required assets of just $32892. Less than 23 lacs!! Even if I choose to deny this figure and double it, it is 50 lacs. So basically, everyone who owns a 2/3 BHK house and has some money in the bank in the top 10 cities of India falls in this category.

My entire life I have associated with only these people. And for everything my world-view is constrained by and limited upto only this 1%. My thoughts and views, ideas and ideologies bear no resemblance to the rest of India in reality.

These figures are not new to me, but I guess I was in denial. Looking at these facts and figures with a fresh pair of eyes shook me. The economic, racial, health, and social disparity was staring me in my face. I could no longer put these facts under the carpet. My way of life is not the reality for 99% of my fellow countrymen! In fact, my circumstances and lifestyle,  are not true for 90% of the world population! And the same applies to almost everybody I know.

Forget being close, what we think and feel is not even in the vicinity of what concerns the majority of the population of this country. Our liberal and fair mindsets make no sense to the people who are fighting every single day for clean water, basic education and sanitation. Most people do not have the luxury or exposure to think, but just follow the most convenient and commonly held belief. They cannot afford to sway from the norms, the teachings, or the most prevalent school of thought on any matter. They do not have the time to be liberal. They do not talk about fairness and justness, because life has shown them nothing is fair or just.

The comfort zone we come from, permits us the liberty to think in the utopian way we do. For how long can I and people like me turn a blind eye to these harsh disparities? Till when are we going to sit in our drawing rooms having these dispassionate discourses? All we do is sit on the armchair with a glass of wine or a cup of coffee and discuss these illusions about society, economy, freedom, individual choice, equality, etc. Were we to be faced with harsh circumstances, how would we react and behave inspite of all our learning and exposure?

Our view of India and the rest of the world seems like just a figment of our imagination when applied on a broader perspective. Honestly speaking, our current world-view is far from real.

Aditi Munot is a Pune based blogger.

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One Comment

  1. (Dr) B.C.Mehta says:

    Yes we belong to the new middle class, the class which was able to take maximum advantage of the post 15th August development policies. This class seems to have aligned with the rising capitalist class.