Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Most Neglected Minority of India

The word ‘minority’ is a major word in Indian politics. It’s used as strong ammunition to topple or establish governments. Not alone the politicians, the media also enjoy a special satisfaction to use this word in different forms to establish their responsibility towards the society. So the question is who or what is a minority. In India the most acceptable and popular explanation of minority is the Muslim population. Everyone forgets that the Persis, Buddhists, Jains, Zorastrians, Bahais and even the Christians are more logical candidates to be represented as minority. Well, they are indeed minority in official sense, but whenever you bump across this term in any news channel or newspaper it’s very likely that they are referring to the Muslims.

The very fact that the politicians and the media refer to the large Muslim population as minority is derogatory to the Muslims. The so-called secularism ceases to exist when a so-called secular party claims to be the brethren of the so-called minorities, the Muslims. I deny accepting that Muslims are minority in India. They are ‘major’ as much as any one else in India is in the socio-cultural ethos of Indianness.

Well, so who’s the minority? What does minority mean? The dictionary gives many meanings. But only the Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir know what’s minority, The Hindus in Bangladesh and Pakistan know what’s minority and the educated middle class in India know what is minority. At least the Kashmiri Pandits have some consolation that the media writes vociferously about their plights and different governments at least claim to work for a solution for their plights.

But who writes about the plights of educated middle class? They constitute the majority of the tax-payers. They are the only class who has to keep aside a part of their income to enrich the nation’s fund, which is supposed to be used for betterment activities, which in turn is supposed to benefit them. Well, nothing is free in this world, so they have agreed to live with the fact that they have to pay for the road they use, the civic amenities they use etc etc. They don’t mind. They have never raised a voice against this. They have never asked whether their taxes are utilized properly. Even they have never objected to the fact that only they have to bear the cost of any development in the country whereas the vast majority is exempted on the ground of being economically weaker. They never take it otherwise. They truly believe in the well being of the countrymen.

It’s the middle class who, more than the politicians sympathize with the plights of the millions of financially challenged people and try, whatever possible within their limited capabilities, to do something for them. It’s the middle class who create organizations like CRY, donate handsomely for the victims of earthquakes or drought, help the family of the lady who works in their home and do many other small things voluntarily. They try their best to do something for the society.

The middle class also does one more thing, which perhaps not all in India do. They dream for a better India. Also they want to grow in life. But no one ever thought of their aspirations. No political party ever represented them. Nobody ever asked them about their likes and dislikes. The ‘upper’ class doesn’t have to bother about anything, and the ‘lower’ class has the whole political people to supposedly bother for them. But, stuck in the middle, who do the educated middle class have to bother for them apart from themselves alone? They are the greatest taboo in Indian politics. Anyone trying to do something for them is termed as pro-rich and non-populist. Everyone speaks of uplifting the lower class and stagnating them in the middle-class. Can’t the middle class also have an aspiration to move up?

Of late they were very happy reaping the benefits of the recent economic reforms. They have indeed moved up in the economic ladder. At the same time they have also resulted in enhancing the economy of the people around them. Starting from the people who drive auto-rickshaws to the old lady who sells flowers from door to door in Gurgaon, Bangalore, Noida, Pune, Hyderabad, Bombay and many other places have been benefited by the sudden increase in spending capacity of the middle class. They felt good that they and also the people around them were really moving towards a better life.

But then they find that the majority of the political world is envying them. All the so-called non-populist reforms, which had actually created hopes for them after a very long time, are vindicated. They are indeed feeling helpless. But they can’t say anything or affect any change because they are a minority. Their number of votes will merely do any change to the total electoral poll count. They have to be just mute spectators to what’s happening around him and accept whatever the ‘majority’ (of the political class) thrust upon them.

The only capital of the middle class is their education. This education refrain them from staying in darkness. They know what is good and what is bad. They like good people around them. They want to be governed by good educated, cultured and decent people. They feel satisfied if they see that their hard earned money is spent properly in creating good world-class infrastructure across the country. It’s only they who really understand the importance of good foreign policies. It’s they who appreciate India’s slow and steady race towards becoming a global player. But what if they don’t see all these? Nothing. Yes, they are indeed a minority, a very unconventional and lone minority in the middle of an alienated, ignorant and adversely manipulated crowd.

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