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Recent outrage of politicians against any anti corruption campaign was based on the argument that the entire movement was basically ‘middle class’. Just by this one sentence , they have written off the entire movement from the history, and the argument was supported by some enthusiastic media which amused on men and women in jeans and T- Shirt carrying Gandhian caps on their scalp.

The question is – If the movement was middle class, then what? Is middle class not a valuable asset of the nation, or middle is just a group of citizens who don’t believe in basic democratic functions and are just too much self centric, or the middle class is not worth listening to , because they are minority? What was the argument behind the statement?

Origin of middle class in history of civilization can be traced back to industrial revolution. The shifting of focus from agriculture to industry which required lesser labor for better yield when compared to agriculture, was enthusiastically pursued by men and women who were basically educated at some level and knew the basic functions of machine. This was the platform from where the middle originated. These were young men and women who were educated and wanted to pursue a better career as per their abilities, which was not agriculture definitely and other clerical works at governments and monarchies were too small for such large group. Industry supplied them with job of their aspirations, they supplied industry of the skill that it needed. In return, industry flourished and so did this new group, which was now getting more money than most others in agriculture and petty labor. Thanks to high efficiency paradigm of industrial revolution; lesser men for greater yield.

As this process proceeded, this new group of men and women, who now had enough money, went from subsistence to partially luxurious. They started to become the prime consumer of industry products themselves. The wealth of industry was circulating in this small group from production to consumption and then back to production process. As they begun to prosper, natural law of induction came into force and more and more came to industry jobs to seek the gold out of this gold mine. This resulted in epic explosion in numbers added to this group which after certain period of time, became majority in population when nations became fully industrial and was called the Middle Class. In fact the definition of industrialization came to have middle class in it as a majority in population. If a country didn’t have middle class majority, it was not considered fully industrial. Why middle Class? Simple, because it lied between the upper aristocracy and lower labor sections.

The deadly combination of education and resources (money) got accumulated in this group; the middle class. This was the recipe of enlightenment, and the precursor of revolution. Education brought enlightenment of thoughts and freedom from orthodoxy, and resources brought the courage to fight the discrimination from upper class, and natural privileges entertained by them; result was revolution.

It is not just a coincidence that most of the revolution took place in Europe just after the industrial revolution. Many great thinkers like Rousseau, Maximilien Robespierre, Mazzini etc were middle class. Middle class was not ready to compromise their liberty for unreasonable excuses like natural privileges of king and church. There were revolutions all over, starting from French to Russian. Did middle class alone brought revolution? No! But it created the recipe, and mobilized the lower class which was already suppressed badly. The revolution was caused by middle class ideas and lower class oppression.

But middle class itself was not ready to comprise its status post revolution with lower class, as can be quoted from examples that even after French revolution , universal adult suffrage was not allowed. Only with some pre specified property could vote. But this was temporary, and soon all differences were leveled.

Synchronizing the above facts and inferences with India, pre Independence, the middle class freedom fighters who were lawyers , teachers, philosophers, writers etc created a framework of fight against colonial power and lower class like farmers, labors, peasants etc executed the fight from the front in their guidance. Post independence saw the emergence of new middle class, with second five year plan which shifted focus from agriculture to industry to generate employment and tackle national income crisis. So, post independence , Planning commission can be quoted as the father of middle class. Not so soon after emergence of this middle class, India witnessed another movement, The JP movement against the Indira Government, which was the biggest after Independence. It was started by students of Bihar who later asked JP to lead, again middle class. In fact ruling party dismissed the entire movement by saying that it was middle class movement (as they knew exactly). But the fact is, that the ripples of movement shook off the very foundation of Indian politics and ruling party, which can be seen today itself. Recent Arab spring is also a perfect example of middle class rising.


So,when today, politician say that these anti corruption movements are just Middle class, it can not be the argument to write off the movement. But if you know history well, and you know what middle class is, then this link between recent movements and the middle class should be very scary to politicians. The proper defense for them would be if they say that such movements are not middle class. Because saying that these are Middle class movements means a potential revolution is knocking on their doors.

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