Indian middle class now a mythical class?


Express May 06, 2010

NEW DEHLI: A proposed new definition of what constitutes the middle class in a developing country suggests that India has no middle class.

An Indian newspaper, The Times of India (TOI) reported on Thursday that the new definition of middle class in the developing world will include people with an income above $10 day, excluding the top 5 per cent of that country. By this definition, even urban India alone has no middle class; everyone at over $10 a day is in the top 5 per cent of the country.

This is a combination both of the depth of India’s poverty and its inequality, TOI said. The definition suggested by the president of the Center for Global Development Nancy Birdsall, will be in the forthcoming World Bank publication, Equity in a Globalizing World. However, people in developing countries living on even $10 a day still have extremely low social indicators, the economist said.

Fewer than 25 per cent of people in the richest quintile in India complete nine grades of school, another economist Lant Pritchett added.

Statistics on the middle class

According to a Deutsche Bank research from February this year, the middle class in India ranges from 30 million to approximately 300 million people. Even using the most generous estimates of the group’s size, the middle class comprises less than 30 per cent of the population.

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