Salient features of Indian Society

Previous Year Questions

  1. The life cycle of a joint family depends on economic factors rather than social values. Discuss. (2014)
  2.  “Caste system is assuming new identities and associational forms. Hence, the caste system cannot be eradicated in India.” Comment. (2018)

THE CASTE SYSTEM OR VARNA SYSTEM

Caste can be defined as hereditary endogamous group, having a common name, common traditional occupation, common culture, relatively rigid in matters of mobility, distinctiveness of status and forming a single homogeneous community. However, in the changing situation caste has adapted too many new features like having formal organizations, becoming less rigid and having a link with politics. Thus, we may list from the above the following features of caste system.

1. Hereditary in nature: It implies that caste system is based on heredity. It is based on ascribed values rather than achieved qualities.

2. Segmental division of society: It means Indian social stratification is largely based on caste. There are various castes having a well-developed life style of their own. The membership of a caste is determined by birth. Thus, caste is hereditary in nature.

3. Hierarchy: It indicates various castes according to their purity and impurity of occupations are ranked from higher to lower positions. It is like a ladder where pure caste is ranked on the top and impure is ranked at the bottom. For example, the occupation of Brahmin is that of performing rituals and teaching. It is considered to be the purest occupation; hence they are placed at the top of the hierarchy. On the other hand, sweeper, whose occupation is cleaning and scavenging, is placed at the bottom the bottom of the hierarchy because of impure occupation.

4. Restrictions on food, drink and smoking: Usually different castes do not exchange food and drink, and do not share smoking of hukka among them. For instance, Brahmins do not take food from any other caste. It is a complicated process. For example, in Uttar Pradesh, among Kanyakubj Brahmins, there are many sub-divisions. Each sub-division does not take food from. There are two types of food:

“pucca” (food prepared in ghee like puri, kachodi and pulao) and “kuchcha” (food prepared in water like rice, pulses and vegetable curries). Some castes exchange only pucca food among themselves. Invariably, the high caste does not take anything from the low caste. The same principle is applied to smoking.

5. Endogamy: It indicates members of the caste have to marry within their own caste only. Inter-castes marriages are prohibited. However, among educated people, particularly in the urban areas, inter-castes marriages are gradually increasing.

6. Purity and pollution: It is one of the important features of the caste system. Purity and pollution are judged in terms of deeds, occupation, language, dress patterns, as well as food habits. For example, liquor consumption, consuming nonvegetarian food, eating left-over food of the high castes, working in occupations like leather craft, lifting dead animals, sweeping and carrying garbage etc. are supposed to be impure. However, in recent times some high caste people are today doing all the above jobs, like working in a shoe-shop, shoe-factory, cutting hair in a beauty parlour etc.

7. Occupational association: Each caste has a specific occupation and cannot change the occupation. For instance, Brahmins do priesthood and teaching, Kayasthas maintain revenue records and writing. Baniyas are engaged in business and Chamars are engaged in leatherwork, etc. With new job opportunities available due to industrialization and urbanization some people have shifted from their traditional occupation. However, in rural areas traditional occupations are still followed. Such cases are also found in urban areas like a barber has a haircutting saloon where he cuts hair in the morning and evening simultaneously works as peon in some office.

8. Social and religious disabilities and privileges: The lower caste is debarred from doing many things like they are not permitted to enter the temple, do not use literally language and cannot use gold ornaments or umbrella etc. However, thing have changed considerably, these restrictions are hardly found today.

9. Distinction in custom, dress and speech: Each caste has distinct style of life, i.e. having its customs, dress patterns and speech. The high caste uses pure language (sometimes use literally words), whereas, the low caste uses colloquial language.

10. Conflict resolving mechanisms: The caste’s having their own conflict resolving mechanisms such as Caste Panchayats at the village and inter-village levels.

CHANGES IN THE CASTE SYSTEM

Changes in the caste system have been found in the last two centuries in general and in past 50 years in particular. Several processes like sanskritisation, westernization, modernization, dominant caste, industrialization, urbanization and democratic decentrialisation have made consequent changes in the caste system. They are as follows:

1. Sanskritisation: It is a process by which any low caste could adapt to the behaviour pattern, style of life, and culture of high caste and claim membership in that high caste. But they have to leave their unclean occupation and other impure habits like meat eating and taking liquor, etc. The untouchables were not allowed to sanskritize their status. Thus, only middle castes could sanskritize themselves. For sanskritization, a caste must have three conditions: (a) it should have a touchable status, (b) it should have better economic condition, (c) it should make a claim to membership into a high caste, by propagating some story or myth. It is a group process and not an individual process. It is a lengthy process and not an overnight process. It does not lead to any structural change, only leads to positional change. It means a particular low caste changes its position into a high caste in a particular area whereas the caste structure does not change. Through this process a few lower castes in different parts of country have changed their status into higher castes.

2. Westernisation: It indicates adapting to western style of living, language, dress pattern, and behavioural pattern. In India largely the British influence has been found. The features of westernization are: (a) rational outlook (scientific and goal-oriented outlook), (b) interest in material progress, (c) reliance on modern communication process and mass media, (d) English medium education, (e) high social mobility, etc. The higher castes were first to westernization themselves. Later on, the lower castes also adapted to this process. It has largely influenced the rigidity of caste system and changed it into a flexible system, particularly in the urban areas.

3. Modernisation: It is a process which primarily relies on scientific outlook; rational attitudes, high social mobility, mass mobilization, empathy, belief in liberty, equality and fraternity; high level of motivation to do everything with perfection; specialization and super-specialisation in work; active participation; and dealing with complex organizations. It also requires changes in institutional, structural, attitudinal, and organizational aspects at then social, cultural and personal level. This has affected greatly the caste system in the sense that it has become more flexible. In urban areas castes are gradually becoming classes. In India we find an emerging middle class with a rational outlook and goal orientation. Modernisation is a broader concept than westernization. Any culture can modernise itself without adapting to western values. In our case we can modernize ourselves not by abandoning the tradition totally but by integrating the rational aspects of the tradition and suitable aspects of modernity. Our caste system has adapted suitably to the modern practices, i.e. educating people, forming formal organizations and making people conscious about their existence.

4. Dominant Caste: In the 20th century, the phenomena of dominant caste have emerged. It means some caste becomes economically and politically dominant virtually rules over other castes in the region. A caste can become dominant by having the features like: (a) large land holding in the area (good economic position), (b) politically dominant (becoming a vote bank), (c) having a large population, (d) high ritual status, (e) English medium education, (f) having a tradition in agriculture (not tillers but landlords), and (g) having a tradition of violence (for dominance muscle power is essential). However today it is not limited to the high caste only but has been found among the lower castes also.

5. Backward Classes Movement: The non-Brahmin castes today are getting themselves more and more organised to challenge the supremacy of the Brahmins and to assert their rights. This movement against the Brahmin supremacy by the lower castes came to be known as Backward Classes Movement. In the beginning, the main aim of this movement was to limit the Brahmin monopoly in the two fields such as education and appointment to government posts.

The Backward Classes Movement has become a vital political force today. Its influence has

changed the political scenario of the country. This movement has made the Brahmins politically weak and insignificant especially in Kerala and Tamilnadu. This movement has also brought pressure on different political parties to create special opportunities for the lowest caste people enabling ten to come up to the level of other higher castes. Due to this pressure, Backward Classes Commissions were established at Central and State levels which recommended “reservation” for backward castes/classes.

6. Competitive Role of Castes: Mutual interdependence of castes which existed for centuries and was reinforced by the institutional system of “jajmani”, is not found today. As M.N. Srinivas points out, the “vertical solidarity” of castes has been replaced by “horizontal solidarity”. “Live and let live” policy which was once associated with the caste makes no sense today. On the contrary, each caste looks at the other with suspicion, contempt, and jealousy and finds in it a challenger, a competitor. Excessive caste-mindedness and caste-patriotism have added to this competition. The economic base of a caste and its hold over the political power virtually determine the intensity of this competitiveness. This competitive spirit further strengthens caste-mindedness.

7. New attempts to strengthen caste-loyalty, caste-identity, caste-patriotism and caste-mindedness: Today caste organisations are increasing and are making every attempt to obtain the loyalty of their members and to strengthen their caste-identity and solidarity. Some such attempts can be cited here.

 (i) Though Caste Panchayats are dwindling, caste organisations are on the increase. Some of these organisations have their own written constitutions and managing committees through which they try to preserve some of the caste rules and practices.

(ii) Caste organisations run their own papers, bulletins, periodicals, monthlies etc., through which they regularly feed information to the members regarding |the activities of caste organizations and achievements of caste-members.

(iii) Attempts are also made to increase caste integration through the establishment of caste-based trusts and trust-units. These trusts arrange annual gatherings, get-togethers, annual dinners, occasional festival celebrations, they provide shelter to the needy members of the caste. They offer scholarships to the poor students of the caste. Some of them run schools, colleges, hostels, maternity-homes for caste members and so on.

(iv) The occupational castes are making determined efforts to improve the economic conditions of caste members by establishing cooperative credit and industrial societies.

(v) Caste organisations collect regular subscription from the members, arrange annual conferences, discuss matters and issues affecting caste interests and caste solidarity and organise agitations and protest meetings against the governmental policies if they were to damage caste interests. In states like Bihar, some upper and lower castes have formed their own ‘senas’ (militant groups) to protect their interests.

8. Industrialisation and urbanization: Both these processes have affected the caste system. With the growth of industrial towns and cities, migration to these areas has gone up. In these areas following strict caste rules are not possible. There are public places like parks, restaurants, canteens, hotels, offices and communication systems like buses and trains etc. where inter-dinning and sharing places are essential. Hence, a flexible approach has been adapted.

9. Democratic decentralization: Through the introduction of Panchayati Raj, local self-governments have been created in the villages. In the Panchayat reservation has been made for the lower castes. This has given an opportunity for the lower castes to empower themselves.

10. Caste and politics: It is not a new phenomenon since politics is a part of life always. During earlier days, Brahmanical supremacy was an example of politics. Today it is said that castes have a close link with politics because castes have become vote banks, castes have become politically aware, there have been identification of castes with political parties and every caste has its own association. In fact, the link between caste and politics has led to an empowerment among the lower castes. These castes never had any opportunities to express themselves. Today they ventilate their feelings through elections and power lobby. Dalit politics is one such example, where the Dalits are trying to assert their identities and have become successful in capturing power in various States. However, the negative aspects of this link have been found in functionalism, i.e. the high castes always want to maintain their status quo. They are not able to accept the changing dominant position of the lower castes. This has led to frequent conflicts between high castes and low castes in several regions of the country. However, this is only a transitional phase. Better education, mass awareness campaign and good employment opportunities would ensure smooth passage towards a progressive society.

11. Caste and economy: Traditionally, it was said that caste system has been functional for the society particularly in the economic sense. It is nothing but the jajmani system. It is a system of traditional occupation for the lower castes particularly the service caste. The service caste is known as Kamin and they used to provide service to the higher castes known as Jajmans. The relationship between Jajamans and Kamins used to be a permanent and hereditary i.e. after the death of the Jajamn, his son used to be a Jajman and the same principal applied to the Kamins. Thus, it was a functional relationship in village India. However, due to introduction of market economy and land reforms the Jajamani system gradually is being eroded.

ROLE OF CASTE IN INDIAN POLITICS

 Caste in contemporary Indian politics plays a very important role behind the facade of parliamentary democracy. Caste is so tacitly and so completely accepted by all, including those who are most vocal in condemning it that it is everywhere the unit of social action. The political behaviour of people is influenced by caste considerations as is quite evident at the time of distribution of election tickets and composition of ministries. In India caste is an important factor to influence the voting behaviour of the voters. While selecting a candidate for a particular constituency, it is calculated whether he or she would be able to get the support of his or her caste or not. Caste plays an influential role during the preparation of the list of a party’s office-bearers.

 While the form of our politics is secular, the style is essentially casteist. In a wide range of social and economic activity – in admission to schools and colleges, in student politics, in employment opportunities, in the distribution of benefits based on discretionary power in the three tier Panchayati Raj, and even in bureaucratic decisions caste considerations play more than a marginal role. No account of voting behaviour, the legislative proceedings or even ministerial appointments would be complete unless considerable attention is given to this factor.

Integrative and Disintegrative Role of Caste:

According to Rajni Kothari: “Caste provides to politics on the one hand an ongoing structure of divisions and accommodations and on the other hand a cohesive element which absorbs tensions and frustrations through its intimate particularistic channels”. Caste plays both an integrative and disintegrative role in politics. It is integrative because the castes have given up their localised character. “They are in a sense vehicle for transcending the technical political illiteracy, which would restrict political participation”. There is clear-cut correlation between castes and elections which leads to democratisation of the masses. One important consequence of caste mobility, and politically, perhaps most significant, has been the expansion of the area of political mobilisation, consensus building and interest articulation and aggregation.

The formation of various Backward Castes Commissions for the reservation of seats in government services are nothing but the reflection of politicisation of caste affiliations. But when caste plays a disintegrative role it becomes a serious threat to national integration. Whenever the interests of two dominant caste groups clash in the modern democratic set-up violent incidents take place. The low caste groups now resent and retaliate whenever they are subjected to feudal atrocities. The result is bloody caste war. Caste conflicts hamper the cohesion and peace of society. Caste cultivates and invigorates the evil of caste patriotism by putting group loyalty above merit and competence and narrow selfishness over public wellbeing jeopardising the effectiveness of government’s vital functions. In its leads to the inhuman practice of untouchability. In India “the movement for change is not a struggle to end caste; it is to use caste as an instrument of social change. Caste is not disappearing, nor is ‘casteism’ – the political use of caste – for what is emerging in India is a social and political system which institutionalises and transforms most perverted form caste discrimination but does not abolish caste.”

INDIAN FAMILY

The Indian family has been a dominant institution in the life of the individual and in the life of the community. For the Hindu family, extended family and kinship ties are of utmost importance. In India, families adhere to a patriarchal ideology, follow the patrilineal rule of descent, are patrilocal, have familialistic value orientations, and endorse traditional gender role preferences. The Indian family is considered strong, stable, close, resilient, and enduring. Historically, the traditional, ideal and desired family in India is the joint family. A joint family includes kinsmen, and generally includes three to four living generations, including uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, and grandparents living together in the same household. It is a group composed of a number of family units living in separate rooms of the same house. These members eat the food cooked at one hearth, share a common income, common property, are related to one another through kinship ties, and worship the same idols.

CHANGES IN INDIAN FAMILY

Today, the Indian family is subjected to the effects of changes that have been taking place in the economic, political, social and cultural spheres of the society. In the economic sphere, the patterns of production, distribution and consumption have changed greatly. The process of industrialisation and the consequent urbanisation and commercialisation have had drastic impacts on the family. Migration to urban areas, growth of slums, change from caste oriented and hereditary occupations to new patterns of employment offered by a technological revolution, the cut-throat competition for economic survival and many other economic changes have left their impact on the family.

Briefly speaking, these changes in the socio-economic-political-cultural milieu of our society have led to changes in the structures, functions, roles, relationships and values of the family. In the context of the changes in the economic system more and more members of the family are moving away from the larger family circle and living as individuals or members of a nuclear unit in urban areas. The patterns or loyalties, obligations and expectations have changed. The cases of the child and the aged in particular have become a problem for many due to structural changes in the family.

Disappearing Joint Family System: Since time immemorial the joint family has been one of the salient features of the Indian society. But the twentieth century brought enormous changes in the family system. Changes in the traditional family system have been so enormous that it is steadily on the wane from the urban scene. Some have split into several nuclear families, while others have taken the form of extended or stem families. Extended family is in fact a transitory phase between joint and nuclear family system. With further industrial development, rural to urban migration, nuclearisation of families and rise of divorce rate and the proportion of single member household is likely to increase steadily on the line of industrial West. The emergence of financially independent, career-oriented men and women, who are confident of taking their own decisions and crave to have a sense of individual achievement, has greatly contributed to the disintegration of joint family. Disintegration of joint family has led to closer bonds between spouses, but the reverse is also true in certain cases. For many, nuclear family is a safer matrimonial home to a woman.

Changes in Authority Structure: Once the authority within the family was primarily in the hands of family elders. The general attitude of members of the family towards the traditional patriarch was mostly one of respect. Loyalty, submissiveness, respect and deference over the household were bestowed on him. These attributes also encompassed other relationships in the family, such as children to their parents, a wife to her husband, and younger brothers to their older brothers. The age-grade hierarchy was quite strong. Now the people of younger generation, particularly those with modern tertiary education, do not seem to show the same reverence which their fathers had for their parents or elders. Contrary to the old practice they are beginning to assert their wishes in mate selection. Parental decisions are no more supreme. Long distance migration of men for employment is also an important reason for the emergence of such households. The phenomenon of female-headed household assumes significance in the Indian society because in the past when the joint family system was so preponderant that the female-headed household was quite an uncommon phenomenon.

Changes in Marital Practices: The traditional system of values of the Indian society, especially that of Hindus, has been such that it stood for the practice of early as well as universal marriage for females. Child marriage or pre-puberty marriage all through has been an archetypal institution of India. The law provides certain positive initiatives for the intervention of courts to prevent child marriages through stay orders. An increase in the advocacy of human rights, whether as women’s rights or as children’s rights, has caused the traditions of child marriage to decrease greatly as it was considered unfair and dangerous for the children. Today, child marriage is usually practised in countries where cultural practices and traditions of child marriage still have a strong influence. In the face of rising dowry practices across the country consanguineous marriages have appreciably declined in South India in recent years. However, such marriages have remained tabooed among the vast majority of Hindus of North India. The Indian society has been a highly endogamous. Marriage within the same sub caste has been followed very strictly. The scheduled tribes are also endogamous, but most of the tribal communities practice clan exogamy. Polygamy, more particularly polygyny, has been one of salient features of Indian family. It has been more popular among Muslims than Hindus.

Dissolution of Marriage: The dissolution of marriage has been quite uncommon and rare in India for a long time. In case of any crisis or threat to stability of marriage, caste, community, kinsmen, tended to have played a dominant say. People had both respect for and fear of social values and public opinion. Authority of community, though implicit, has been supreme. Hindu marriage is taken as a life-long union for the couple, as it is a sacrament, rather than a contract between the couple to live in a social union so long as it is cordially feasible. Even in the event of frequent mental and physical torture, most Indian women persist in marriage, since remarriage of divorced or separated women is quite difficult.

There has been a significant change in the views and attitudes towards sanctity of marriage in the recent past, especially in cities. The marriage is no longer sanctified as it was believed in the past, and is viewed only as a bonding and nurturing life-long relationship and friendship. Marriage counsellors, formerly frowned upon, have today assumed a lot of importance in guiding couples through stormy seas and averting the imminent pain of divorce.

The Indian family is faced with a new kind of social and psychological constraints. The women, however, tend to be more concerned about their marriage than men and in case of a problem they are expected to go for counselling. They are expected to take the lead to resolve conflicts and when they give up the effort, the marriage is generally over. In today’s shifting values and changing times, there is less reliance on marriage as a definer of sex and living arrangements throughout life.

Today in cities there is disenchantment with the system of arranged marriages. There is a greater incidence of extra-marital relationships, including open gay and lesbian relationships, a delay in the age at marriage, higher rates of marital disruption and more egalitarian gender role attitudes among men and women. It is reported that in big metropolises a new system of ‘live-in-arrangements’ between pairs, particularly in upper stratum of society, is steadily emerging as a new kind of family life. Anyway, a relatively higher divorce rate in cities, inter alia, connote that marriage is an institution in trouble, or else expectations are so high that people are no longer willing to put up with the kinds of dissatisfactions and empty shell marriages that the previous generations tolerated. High rate of remarriages clearly means that people are sacrificing their marriages because of unsatisfactory relationships.

Domestic Tension and Violence: Violence within family settings is primarily a male activity. The prime targets are women and children. The women have been victims of humiliation and torture for as long as we have written records of the Indian society. Despite several legislative measures adopted in favour of women during the last 150 years, continuing spread of modern education and women’s gradual economic independence, countless women have continued to be victims of discrimination and violence in the country. There is another side of the story of domestic violence as well which has remained uncovered, particularly by feminist writers. It is roughly estimated that every year more than 58000 educated women are making the life of their husbands’ hell by misusing anti-dowry law and domestic violence act and under these laws legal terrorism is continuing openly to extort money from the husbands and their families.

Problems of Children: Evidence suggests that they are quite vulnerable and their exposure to violations of their protection rights remains widespread and multiple in nature. The manifestations of these violations are very varied, ranging from child labour and child trafficking to commercial sexual exploitation and many other forms of violence and abuse Although poverty is often cited as the cause underlying child labour, other factors such as discrimination, social exclusion, as well as the lack of quality education or existing parents’ attitudes and perceptions about child labour and the role and value of education need also to be considered. The lack of available services as well as the gaps persisting in law enforcement and in rehabilitation schemes also constitute a major cause of concern.

Children are also subjected to gender-based discrimination. Discrimination against women in fact starts the day she is born. Sometimes it also starts when she is in her mother’s womb as a foetus. The practice of female foeticide, despite being illegal, is vigorously practised in urban India. The girl child’s right to survival, health care and nutrition, education, social opportunities and protection has to be recognised and made a social and economic priority. Despite considerable decline in fertility or lesser burden of children on the family, there is no improvement in the quality of care of children especially in rural areas. There hardly exists any pre-school or community centre in villages. There also does not exist even a basic facility of playground for children. The older children have to mind the younger children at home and sometimes they are also expected to lend helping hands to their parents in the household chores as and when required. The poor children learn the expected roles of life of their own with the passage of time, while the well-off peasantry send their children to private schools in towns and cities for better schooling.

NEW INDIAN MIDDLE CLASS

For the first time in human history, more than half of the world is middle class. One of the most distinguishing features of contemporary India is the emergence and rise of new middle class (henceforth NMC). Today, the NMC is the fastest growing segment of the Indian population. Big Indian middle class is anywhere between 300 to 400 million and growing. By all reasonable estimates, Indian middle class is bigger than the entire population of many nations. The middle class especially the new middle class which is categorized on the basis of income, social status, education level, occupation, and

consumerism has significantly emerged as a powerful, influential and dominant class in urban India and largely determines India’s economy, polity, culture, education and social relationships.

The middle class has an occupational interest but bound together by a typical style of living and behaviour pattern and stand for democratic values which they express in their social and political conduct. Moreover, the NMCs are classified into different groups or categories. They are divided into four groups using occupation:

1. Salaried persons, including administrative employee, postal and other institutional and government officials;

2. Independent professions like medical practitioners, lawyers, armed forces officers, teachers, artists, actors, journalists and other consultants;

3. The non – salaried such as those involved in entrepreneurial or business activities like a private business, directors in business firms;

4. Retired persons and widows from wealthy families.

Income, social status, consumerism and lifestyle are few other key criteria used to categories the NMCs in India.

The NMC Characteristics:

The NMCs are recognized on the basis of their earning, majorly derived from the higher and middle castes. In contemporary globalization era, dual-earning couples have increased among the NMC. Besides, increasing percentage of women and youth representation in private and IT-related sector is observed, who are increasingly global in their lifestyle and overall outlook. It is not surprising then that the NMCs are evolving themselves in modernity, socio-economic developments, western/modern culture with a greater emphasis on education, consumerism and new global work and business partnerships.

Here are a few key characteristics of the NMCs:

1. Proficient in English

Today, India is perhaps the second most significant English-speaking country after the USA. English is avidly embraced by the newly emerging middle classes. English is considered a sure path for upward mobility and success. The NMC, mainly, the IT and related sector professionals, are increasingly seen to aspire international job opportunities and immigration to the developed countries and have developed a global worldview while

embracing technological advancement and advanced language skills and expertise.

2. Increasingly Consumerists Lifestyle and Identity

The NMC is increasingly identified especially by marketing experts as a ―Consuming Class.

By market size, the largest new middle-class markets are in the main cities, with Delhi in the first place, followed by Mumbai, Ahmadabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, and Pune. There are also other attractive markets that are on the second rung and whose middle class spends between Rs.5,000 crores and Rs.10,000 crores a year.

The NMCs are perhaps the most significant consumers of high-end goods such as cars, air conditioners, designer clothes, computers, mobiles, gadgets and much more. Today consumption has become their lifestyle and identity.

3. Technology Savvy: ‘Knowledge Class’

The NMCs are also called as ‘knowledge class‘ because of their specialized, advanced education and technological expertise and much more. Their dependence on technological gadgets like mobile phones, internet, laptops, iPod, tablets, etc. is exceptional and proves how this class is conversant, learned and exposed to new and modern technology.

The Indian IT industry has become the new great white hope of the Indian middle class. IT

entrepreneurs and professionals are considered new middle-class heroes. Das even proposes that India can leapfrog the industrial age while embracing information technology that can drive India ‘s economic growth and transform the country.

4.  Aspirational and Career Oriented

The NMCs perspective about overall life is increasingly money centric. Distinguishing feature of the middle class is its obsession with work and money. This is not to say

that the poor and wealthy are uninterested in either; many of the poor are gainfully employed and desperately concerned with making ends meet, and many of the wealthy have earned their riches and work hard at protecting their investments. But the middle class is fundamentally defined by its pursuit of careers, the preparation of its children to participate in the labour market, and the close connection between its material well-being and its values.

The NMCs, their upbringing, and enculturation have tuned them to the single-minded pursuit of material success and career growth for the acquisition of comfortable lifestyle, more wealth and prestige.

5. More Globalized than Localized

The NMC undoubtedly favour economic liberalization and globalization and considers it to develop the economy and individual prosperity. The NMCs maintain professional lifestyle, are fast-paced, demand a modern and western standard of living and have a keen global perspective. Most of the NMCs are exposed to global culture, modern worldviews,

international education, consumer products, and market economy, thus are increasingly globalized. Besides, they are well connected with the world through media, electronics and technology. Incidentally, the NMCs are emerging as a transnational and a global phenomenon. Their immigration and aspiration to follow western and modern culture, fashion, lifestyle are remarkable. However, in such cultural and socio-economic globalization, segments of the NMC seem to balance between global and local realities while keeping tightrope balance between new and old, modern and traditional.

6. NMC Culture and Society

The NMC culture is an amalgamation and melting pot of cultures, mingling global and local cultural and political influences. Though the modern culture is evolving, below the surface it is flawed by caste, Indian traditions and culture especially in marriages, family relationships, work ethics, politics, and mainly government and public services. The NMCs social life is primarily determined by occupation and profession, economic status and lifestyle. However, urbanization, globalization and Western influences are fostering individualism, inter-caste marriages, live-in relationships, and much more. This has led to noticeable shifts in thinking patterns, family and spouse relationships, lifestyle and cultural norms. Cities much like the rest of India maintains a tight-rope balance between modernity and age-old Indian customs and traditions. However, urban spaces are gradually losing its old culture and tradition bit by bit.

Moreover, although the NMCs are economically self-sufficient and enjoy a good life with relatively stable income, health facilities, luxuries and so forth, they have deeper personal, family and work-related needs that usually go unnoticed. Stress levels are high in urban life, loneliness, competitiveness, relationship crisis, and failures, spiritual and emotional struggles, health issues, frustrations are some of the areas where the NMCs find themselves in need of love, support and care. The increasing rates in divorce and suicide, family breakdown, youth-related issues, old age issues, child care, high cost of living and medical and work-related stress are some of the crucial issues that majority of the NMCs face.

7. NMCs Worldviews

The NMCs worldviews are different from other classes and are changing rapidly due to various factors. Urbanization brings cultural change in the ways of thinking, lifestyle, and the point of view. The NMC has changed over the years though there are tension and some continuity of old traditions, beliefs, and lifestyle.

The NMC is perceived as one of the fastest growing segments of the urban population in the city of Bangalore. The size of the NMC has significant implications as they play a vital role in India ‘s economic growth and sustainability. Indeed, they constitute a sizeable portion of the global workforce, particularly in IT and related industries that have enhanced their identity, influence and global-local exchange.

In addition to the above, the NMC growth and their increasing consumption habits, economic mobility, substantial political attentiveness, national and international exchange and socio-cultural influence have assigned them a significant place in the Indian and global society. Hence, it is crucial to understand the NMC on the backdrop of globalization and its ongoing transformation. The government and other entities need to take note of this growth narrative and these changing dynamics.