Why the Middle Class Matters
Ashutosh Kumar
MIDDLE CLASS, MEDIA AND MODI: THE MAKING OF A NEW ELECTORAL POLITICS by Nagesh Prabhu Sage Publications, New Delhi, , 374 pp., 1395.00
December 2020, volume 44, No 12

The ‘exceptionalism’ of the book under review according to its author, a senior journalist, lies in the fact that it seeks to unravel the rise of the Modi leadership ‘from the middle class perspective’ without adhering to ‘any ideological point of view’ unlike ‘other books on Modi’ by Modi ‘loyalists or critics’. Also, the self-proclaimed ‘unbiased’ study uses media reports as the ‘primary source’ to analyse the Modi phenomenon.

A reading of the book reveals, however, that it is more about the rise of the middle class and its political and economic implications for contemporary India than about the media fuelled rise of the Modi leadership. When it comes to dissecting the factors that led to the rise, the book turns into a detailed uncritical journalistic account of political developments, speeches, tweets and curated interviews by Modi as reported mainly in the news magazines and the newspapers to present the arguments which are fairly well known.

The volume raises important questions about the specific ‘role of the middle class in Indian politics’, which include: Who constitutes the Middle class? What can be the criteria for identifying the middle class? What is the size of the middle class? Why does this class matter? How does the middle class stabilize and strengthen democracy? What are the political implications of the ever-expanding class on politics? Is this class the driver of recent economic growth?

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