SWAGATO GANGULY The Times of India 16 Jul 2007
A middle class-governed society would certainly improve Indian democracy in many ways. Aided by reforms, such as the Right to Information Act, it will give rise to a vibrant civil society, which will act as a powerful counter-force to statist politicians used to ruling through patronage and calculated giveaways.
Corruption would become a bigger no-no. Elites have no interest in doing away with corruption, as it allows those with financial or political clout to bend the rules. The poor are too busy surviving each day to focus on larger issues. It's only the middle class which can take on corruption.
The protests which changed the course of the Jessica Lal trial are a harbinger of better things to come. Nearly a fifth of India's current MPs have been accused of crimes, including murder. India has a decent, middle-class prime minister who wrestles with the problem, but can do nothing about it. But by 2025 the problem could have found its own resolution: the electorate itself will vote the rogues out.
Indian democracy may also begin to crack its other big problems: communal and caste divides, as well as Maoist insurgencies. Where poverty and unemployment are widespread it's easy to mobilise young males by invoking grievances, whether real or imagined. But in a society that's bubbling with opportunity not only will many of those grievances themselves be mitigated; people will have less time and incentive to wear them on their sleeve.