Today’s urban society has managed to blur the lines between social and economic classes. There has been an uncanny rise of middle class that has created new definitions of compartments, no longer driven by the caste. There are more economic classes now and there are many other tags now. The weird thing is that the original caste system also came from professions and so did the new world order. Except for the fact that earlier, no one had a choice but to follow the profession of their fathers and forefathers and hence the castes emerged and survived. But now the professions are by choice and caste or surnames are nothing more than names; the identification is personal merits and achievements.
When India and Indians started to open up to the world and become global, a new era was born. The arrival of multinational corporations in India led to gradual surge in demand for educated and well qualified workforce. New professions emerged and new jobs were created. More money flowed through the system; more money was earned and spent. More people discovered the power of credit, more marketers promoted higher expenditure. In a short span of time, the society was reorganized. More and more people permeated the fine lines and entered the middle class. The burgeoning middle class of India, especially urban India, grew faster than ever before. This led to multiple layers within middle class with tags of upper-middle-class and lower-middle-class. This new upcoming middle class is more affluent and willing to spend then the yesteryears’ riches.
The new urban Indian social order brought an interesting mix of people from different economic backgrounds and social classes as one group of professionals working together. Individuals from across the country, across castes, religions and genetic lineage operated as equals and were treated as equals. The ironical truth of the situation is that these equal individuals created a whole new way of compartmentalizing themselves. The new barriers defined them as MBAs, engineers, fashion designers, journalists, sportsperson, singers, actors, photographers, wedding planners etc.
Would this mean multiple layers of compartmentalization of Indian society? There was already the caste, religion and region. And now there will be education, salary or professional status. Isn’t there any possible way to remove compartments altogether? Or at least minimize the number of groups and reduce the mistreatment within the compartments? Will these new compartments completely override the existing ones? Perhaps, that last question is relatively easier to answer. Given the last hundreds of years of history and the current political scenario of the country, these groups and tags will not cease to exist for a long time to come. Some of these divisions of social classes are so deep-rooted in our society, culture and minds that it will take a lifetime to get rid of them. And some political motives will ensure that these names are taken often enough and misused in the game of power.
The critical question is can there ever be a non-compartmentalized society. Humans, by default, have an interesting genetic structure where some are superior and some love to show they are superior. There are emotions like ambition and envy. If these emotions cease to exist, all marketing will fail and most products would not be required. And eventually society will not progress, further killing the very foundation of a prosperous urban society. If there is no demand, there will be no jobs; there will be no buyers and no sellers. It’s a vicious cycle. Why fight to make a society better if it would lead to the destruction of its very foundation?
Perhaps, there is merit in fighting for a just and better society. Despite this dilemma, there is one valid reason I can still think of. The compartments earlier were tagged on your forehead with your birth. And the discrimination and unjust treatment was as barbaric and inhuman as it can get. But the new compartments are driven by merit and hard work. The discrimination and unjust treatment is not painful and inhumane. The co-existence of multiple social and economic layers is much more acceptable and pleasant in the new world order.