This blog contains material I wrote and posted on multiply.com between the years 2005 and 2011 only. It does not contain any new material. For newer writing, please check my main blog (Bill the Butcher).
Wednesday, 28 November 2012
I forgot all about this post. What does that say about me?
From 6 September 2007
If you’re a regular on this blog, you’d have to be deaf and blind not to be aware of my feelings about the Great Indian Middle Class. It’s difficult even to quantify the contempt I feel for it, much less give it expression. It would probably require a book if I were to begin writing about all the things that were wrong with it, so here I can just focus on individual things.
Like, for example, the case of Geetanjali Nagpal.
Who is Geetanjali Nagpal? She's the woman in the picture.
A former model, both on the catwalk and having “graced” magazine covers, she was discovered wandering the streets of Delhi, homeless, ragged, filthy, begging for food. Fluent in English (she’s a graduate of a top women’s college, Lady Shriram’s) she claimed to be “from Mars” and reacted violently to TV cameras and microphones being thrust in her face. Do you blame her?
The Great Indian Middle Class reacted with shock and horror. How come one of them – daughter of an Indian Navy officer, even now undeniably attractive, English-speaking, educated, “decent” – how could she descend so low? The papers and the news channels were full of stories of her affairs and of her child whom her boyfriend (referred to by some papers as her “husband” – Indian newspapers also recently married Brad Pitt and la Jolie) took away to Germany. They were talking to her mother and her sister who alleged that she used to come to their house (also in Delhi) and take money, only to spend it on alcohol and drugs.
The Great Indian Middle Class was titillated. It was also quite genuinely shocked. This sort of thing didn’t happen to People Like Us, you see. People Like Us got on camera and said suitably inane things and went to Los Angeles on holiday. They didn’t sleep in parks and temples and beg people for money – in English, at that. It was terrible, it was scandalous, it was a reflection on themselves, it had to be put right.
So the Great Indian Middle Class set about putting it right.
So what happened to Geetanjali Nagpal? She was whisked away to a hospital, cleaned up, dressed in “decent” clothes, and is now being “rehabilitated”. It’s incredible how many people and groups are determined to “rehabilitate” her.
Hundreds, hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of beggars flood India. Some are sham, with bank accounts and large houses in their native villages. But there are many others, and many of them are children, who don’t eat if they don’t beg. The Middle Class isn’t bothered about rescuing them. It isn’t bothered at the idea that they are just as hooked on drugs as the Nagpal social circle was. It doesn’t give a damn for them. They aren’t People Like Us, and they might as well be of a different species. A few years ago, an Olympic gold medallist – a member of the Indian men’s hockey team of 1980 – was discovered working as a labourer in a quarry in Bihar, breaking stones. I still remember one member of the Great Indian Middle Class having a good giggle at the photo of an emaciated, unshaven man in cracked plastic shoes, gold medal round his neck, breaking stones in a quarry. Nor does the Great Indian Middle Class get worked up over ragged, filthy kids with matted hair being forced to beg from cars at traffic lights. They're dark and rustic and not simpatico. They do not deserve sympathy.
Economically, I guess I’m of the middle class, but in every other way I try and stay aloof.