The muddled modernity of the lower-middle class

The muddled modernity of the lower-middle class: Perhaps no section of Indian society has been as deeply affected, in all sorts of ways, by the process we call ‘liberalisation’ than the lower-middle class. It has benefitted from the material fruits


Some old ad went like this.."If you can't give the child mother's milk...AMUL"

Remembered this when I thought..."If you cannot afford reading a book...AT LEAST READ its review in The Hindu..."

Excerpts from review: "“But Shanbhag is prepared to go
beyond consumption, looking at how the influx of new wealth has been a
disruptive and ambiguous — but not an entirely negative — phenomenon. Nobody
embodies this better than the narrator’s sister, who divorces her husband and
returns to the family household. The financial upswing has given her the
confidence to challenge patriarchal authority. Her attitude is completely
devoid of docility, insolent even; in short, a swagger that in a traditional
society is the sole domain of men.

Her return to the family set-up leads
her into a new territory, towards an assertion of sexual freedom. “Malati
forever invoked a friend named Mythili with whom she’d watch films, at whose
place she’d stay over, in whose company she’d take trips to Mysore and Madras,”
the narrator writes. “I suspected this Mythili was a front behind which she was
having an affair with someone. Even if that were true, what could I have done?”
The passage highlights the reflex to
male judgement, but at the same time, an escalating loss of control which had
little chance of being threatened prior to the advent of the new social
circumstances. It is a condition of muddled modernity — it is how I interpreted
the gibberish title — where the old order has been substantially shaken, but
not dismantled, and the new world can barely be glimpsed. What exists is the
condition of a society in protracted transition, with all its pain, dilemma and

M G Warrier


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