sulabh swatchh bharat

Tuesday, 17-October-2017

LEAP OF FAITH - THE NEW INDIAN MIDDLECLASS

The Indian middle class is no longer eying secure jobs only, they are also following their passion and creating high standards of professionalism

It’s 5:00 am in the morning, I could hear someone talking in the phone with a little put on american accent. I am curious; I get out of bed and advance towards the other room only to find that my room-mate has acquired his first US client after 4 months of his struggle to sustain his new start-up. As I stood on the door, happy for him I told myself “Following one’s passion is possible today”, even if few TED Talks don’t agree with me.  Many would argue that not all the start-ups succeed in-fact only a handful do, but that’s a different discussion with many data points and has to be looked from a plural perspective. I am talking middle class’s newly developed brawn of taking risks and following passion. 
There are many who have left plush corporate jobs to follow their passion. Not every passion requires creating a start-up but it requires some appetite for risk. This trait of taking risk is not necessarily related with always creating something new, more and more mid age professionals are taking sabbaticals to follow their passion and convert it into a living. You can switch a job if you don’t find the work culture appropriate as opposed to earlier times where you would have to wait wait for your senior’s retirement or transfer. There are more photographers, writers, artists, film makers and countless other artists than ever. Technology has played a significant role in uplifting this middle class. Your market is on internet, if your passion can be transformed into products or services, you can survive and survive well. The market place is on your fingertips in your smartphone in the form of apps. The constant demand of skills apart from engineering, medical, law or civil services (The Holy Grail of secure jobs)  has resulted in people following their passion full time. 

Anuj and Umesh, the duo behind a popular Film Blog “Blog To Bollywood” are engineers by qualification but have pursued their passion and made a good name for themselves in serious film business blogs. When I met them for the first time, they were working at a multinational IT company but they kept the blog alive and kicking so much that they were approached by few production houses to promote their upcoming films. Never could have one imagined 20 years ago that two engineers in Delhi would be approached by a production house in Mumbai for a film promotion.  This is just one example, there are star bloggers, photographers, cooks and free lance artists  in India whose monthly earnings  can put a corporate salary to shame. What is most interesting about Indian middle class is security isn’t their first priority when deciding their endeavour, it is satisfaction that tops security when it comes to life choices. 
There are countless social forces that have supported this new behaviour. Reality shows, dance shows and abundant demand of multiple genres on television and  society has given rise to new professionals who din’t exist before. Yoga Trainers, Event Planners, Photographers, Choreographers etc are some of the services that were available to only a privileged few in the 90s. The demand was less and occasional and so the were the suppliers. With the dramatic surge in the purchasing power of the middle class in India, the demand of lifestyle services has gone up and so has the supply. Youtube has given rise to not just stars but also film makers, writers, make-up artists, home chefs and almost everyone who has a craft to display. The quality can be sometimes doubted, but not the fearlessness.  
Saurabh Jain who is a Charted Accountant by profession is also a known name in photography in Udaipur. A thorough professional in visual storytelling through photograph his work speaks for itself. When he goes on shoot, none of his are short of a confident and professional photographyr who know what he is doing. I didn’t meet through a personal introduction or by a mutual friend which was the only way few years ago to meet an offbeat professional. I met him through a website that acts as a mediator between artists and audience. You can search for the service and filter down the choices by your budget, location or calendar. In my recent visit too Mumbai, it came across and app that delivers food cooked by home chefs. You get all kind of cuisines, prices, and offers that you can choose from. If you can win the taste buds of your audience, you can create a sustainable living by Cooking and all of this without an investment of a single penny. You get paid the moment you deliver the first order. In this avalanche of foreign investments by venture capital firms, middle class has found a goldmine that is financially rewarding and emotionally satisfying. 
Finally, if we look at the films of recent timesvVs the ones in 90’s, there is a remarkable difference in the ‘Hero. Today’s ‘hero’ is not a lower class boy who fights the rich to get married to a rich girl, instead he is a middle class boy who has aspirations and dreams of following his own path and earning name and fame from it. There is still a great struggle involved, which will always be present because there is no academy of “excellence”. Yet, nothing stops the once secure-maniac Indian middle class.