Middle-class survivors are the new poor of society

Hyderabad: The pandemic has gravely impacted all the sectors of the economy, but no one has borne the brunt of this as much as middle-class individuals. We all empathize with the farmers, migrants workers, and rural areas, but what about the middle class, especially within the urban areas? The people sitting at home are often unable to work as they have lost their jobs too.

The middle class includes people who earn between five to fifty thousand rupees a month. The lockdown and pandemic that has sapped the economy and caused unprecedented anguish have turned the middle class into the new poor segment of society.

At least the lower classes in the post lockdown got back their earnings, they have jobs like the maids, the auto-rickshaw jobs as earlier. As always, the upper classes have no existential worriesIt is the middle class that has lost their jobs and their worries are increasing day by day. They receive no salary and no tax relief from the government. Yes, the factories have started production, but does the middle class have money in the form of disposable income to consume products?

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Just because they happen to be sandwiched between the upper and lower strata, they must have enough money to sail through rough waters right?

Nothing could be farther from the truth

These burgher-dom consists of teachers in unassisted private schools, universities, colleges, office assistants, data entry operators, salesperson, assistant managers in hotels or restaurants, receptionists, estheticians, small business owners, those who run small mobile phone services, repair shops, and others in the service industry.

In the past three months, there have been reports of many companies about laying off their employees and many others declaring pay cuts.

Mazher Ali, a Confederation of Voluntary Associations (COVA) executive reveals, “With an average monthly income of around 15,000 rupees and the pressures to present a middle-class façade, they will hardly be left with any savings. Others will not think of supporting them and even if some do, they will hesitate to make an offer of support out of fear of hurting their dignity. They have not been given salary from almost three months and most of them are the sole bread earners of the family.” 

“Teachers are committing suicides in Andhra Pradesh and a similar situation could occur Telangana. It’s high time! The government must intervene and help these families at least with basics like ration,” added Mazher.

Meanwhile, many job cuts have been rapid and brutal. Independent stores have reduced their number of staff, delivery executives suspended, and a large proportion of workers who belong primarily to the middle class in the supply chain and backend industry have been laid off without pay. The owners are unable to pay and they end up saying “Business is down. How do I give salaries?”

A major section of people in this class is private school teachers. These teachers usually work in community schools — better known as basti schools — do not earn more than Rs. 12,000 to Rs, 15,000. Most among them are widows with more than five children as well as the sole bread earners of the household.

Asghar Ali, a consultant for schools and NGOs said, “The city has over 3,700 private teachers who are in dire need of help. They have been given no salary for almost three months now. Ironically, even the school management is helpless as both the government and the pandemic have deprived them income. Even worse, many of the basti schools are also being shut forever as there are no admissions or fees which make it impossible to pay rent and salaries.”

“Just like the poor are given basic food facilities, even the middle class, especially the lower middle class, must be given with help,” he added.

Temporarily, many of these middle-class employees are seen working as maids, cooks, home tutors, and tailors to bear the basic food expenses.

Shaista, who worked in a store said, “I have been removed from work as they as there are no customers. Now I am looking for work with basic pay for basic sustenance.”

The government has been attempting for somewhat of an economic recovery by increasing the petrol and diesel prices, but without providing aid to the middle class.

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