Class System

Class System

This article deals with Class System’ . This is part of our series on ‘Society’ which is important pillar of GS-1 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here.


  • Class  is an economic concept which is decided by economic factors like Income, wealth, occupation .
  • Before arrival of British there was  no vivid classes as caste system  was the basis of social structure.

British rule & emergence of Class System

After arrival of British class system developed in India due to

  1. Agricultural reforms
  2. Urbanisation
  3. Industrialisation
  4. Education

Agricultural reform : after arrival of Britishers Indian revenue system was overhauled into Ryotwari  , Mahalwari  and Permanent system which divided rural society into two classes

  1. Zamindars & Mahajans
  2. Farmers, Ryot, small animal husband, landless labourers


Industrialisation and urbanisation divided society into

  1. Industrialists and investors
  2. Labour class.


After independence, there was more development of class system in India due to reasons like

  1. Green revolution
  2. IT revolution
  3. LPG Reforms
  4. Vocational education

After 1990 , even three classes were subdivided thrice each  into lower, middle and upper.

  • Upper class(upper,middle and lower)
  • Lower class (upper,middle and lower
  • Middle class(upper,middle and lower)

Generally three classes broadly identified in India has following characteristics

  1. Upper class: those people which control and regulate wealth & investment and gain profit from wealth & investment .
  2. Middle class : those people which do white collared jobs, or are in technical or administrative sectors  .
  3. Lower class : these people do unskilled or semi-skiled work .

Middle Class

The middle class in  India is decided mainly by three factors

  • Income : range 15000 to 1.5 lakh / month . Income is such that basic requirements of life like food, housing, clothing, education and even entertainment are easily met.
  • Occupation: middle class generally do white collared, technological or administrative jobs .
  • Education : well educated and ambitious.


The reasons for expansion of middle class in India are

  • Macaulay’s education policy
  • Industrialisation and urbanisation
  • Green revolution : middle class created in OBC
  • Reservation and education : middle class in SC and STs
  • LPG reforms : middle class in women as  separate identity
  • Globalisation : Middle class in states like Kerala, Punjab etc. with help of remittances send from abroad.

The structure of middle class in India is quite complex and around 35 crore people come under it, which is double the total population of US.

Importance of Middle Class

  • Initiator of Reforms : French Revolution was result of Middle Class .
  • Economic Development : Demand of Middle Class is highest . Apart from that, they are the main contributors of tax in the country.
  • Political Accountability : Middle Class demands accountability making government responsive and transparent .
  • Promotes formation of human capital (as they spend on education of their children) .

But Indian Middle Class is criticized because

  • Self Centric : Indulged in preserving and promoting only their own interests .
  • Self Exclusivist : Instead of demanding accountability from Political System they have started living in gated communities.
  • Not paying back to society and don’t accept the fact that they have benefited from highly subsidized education system .
  • Excessive indulgence : consumerism has plagued Middle Class  .

But even after that, most of the social movements are led by Middle Class .