ELECTION AGENDA 2019-ROLE OF NEO-MIDDLE CLASS

Dr Sonam Dixit

The notion of class has played an important role in society and particularly in the politics.

In 2014 BJP manifesto has added a new term, “Neo –Middle Class” in addition to the Middle class. The Manifesto too speaks of the rise of the Neo-Middle Class and their growing aspirations. The class have risen from the category of poor and are trying to alleviate in the middle class is the neo middle class. This class needs practical support and cooperation. They stepped out of poverty, now their aspirations have increased. They want to taste the services of a certain standard, seek amenities, that’s why now they feel that Government facilities and services are not up to the par, and henceforth route to the private sector for things like education, health and transport. This is obviously costly, leaving the neo middle class into a daily dilemma. As more and more people move into this category, their anticipations, aspirations and hopes for improved public services have been ignited.”

To ensure that all (societies- communities/classes) are equal in India’s progress, the saffron party has said that it will “strengthen and modernize the poor and deprived sections for their advancement to meet their necessity and aspirations to live a better life.

In the BJP s “commitment letter”, they pledge to focus on the class which emerged from the below poverty line but still don’t succeed in the urban middle class classification.   The Modi government promised to devote in the process of stimulating the “neo middle class” leitmotif, or this appealing formula of neo – middle class was just a new political game to win the election.

Overall there has been things which are intended to pull middle class which is usually the core segment voting for BJP/Modi so far in last general election and over 3-4 years.
In a marginal relief to the individual taxpayers, Finance Minister Arun Jaitely on Thursday increased the Income Tax exemption limit from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 2.5 lakh for citizens up to 60 years.

Increase in Home Loan Interest amount to 2 Lakhs from Taxable income. Section 80EE allows tax benefits for first time home buyers. Income Tax deduction can be claimed on home loan interest towards your first house property. The deduction allowed under this section is for interest paid on home loan up to maximum Rs 50,000 per financial year. You can continue to claim this deduction until you have fully repaid the loan.

Investment deductions increased from 1 Lakh to 1.5 Lakhs to save under income tax section 80. By claiming this deduction, a person can reduce his/her gross taxable income and thereby the total tax payable by him/her. For example, if your gross total earnings say, for a financial year is Rs 6.5 lakh and if you invest Rs 1.5 lakh in notified schemes which allows you to claim this tax benefit, then your net taxable income will come down to Rs 5 lakh and you would have to pay tax on this amount. The Token amount of Rs 40,000 is taken as standard deductions.

The 2018 budget evidenced good news for middle class is that pensioners will benefit from the standard deduction structure. The government also had some good news for senior citizens who will now get some relief by way of exemption of interest income on deposits with banks and post offices which will be increased from Rs 10,000 to Rs 50,000. Senior citizens will now be able to claim benefits of deduction up to Rs 50,000 per annum by way of health insurance premium and/ or medical expenditure under Section 80D. The finance minister also raised the limit of deduction for medical expenditure with respect to certain critical illness from Rs 60,000 in case of senior citizens and from Rs 80,000 in case of very senior citizens to Rs 1 lakh under Section 80 DDB.

With GST, prices of commodities getting rationalized and lowered after every GST meet, which is another way of saving.
Number of Tax Payers has increased (which so far were not bothered to pay taxes whatsoever), which seems to be a positive fallout of the Demonetization and GST giving the government to fund many ambitious project for the neo-middle and poor class. This will surely have a positive impact for middle class once amount of tax collection from these new tax payers is stabilized over next 2 years.
Prices of Houses in Metro cities have been stagnant and expected to reduce helping middle class person to buy house. By launching the housing schemes in urban areas, loans of up to Rs. 9 lakhs will receive interest sponsorship of 4% and loans of up to Rs. 12 lakh taken will receive interest sponsorship of 3 % under PMAY.

PM Narendra Modi announced to benefit poor, neo –middle class and middle class “All the schemes we have launched have been empowering to the poor. For the first time any Government is treating the poor not as vote bank based on their caste, religion and regional identity. For the last 40-50 years, the Governments have been using public funds to garner vote bank. We have shunned the path and I don’t want the country to return to that again,” said the Prime Minister after inaugurating the universal health insurance scheme hailed critically as ‘Modicare’.

With the unveiling of the Centre’s flagship scheme which has been renamed as PM Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY), the Narendra Modi-led NDA Government aims to provide healthcare facilities to over 10 crore families covering urban and rural poor.

He broadcasts the Nation –wide scheme for financial assistance to the pregnant women. The scheme promises to reduce maternal mortality rate and help ensure nutrition before and after delivery.

To add up the boost to care neo middle class PM Modi announces major decisions to benefit poor, and middle class. Government adds Rs20,000 crore to NABARD fund to ensure cheap credit to farmers. Upgradation of Kisan Credit cards to Rupay Debit cards , For the assistances and welfare of farmers,

To level up the small and Medium Enterprises receive major incentive to heighten employment, govt. giving priority to Dalits and Tribal, Backward Classes and Women.

By February 12, 2018 about 80% of rural households have been electrified , according to the Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (Prime Minister’s Easy Electricity for Every Household Scheme), or the Saubhagya scheme, launched on September 25, 2017 to electrify all rural and urban households.

Electricity for all – this includes 18K+ un-electrified villages being electrified and all households to get power connection by 2019. This is certainly not a small achievement.

And the major take away of Modi government is ZERO CORRUPTION at least in the higher echelons of government. In past years, corruption indirectly troubled middle class every year due to lack of funds in government treasuries compelling middle class to pay more tax (As that’s the main segment paying direct income tax). Prime Minister Modi called for “strict action” against bank officials who indulge in the corruptions, frauds or criminal conspiracy, according the multi-modal platform PRAGATI (proactive governance and timely implementation), highlighting the government’s zero tolerance for any such activity.

By swotting above welfares steps by BJP government, we have to wait and watch till next election that how successfully BJP wipes off   the 8 th November as a black day, when demonetization caused suffering to many lives, business went down and then petrol and diesel prices hitting a record high across the country, emptied the middle class pockets. Neo – Middle class do not calculate GDP, they don’t understand it, but they remember the fierce blow of GST Demonetization. Even though demonetization created liquidity crunch in the market and social stress among the masses, it was a master stroke to hit the prevailing black money in the Indian economy. It has hit at the terrorist funding, narcotics and black money specially in political funding. Its tangible impact will be evaluated in next 5 years.

Dr.SONAM DIXIT,Editorial Director of Global Governance News Group based at Kolkata

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