Expanding middle approach aims to bridge the gap between different socioeconomic groups and promote inclusive policies.
It is a development strategy which aims to promote economic growth, reduce inequality and alleviate poverty by strengthening the middle class.
The core principle behind this approach is that a thriving middle class can provide a strong foundation to sustained economic growth and social stability.
This approach involves creating policies and programmes which improve access to education, healthcare, employment opportunities and financial services.
For example, implementation of poverty alleviation and self employment generation programmes, poverty in India has declined to ~16% of the population and led to emergence of middle class at the national level.
According to an estimate, about one-third of the population is estimated to have entered the middle-class. This shall further lead to a virtuous cycle of economic development where more growth opportunities are created to move into middle class and beyond.
Expanding Middle: 4S framework
- It means to ensure enrichment through inflation control and loans
- Between 2014 and 2022, annual inflation was 4. 6%.
- Despite multiple global crises, the CPI was at 5. 7% in December 2022, which was much lower than many G20 countries.
- This ensured a greater liquidity for the middle-class and lower EMIs resulted in decline in loan rates. For example, student loan rates were priced about 8% in 2022 from around 14% in 2014.
- Middle-class families found lower EMIs which made it easier to purchase more houses, cars and also take more loans for the higher education.
- One-nation one-tax initiative of GST has led to gross savings of an estimated Rs 18 lakh-crore in the economy, which works out to an annual household saving of Rs 12,00
- 120 million of 380 million beneficiaries of the PM Mudra Yojana were middle-class individuals.
- It aims to secure a healthy future.This includes significant government efforts to provide affordable healthcare and quality education.
- Steps in this direction include:
- 353 new universities in the last nine years
- Opening up of 15 new AIIMS and 261 new medical colleges
- 41 Indian universities featured in global rankings in 2023 compared to just nine in 2014
- 50-90% cheaper generic medicines available at 9,000 Jan Aushadhi Kendras
- 87 crore free screenings is done at 1. 5 lakh Ayushman Bharat Centres.
- A better life with quality infrastructure leading to improved standard of living.
- By 2022, India built 1. 65 lakh kms of national highways and had the second largest road network in the world, after the US
- India now has metro connectivity in 20 cities. India is expected to have third largest metro network globally by the end of 2023.
- India has the highest per capita mobile data consumption rate and among the lowest cost of data per GB in the world.
- Nearly 80% of India’s 120 crore mobile phone users and 80 crore internet users are expected to receive 5G connectivity within a year. If done it will be the world’s fastest 5G roll-out.
- Apart from that, visible improvements is seen in housing, transportation, tap water connections, and waste management.
- On an average, power is now available for 22 hours against 12. 5 hours in 2015.
- Hassle-free existence through Digital India initiatives.
- India’s cashless digital payment ecosystem is hailed as among the best in the world.
- UPI accounted for 65% of the total digital transactions in 2021-22.
- DigiLocker facility for paperless certificate authentication has been embraced by the middle-class.
Overall, India’s rising global profile in a multitude of areas has inculcated a new sense of pride among Indian middle class. Indian government remains committed to boosting prosperity for the middle-class through the 4S framework, providing an alternative development model to the world.