India’s Elites in Crisis

NEW DELHI – For a country with 1.2 billion people, India is ruled by a surprisingly small elite, which runs everything from the government to large companies and even sports bodies. But a series of scandals, some involving billions of dollars, has now seriously undermined that elite’s standing in the eyes of the Indian public.

Almost anyone in a position of power in India, including well-known print and television journalists, is now viewed with suspicion. This is occurring at a time when economic growth is pulling a young and upwardly mobile population into the urban middle class. This new middle class is no longer constrained by the patronage systems of the village, but it also does not enjoy the cozy relationship that links the old middle class with the elite. Could this crisis of the elite trigger India’s own Tiananmen Square moment?