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Middle class loves to splurge

The segment that's powerful enough to shape India's destiny is the one most of us belong to. HT does a reality check

india Updated: Jan 29, 2007 03:12 IST

The Indian middle class is seduced by la dolce vita, finds an HT-CNN IBN-CSDS survey. Discarding the spartan lifestyle of their parents, an increasing number of the middle class is plumping for a new attitude to spending.

Regardless of whether they live in towns, cities or rural areas, over half of all middle-class respondents say they will rather have a good lifestyle than a simple one.

Travel and eating out are two areas drawing in the new consumerists. Among the upper middle class, 63 per cent have gone on a vacation at least once in the past two years; 14 per cent say they eat out at least once a week. The bug seems to have caught the lower middle class too: 51 per cent have taken a holiday in the past two years and 8 per cent say they eat out at least once a week.

"People are travelling, are aware and do not mind spending on exotic cuisine ranging from Moroccan to Lebanese," said Arjun Puri who runs a catering service called XO Last year, domestic tourism alone saw a 30 per cent increase, pointed out Jyoti Mayal of New Airways travel agency. "People are ready to pack and leave even for a two-day break at a moment's notice," she said.

Despite the candlelight vigils and the paeans sung to the new middle-class consciousness, idealism has taken a back seat. In metros, 41 per cent of those polled believe that honest people suffer and one has to be more practical.

"The new liberalism is about the individual," said sociologist Deepankar Gupta. "The older generation has reneged on ideals."

Not surprisingly, then, 68 per cent respondents up to the age of 25 say they want to live abroad. "People of the previous generation came back to India because of a sense of idealism," said Gupta. "Today, if they come back, it is to make money."

First Published: Jan 29, 2007 03:12 IST