A section of low-income people in the country are swiftly becoming rich supported by “patronised politics,” noted economist Prof Wahiduddin Mahmud has observed.
“Now, some people in the low-income class are being lifted to upper or rich class bypassing the middle-class segment thanks to patronized politics. It is not possible by other means,” he remarked.
Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC) organised the virtual discussion on “Turning Points in the Society: Where have the Middle Classes Gone?” on Saturday evening.
Earlier, the middle-class people had a large contribution to political leadership or intellectual development, but the leadership is going to the upper class now, the eminent citizens said.
Prof Mahmud thinks that only materialistic development without development of the cognitive level or morality has no use in the long run. And the middle class has an active role to play to this end.
In the context of the capitalist economy, the middle class is considered as a market and consumers, he alleged.
As a result, the scope of public reasoning is squeezing in the society, but it is very important in lowering disparity or building an improved society.
He said the middle class played a big role in the mass movement of '69, the United Front election of '54, the election of '70 and the Liberation War.
Citing an ADB estimate, PPRC Chairman Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman informed that people with a minimum daily income of $2 are in the middle class.
In an average family of four and a half members, people with a monthly income of Tk 20,000 to Tk40,000 are lower middle class. People with a per capita income of Tk 41,000 to Tk1 lakh are middle class. And people with income from Tk 1 lakh to Tk 2 lakh are upper-middle-class, he added.
"Efforts should be made to establish a connection to involve the middle class in the mass movements. The middle class needs to be restructured with the idea of social change. If farmers, workers and the middle class are united, it is possible to build a new society," Dr Binayak Sen commented.
Journalist Faruk Wasif observed that the middle class is now losing their leadership and the role of hero. Although their size is increasing, they are losing their individuality.
Wasif said a new middle class has emerged from the towns alongside the old middle class. A large part of them have been employed in small enterprises or services.
Bangladesh is transforming into a middle-income country, GDP growth has been possible through them, he added.
Dr Adnan Morshed, professor at, Catholic University of USA and executive director, Center for Inclusive Architecture and Urbanism, BRAC, said "Everyone in the civil society is running towards personal wealth. In the midst of this hustle and bustle, the middle class has lost its identity."
He said, today the middle class is a bit confused in terms of cultural, economic and professional skills.