Given the economic crisis in Sri Lanka, it is but natural that there would be protests. Those protesting are not, as they say #Andolanjeevis, #urbannaxals or #xtremists, though they are being called all of those and more – Is there a toolkit at play? – but the men, and women in the middle of the Muddle that those above and below create for them. Mostly above because that is that way of the world.
They are lighter, and float above their weighty decisions which weigh heavily on those just below. There is an ancient science behind this. Everything we cherish, the Rain, the Sun, and the air we breathe comes from above. But the oil we use to enjoy what comes from above, can only be found below and it is the key to everything. Even the Soya is Ruchi when it can be got for free – pun intended! The lesson learned is that when we can’t pay for it, we can’t enjoy what comes from above and we begin to protest! Not before, not lifelong. Only when we can’t take it no more.
We are the men, and women, in the middle of every muddle; we even have a name – Middle class. We are officially defined as the men, and women, in the middle of an Economic ladder. We hardly want to climb down, as the sky is the limit! When it is a matter of opinion, we in the middle class, generally don’t have an opinion – we are like the river remember? on the Riviera enjoying our reverie of the morrow; and, anyway, if we do have one, our opinion hardly matters. So over time, we have lost the ability to voice it! It is certainly safer, and healthier, though emotionally challenging to do so. We are told, our opinion does matter, and is heard, inside the EVM booth. The key word is inside. Not outside! After all, a booth is a booth, a ghost that returns to the genie, sorry genius that gives it a back rub every now and then.
We in the Middle Class are a middling Class. Our Tool Kit – not the one that gets us arrested if we use it, being middle class – is reminiscent of water in the river, which enjoys its day in the sun, the rain, and even the snow. It is unperturbed if it is stagnant, unperturbed if it is on the move – it goes with the flow, over rocks and boulders, over pebbles and sand, and around any obstacle it cannot surmount – without a sermon on the mount. It flows downward with ease, and upward when there is pressure on its back.
The river may be mighty, but it can’t survive without the bank, like the middle class. And our bank is not so different. It is a life saver that helps keep our shavings – the everyday stubble that we, with reluctance, hive off – safe, without shaving it further. Until now. It is to the middling class, what the sea, the spring and the rain is to the river… of life. It’s supposed to be safe, sturdy, at least on the outside, and a haven for those who love using other’s shavings – for that is all there is to it – shaving to save – to create their own stubble bubble!
Until the deposit is fixed, they have an interest in you and their interest reflects on the rate of interest you earn. Earlier it was fixed, but now it varies with the weather – climate change affects it, like it affects everything else and still we do nothing but encourage it, passively. Because change is good, no? That’s what we are told every day. A New everything! Anew! And what can we do, we are in the middle of the muddle!
As a middle class, we must show interest in the annual inflation chart, not just of our car tyre. Well, let me kindle your interest beyond the 5% it is currently. If that is possible at all! The Annual inflation rate in India accelerated – new environmentally friendly hybrid engines are in place – for a 5th straight month to 6.07% in February of 2022, the highest since June of 2021, and above market forecasts of 5.93%. Food inflation increased to 5.85%, the highest reading since November of 2020, with cost of oils and fats (16.44%), meat and fish (7.45%), and vegetables (6.13%) recording the biggest rises. Other upward pressure came from prices of fuel and light (8.37%), miscellaneous (6.52%), clothing and footwear (8.86%), housing (3.57%) and pan and tobacco (2.39%). The inflation stayed at the top of the Reserve Bank of India’s target of 2%-6% for the second consecutive month. (Source: Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI)) .
Inflation has a target, when breached, there will be a flood?
What this means for our middling class is that the froth atop of our beer glass occupies a larger space than the lager! Froth is good – its density gives the beer a creamy quality and a sense of fullness on the tongue, so much so we can’t really open our mouth to scream when the Bank’s interest in us declines to 5%. That is less than the froth. It’s like we are hungry but can’t eat because of the gas! Indeed, one of the most important tasks of the foam is to protect the beer against oxidation. So, we are being protected. We will now be able save more – even if we have to shave harder daily.
The blade is blunt, and we really can’t buy a new one unless we grab a handful of our previous shavings, which by the way are no longer moist! as they shrivel daily in the hot sun. And we will stop buying. They will stop producing, and then it will circle back to Point Neuf at which point we will be ready to jump off it. That’s a long way down!
And yet we are fueled by happy thoughts. Forget about the happiness index! The cost of happiness increases by 80 paise per day and we are ready to buy it – because we hope and because we measure it against sadness we endure – the 260% taxes – which is the right way to measure anything. It’s this mixture of emotions that keeps us alive and rooting for those above who make these weighty decisions. Gotta check their weight!
But the bank is not just for the middle class. In fact, we falsely believe that it is for us. 5% is for us in the middle. The rest is for those who have very little in their bank accounts and are either below or above us on the economic ladder. They are the ones who burrow deep within and borrow, and in some cases do not repay, but cry out for relief, to help the bank survive and help it grow – for us! Too complicated? Well, that’s economics for you. We get what we need, they get what they want!
Being in the middle of this muddle is like putting our best foot forward. Being on our best behavior in front of guests, hoping to get what we need first, and then what we want. We can plant our feet on both sides of the fence and slide down. But at some point, it will have rough edges and we will begin to feel the steel. Ouch! Where’s the balm?
The middle is growing – it does as we grow older, you know. It’s a comfortable feeling. But the top and bottom remain static! That is because when we are in the middle, we are by nature calm even if we feel like the toothpaste in a tube of toothpaste early morning – It comes out and goes down the drain! Without saying a word! I’ve said one too many!
This Article is written in the lighter vein. It hopes to bring a smile to your face, and you must not ascribe motives to its contents. There is no connection to events and characters in real life and if perchance you find a connect with any such real-life event or character, rest assured its purely coincidental.
Image by Lahiru Supunchandra