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Targeting Middle India – Socio-economic Engineering Part 3

Third and Concluding part of series on Socio-Economic Engineering  (Part 1 & Part 2)

Duetsche Bank Research released a report on February 15th 2010 titled The Middle Class in India – Issues and Opportunities

Some highlights extracted from this report that are of relevance to this discussion on Socio-Economic Engineering and targeting Middle India.

#1 -While there is no official definition of the middle class, estimates range from 30 million to approximately 300 million people.

#2 Even using the most generous estimates of the group‟s size, the middle class comprises less than 30 percent of the population

#3 The importance of the middle class lies in the fact that it is the fastest growing segment of the population

#4 while the total population will increase almost 30% between 2005 and 2025, the middle class population will increase approximately 10 times or almost 1000% during this period

#5 the middle class might see less of a link between their priorities (the CLSA survey found the number one political priority for the middle class over the next 12 months was employment) and a new government vs. the poor (who are typically more concerned with things such as basic healthcare infrastructure or farm loan waivers that are more directly linked to the government).

#6 A stronger political drive in the middle class would force or enable the government to also focus on issues that are of concern to them.

The report also puts into perspective why the flawed Liberal Left agenda of the Congress is meeting with electoral success

#1 The Gini coefficient (a measure of inequality where 100 = high levels of inequality and 0 equals no inequality in an economy) is rather low for India overall compared to other EMs at less than 35 but has been increasing since economic liberalisation

#2 although the poverty rate has been reduced, the rich continue to get richer in comparison

#3 As the middle class remains apathetic towards political participation as is currently thought, then the trend of focusing on poorer (often rural) voters to win elections could remain the dominant political paradigm in India.

The Liberal Left agenda of the Congress has benefited from the twin factors of Middle Class apathy and Demographic advantage by simultaneously targeting the poor and the elite rich.

This simultaneous targeting of a Demographic majority by the Congress can be best appreciated when viewed through the prism of what Rahul Gandhi calls “Growth with distribution”.

“Growth with distribution” is not just about targeting the poor with entitlements but it also about keeping the elite rich in power through this unholy nexus between Crony Capitalism and Politicians.

Pratap Bhanu Mehta writing in the Indian Express today  (clicking on this link may lead to virus infection), alerts us once again to the Congress’ strategy to consolidate power.

The Congress is widening its target demographic base by giving a new definition to the Poverty Line to expand Entitlements and is giving a religious twist to Backwardness to increase Quotas.

But then as Pratap Bhanu Mehta puts it hubris and complacency can still trip the Congress but it will take bold imagination for an alternative agenda to succeed.

Where is the Opportunity

As the Duetsche Bank Report says

#1 The growth of the middle class and the economic growth of India are in a virtuous cycle.

#2 As the middle class grows and continues to increase domestic demand, the economy will also continue to grow

#4 The growth of the middle class will force more businesses to expand and also force new business to take root

The opportunity for the Center Right agenda lies in what the Deutsche Bank Report calls

the key point in ensuring that the link between middle class growth and economic growth continues to strengthen

And that is in

 providing the right education and skills to the middle class and creating enough opportunities in society to absorb these


Socio Economic Engineering could be the vehicle for the Center Right movement to target Middle India with a “bold and imaginative” agenda.

A beginning must be made by

Step#1 – Giving a new broad definition to this fast growing demographic segment called the “Middle Class”

Step#2 – Micro-targeting based on issues that directly relate to economic priorities of the various sub-segments that make up this broad Middle Class

Step#3 – Structuring an electoral agenda around the “Ladder of Opportunites plus Safety Net” paradigm to address those priorities

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Filed under: DesiPundit, Left Liberalism, Narendra Modi, Neo Aspirational class, Neo Middle Class, New Middle Class, Progressivism, socio-economic engineering

44 Responses

  1. Umesh says:

    A moot point. Your views are very well taken. But, the problem is that, u need to articulate the same in much more simplified fashion.

    The Bottomline of ur argument deals with economics. But, this blog attracts mostly Ideological people.

    if you want to attract a different segment , you might need to write in a much more lucid and simpler language.

    Bottomline is, india understands money. You could write this in a language ur ordinary IT professional or a simple trader in a stationary shop understands better.

    have to say, that ur comments are very incisive.

  2. offstumped says:

    Umeshji – point well taken, all debate is work in progress, will refine the points over time with contextual examples.

  3. arjun says:

    BJP has to do the following;

    1) Hold the base i.e 18% of the vote share.

    2) Increase voteshare among SCs STs. Even a gain of 2-3% voteshare would reduce Congress voteshare by the same amount. This ca be done by consistently reaching out to SCs/STs and giving them prominent position in the organisation.

    3) Alliances with regional parties in key states to consolidate anti Congress votes.

  4. Pub Chick says:


    why are you worried about the BJP? Does the BJP worry about you? But if you ugly or horny, no one will. The answer, my boy, is Unilever. Or some other company that produces skincare products.

    Maybe we should make the global CEO of Unilever India’s Prime Minister by default. That will solve bad politics and ugly people. Two birds, one stone.

    Though, horniness might remain yet.

  5. cynicalcount says:

    Pubchick – Why are you worried about Arjun or anyone else being ugly or horny? Does the ugly or horny people worry about you? The answer my boy or my girl is a good counsellor. Or some good reputed mental asylum.

  6. Pub Chick says:

    Worry not darling, I shall help you too.

  7. cynicalcount says:

    Unfortunately I would have to decline your offer Pubchick. Kindly continue your rantings here. Good fun they are.

  8. Pub Chick says:

    I am the one ranting? Okay!

  9. BabuJadhav(Jai Shri Ram) says:

    @Pub Chick

    You are still carrying around the grudge, that certainly isn’t good for you.

    You know how that affects your diet and BP and in turn your physical appearance.

    This is a vicious cycle that you must come out of.

    Repeat after me :-

    “Sri Ram sena boys neglected me not because I am ugly even when I was trying hard to lure them, but because _they_ are ugly and horny and are into ugly and horny girls”

    Say that :-

    “I am Pub Chick, and I have inner beauty that my love Pseculars like Zakir Naik can see”

    Also :-

    “My Daru loves me and makes me feel good about myself”


    Guys let us sympathize with people with mental illness, lets make her feel better about herself. Otherwise who knows she might give up and devour sleeping pills leaving behind one ugly world that continuously reminded her of her external appearance.

    She compensates for lack of love and self confidence with use of perverted word and indulges in Freudian Projection.

    Poor PubChick, I think it is time for your Daru therapy. Remember world is ugly, but you have inner beauty.

  10. Fanatic_Hiindu says:

    If pubchick responds this will be fun :). Incidentally, we Hindu fanatics are enjoy our drink too along with a spice of Pink floyd.

    Too bad the Christmas carols with the Paedophiliac touch does not enthuse us well enough.

    Jingle the bell , Pussy’s[Pun completely unintended] in the well

    Where are you, My sweet[pinch of salt] little Pubby queen?

  11. BabuJadhav(Jai Shri Ram) says:


    She may call you horny and ugly, but trust me bro you attention has given her a new life.

    After the attack by the Boys of Sri Ram Sena, she was heart broken that every one ignored her as if she didn’t exist.

    What you have done is a pure social serivice, might have even saved a life.

    Aapne Punya ka kaam Kiya hai.

    I think at least today she don’t need to resort to intoxicant to put her self to rest.

    Sweet dreams, remember at least Fanatic_Hiindu likes you.

    And yes chant your mantra.

  12. BabuJadhav(Jai Shri Ram) says:

    [Sweet dreams, remember at least Fanatic_Hiindu likes you.

    And yes chant your mantra.]( <<<<<< Meant for dear Pub Chick)

  13. Ketan says:

    My suspicion is that Pub Chick and Babu are the same people, just what while posting her comments as Babu, Pub Chick is making more typos than usual to distract others.

    Can any eminent impostorologist prove that Pub Chick and Babu are not the same people?

  14. psecular says:

    Guys IGNORE pube-chic,the gender bender. It has hired someone to write English paragraphs with some heavy words and is happily inserting “ugly”, “horny” in between the sentences to show them off as her own. Its plagiarizing shamelessly. Nevertheless, I observe that pube chics obsession for Indians (fox & the sour grapes) and its fear of a stronger India are real ;)

  15. Pub Chick says:

    I am quite insulted that you think I am some random guy who can’t even type. Plus, I am also flattered you think I plagiarize.

    On balance, I guess I am.

  16. Fanatic_Hiindu says:

    ok, if anybody thinks I like pubchick, all I say is that, forget it. I’ve much better taste.

    Secondly, Pubchick thinks that he/she is the ulra-cool lady and us Hindu extremists dont have a sense of Humour, so, I’m giving him/her a taste of his/her own medicine.

    It is interesting that he/she chose not to respond to me. Shows how scared he/she is.

    Other guys, Dont take it seriously. Let us wait and see if Pubchick responds. I bet that he/she is too scared to do so, since, he/she met someone of him/her own size who can beat him/her in him/her own game.


  17. Ketan says:

    Oh dear Pub Chick, please don’t feel insulted. And even if you did, that was not the intent. It was implicit in my previous comment that those typos were deliberate on your part.

    To plagiarize would be to not just copy, but also claim that work to be originally one’s own?

    And why has Babu not yet responded expressing his feeling of shock/jubilation at finally being recognized for what he is?

  18. Fanatic_Hiindu says:

    I’m coming around to your view, Ketan. You might be right. Good deduction. Cheers

  19. BabuJadhav(Jai Shri Ram) says:

    @Fanatic_Hiindu @Ketan

    Biraders, ugly folks like you and me cannot be as beautiful like our Pub Chick. I doubt if you fully appreciate the beauty of Pub Chick.

    May be you need some daru or some paper bag(for pub chick) to see her Prettiness.

    rightnow I am busy and tired of typing from mobile phone. I will be remind you of contrasting differences in beauty of ugky folks like us hindus and beautiful people like Osama Zakir Naik and Pub Chick.

  20. Ketan says:


    Now I have become even more convinced that you are Pub Chick masquerading (hope, I got the spelling right!) as Babu. ;)

    The more you try to convince me otherwise, deeper will my suspicion get.


    Just a few days back Babu/Pub Chick and I had reached this conclusion that beauty lies in the eye of the beholder (at least Pub Chick did not contest this maxim).

    Truth is elective (not a typo). And, Pub Chick is spectacular.

  21. cynicalcount says:

    @ketan – Please stop trivialising. I didnt expect this from you. Let us all stop talking about this pubchick and discuss the issues related to the topic of this post by Offstumped. It is better to laugh at posts by pubchick rather than giving him/her any importance. Its like how media gives importance to non-entities and makes them larger than life. He/She is not worth even talking about and my request to you is to stop mentioning that nick. Thanks.

  22. BabuJadhav(Jai Shri Ram) says:

    Bhaiyon Naam Main Kya Rakha Hai, Bhavnao Ko Samjho.

    I am certainly not worthy enough to be compared to Pub Chik.

    Okay now, even I am tired of trolling a troll. And cynicalcount is right, this tool is not deserving of any more of our attention. Sadly I must admit my mistake for feeding this POS Pub Shit, I thought I will keep this character busy but this really affected the process of dialogue and debate.

    Centre-right shouldn’t be trivialized by such nonsensical exchange of intellectual excrete.

    I am sorry.

    @Pub Shit Hoe, before you work on me kindly work on your own arguments that were raised by you regarding.(Silence was pretty deafening and was an expose of your unmatched intellectual vanity) :-

    1) Why do you think that Bhalla is not an economist when _Dr._ Bhalla holds a PhD in Economics from _Princeton_ University.

    2) Why do you think he is not an _eminent_ economist, with his illustrious educational credentials :-

    ” Dr. Bhalla holds a PhD in Economics from Princeton University____, a Masters degree in Public Policy and International Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University and a Bachelors degree in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University”.”

    ========Occupational achievement :-=====================

    “”Dr. Surjit S. Bhalla is the Chairman of Oxus Investments. His profile provides Oxus with a powerful mix of fund management, and applied economic and policy research. His experience with premier policy institutes such as the Rand Corporation, the Brookings Institution and the World Bank offers useful input in formulating global macro strategies.

    Since 1991, Dr. Bhalla has been directly engaged in financial markets. Prior to establishing Oxus, he was Director and Chief Global Strategist, Emerging Markets Deutsche Bank; Vice President and Proprietary Trader Goldman Sachs; and Chief Investment Officer, World Bank. He has been a consultant/advisor to Warburg Pincus since 1998.”

    ========His contribution to academia :-==================

    “He is on the board of a major think tank (NCAER), as well as Gargi College, Delhi University. He has been a member of the Change and Prosperity program at The Aspen Institute since 2002. He is also a frequent contributor to media on issues related to government policy and financial markets. He is also the author of a widely read fortnightly column in leading financial newspapers.”

    Other than the numerous and well cited papers and books he have written, (learn to use Google Scholar and comprehend what comes on the screen before you. And please don’t blame the poor computer and the world, because the problem lies between your keyboard and the chair.)

    And lastly he is recognized by Media, Economic Institutions, Educational Institutions and Governmental Insinuations(and that to the very best / big / global ones at that)

    3) Alleged contradictions in post regarding NREGA

    Your fallacy have been well contradicted, either prove the refutation wrong or accept that you are a well established retard deserving of no attention.

    4) By your own measure of ascertaining ones eminence in particular field, Bhalla is very much eminent. You must agree that this establishes your lack of intellect.

    5) Why IYO is an Economist only limited to academic activities, why cannot IYO a person be considered eminent for expertise/work/achievement in the field of application of economics (which you are too ignorant to know that this field exist and is really the objective for the knowledge R&D by academia)

    6) You said something about his skills and how he is not very good at what he does, FYI in last 5 years his investments had higher returns than say HDFC/Reliance Growth/DSPBR/IDFC/Birla Sun life/Fiedelity Equity/ICICI Prudential/Tata Grown.

    Hell returning as good as the index is considered to be a very good investment (according to Buffet), but ROI on his investment were ~50% better than index.

    Hence in light of the stated facts it is very obvious that your contribution to this blog is :- SHUNYA, in fact a 10 year old kid can come up with better observations.

    So take my advise, but yourself out of misery as you are trying to hard to get attention in this world. Any further direct indirect requests for hand-holding and attention will be ignored.

    You can ask for attention from Psecs like Zakir Nalaiks and Osamas of the world who will join you in the mission of psecular eradication of ugly and horny non Psecular an non EvanJihadi-Psemitics.

    Ram Ram

  23. Pub Chick says:

    Excellent. Babu boy, you seem so convinced that Bhalla is an eminent economist. Now all that is left is to convince him he is one.

  24. Balaji says:

    right. identify the electorate. then find the ideology. excellent :-)

  25. Pub Chick says:

    Who is this Balaji? Another ugly mofo? Don’t we have enough already?

  26. Harsh Gupta says:

    @Pub Chick

    (this is my reply to your comments on the previous post, just in case you miss it I am posting it here too)

    I agree that Bhalla is not as eminent an economist as Milton Friedman was, say. But if an economist is someone who has an Economics PhD, then he is. But I think your definition is not bad either – must be writing papers etc – though I think many corporate economists might not be happy with that definition.

    In any case, I am genuinely glad that you are trying to find contradictions in center-right writings, and I see no reason to believe that you are anymore likely to be “paid” than anyone else who disagrees with a certain point of view (though avoiding the personal remarks would have helped)

    Now to address your main point about the NREGA:

    1. I do not think it is necessarily contradictory to say that “NREGA is a disaster” and that it gives a “false hope of safety”. I could allocate 10 units of money to a scheme, and if 2 reach the poor – such a scheme is a fiscal disaster by all reasonable standards, but for the people who did get the 2 units and the others who missed the dole but think that they may be the lucky ones the next time, it can give them a false sense of hope.

    2. You write “Bhalla is basically saying NREGA is a failure because it is not even good enough to use the fund it’s allotted” No, that is not what he is basically saying. He is saying that indeed some money does not even get spent, but a huge amount does not reach the poor post-spending. Of course, if you doubt this characterization of mine, read the online link and let me know what you think the main point is.

    (I do not believe that arguments should be on the basis of ethos, but just for your knowledge – I have worked on a NREGA project for MIT Poverty Action Lab in rural Rajasthan)

  27. Pub Chick says:


    I don’t agree with your definition of eminence, but that’s a quibble I am willing to live with. After all, some would say an Economist can’t be eminent by definition.

    Now, your 10-2 analogy assumes the person on the street is rather dumb. While I agree that person is not likely to be well informed, I am also reasonably sure that person understands the cost that reaching the units is likely to have. Intuitively, at that. Simply experience teaches them that. So I am not willing to believe without the program utilizing the allocation way more than the 2 of 10 units, it’s possible to achieve that false hope.

    In other words, my contention is this: the threshold of number of units that needs to be on ground for it to create any impression of a false safety net is greater than the abject numbers that will deem the program a certain failure in terms of basic execution.

    While the program may fail in several other ways and has — I contend this cannot be one.

  28. Harsh Gupta says:

    @Pub Chick

    Thanks for the detailed response.

    “In other words, my contention is this: the threshold of number of units that needs to be on ground for it to create any impression of a false safety net is greater than the abject numbers that will deem the program a certain failure in terms of basic execution.”

    I wish you were correct on this one (so many bad policies could be avoided if it were true!) but unfortunately the costs, at least in the short to mid term (borne by the average urban taxpayer) and the benefits (to the average poor villager, despite the 80-85% embezzlement) fall on different groups.

    Therefore, for many (not all) villagers the threshold “for hope” is almost zero – any money to them seems like free money, because they pay very little taxes.

    Again, I wish they would think like the way you think they do – and that I was wrong – but unfortunately my (admittedly limited field) experience shows otherwise.

  29. Pub Chick says:


    It has now come down to your contention based on experience on the ground which cannot be proven as theory versus mine based on theorizing from a pub which cannot be verified. So I will wait for numbers.

    I am however willing to stand by my contention unless numbers prove me otherwise. If you do go to the field next time, is there a way you can run a correlation analysis between the voting patterns and dole across constituencies that do and don’t have this implementation? Select a small sample and it need not be perfectly random even.

    PS: In my previous comment, by cost, I did not mean the cost of implementation and to the exchequer but to the person receiving the dole in terms of corruption, opportunity cost etc.

  30. offstumped says:

    That must be one intellectually stimulating Pub what are they playing – Floyd ?

  31. Ketan says:

    Pub Chick,

    Are you sure voting pattern would be the best surrogate indicator of whether NREGA implementation raised hopes or not?

    Even proper matching between voters of two constituencies would not be possible. I’m also surprised why you have eliminated the need of randomnization. If some ‘sephologists’ are to be believed, caste, religion, etc. have great influence on voting patterns.

    There would be other factors like who (union government v/s local contestant) would be able to lay claim to implementation of NREGA more successfully in the ‘test’ constituency (where it would be implemented).

    I do not think it is possible to quantify hope generated. In absence of numbers, one may remain skeptical, but to reject the analysis outrightly would not be wise.

    Harsh has a very valid point when he points out that hope generated would be greatly dependent on basal level expectations. If you want a practical (but not numerical) indicator for this, many of the farmers contemplate suicide, robbery, taking loans out of their desperation. That this is true is reflected by corresponding statistics. In light of such desperation getting work & wages for few days, or seeing a neighbor get them or compensation for not having work are very likely to raise hope.

    And to digress a bit, whether such hope was indeed generated or not would be best determined not by an economist, but maybe by a good conversationalist. :)

    In absence of numerical data, if your concern is author’s conflict of interest or introduction of personal biases or deliberate distortion of information in declaring “hope was generated/not generated”, then your point is quite valid. But yet it would not make a case for rejection of conclusions presented if they make intuitive sense.

  32. Harsh Gupta says:

    @Pub Chick

    A minor quibble on this:

    “It has now come down to your contention based on experience on the ground which cannot be proven as theory versus mine based on theorizing from a pub which cannot be verified.”

    While you have every right to be confident of your a priori thinking, and indeed there is no water-tight proof against it, it is incorrect to represent my point as being based only on experience.

    My point based on experience is regarding my observations of how they think which is contrary to what you think they will think.

    But I too had an a priori point that since the costs and benefits in the short term fall mostly on different groups, the threshold of hope is almost zero – and if this theory is correct, irrespective of my experience, then your contention is not true.

  33. Pub Chick says:

    Yes, I agree with that Harsh and I had discounted your a priori thought simply because I don’t agree with it unless proven otherwise with an empiricist approach. That’s a price I am willing to pay.

    Ketan, I don’t want to tell you how you are not correct when someone who has won a Fields Medal does that a lot better.

  34. Ketan says:

    Pub Chick,

    In my previous comment I had said many things, but you did not point out, which of them were found incorrect by you.

    I’m not adept at such rigorous logic as the article you had directed me to dealt with. What I could gather from that is that author has concluded that proof by contradiction is necessary when one is trying to prove a negative.

    But the entire article had dealt with, if not the countable, at least quantifiable (how much), that was beyond the nominal (present/absent) & much worse, an abstract quantity – hope. Hope is either raised (present) or not raised (absent). Much larger issue is how do you determine whether it’s raised or not, which you have not tried to answer to my satisfaction, nor does the article you linked.

    One more thing in that article that could be remotely pertinent to current discussion is that an assertion maybe negative or positive depending upon how the quantity being studied is quoted. In current analysis, “hope was raised” would be positive assertion, but can be converted to a negative simply by stating, “hope did not remain at same level”. But on the other hand, first burden of proof also lies on one making a positive assertion. What is positive assertion – “hope was raised” or “hope remained at the same level”?

    The article did not answer how does one detect changes in level of hope. So largely, I found it a digression from what were currently discussing.

    For practical purposes, “pain” exists. There is an entire industry directed at relieving/reducing pain. But both its existence & relief have only one mechanism for acknowledging – the testimony of one claiming to suffer from it. Is acceptance of this testimony in line with empirical approach? One’s answer would conveniently depend on what one has set out to prove.

    I hope you get the analogy. If you consider acceptance of subjects’ testimony as nonempirical, you should point out what other method can detect change in hope empirically.

    You had suggested voting, but I also pointed out, change in level of hope is not the only variable that determines who is voted. If you want this ‘negative’ assertion proved by me, then I do not have resources, and finally it might not be possible, too, but I would remind that you yourself have not yet empirically proved the positive assertion that “hope generated affects voting”. Has eminent expert proved this?

  35. Pub Chick says:

    Ketan, you miss the point completely. This is not a forum to teach Statistics & Random Variables and how argumentation based on possible correlation is affected by choice of random variables. Will do that elsewhere.

  36. Ketan says:

    Pub Chick,

    What is it that you wanted me to learn from the article you had linked?

  37. Ketan says:

    Pub Chick,

    Also, are claiming to be in position to teach things as varied as statistics, English grammar, skin care and getting over horniness? This is not a rhetorical question because otherwise you would ask me for proving the negative by contradiction, which I am incapable of doing! ;)

  38. Harsh Gupta says:

    ” I don’t agree with it unless proven otherwise with an empiricist approach.”

    Fair enough.

    But my a priori assertion states its assumptions and deductions clearly – 1. one group benefits (despite 85 percent embezzlement) in the short run, one group pays in the long run, and 2. hence the group that benefits in the short run needs anything above zero benefits to have hope from the relevant scheme.

    But your a priori statement – “that threshold of hope has to be higher than current disbursals according to Bhalla” has not been fleshed out with any reasoning on this forum, unless I missed it out (in which case my apologies).

    If you could do so, it will move your statement from an assertion to something self-coherent – of course, the caveat being that your assertion could well be empirically right without stating your axioms and consequent deductions.

  39. [...] the rest here:  Targeting Middle India – Socio-economic Engineering Part 3 … Politics ADD COMMENTS You can leave a response, or trackback from your own [...]

  40. [...] one thing is certain Bihar is no Gujarat. It is far too early to think of socio-economic engineering in Bihar for Social Engineering has not entirely run its course. Nitish Kumar’s lasting political [...]

  41. [...] Back in 2009, in the aftermath of the Lok Sabha defeat of the BJP in a three part series of blogs, this columnist argued for displacing “Social Engineering” with “Socio-Economic Engineering” for the Center Right to reclaim the dominant political narrative using the twin constructs of the “Ladder of Opportunity” and the “Safety of the Net” to better target the neo Middle Class. [...]

  42. [...] – 3 part blog series from 2009 on Socio-Economic Engineering, Ladder of Opportunity and the neo Middle Class [...]

  43. [...] Back in 2009 in the aftermath of the Lok Sabha defeat of the BJP in a three part series of blogs, this columnist argued for displacing “Social Engineering” with “Socio-Economic Engineering” for the Center Right to reclaim the dominant political narrative using the twin constructs of the “Ladder of Opportunity” and the “Safety of the Net” to better target the neo Middle Class. [...]

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