The growing middle class is the face of the Indian upswing. Excellently trained, ready to perform and happy to consume, the young social climbers liberate themselves from the burden of the past. But what do they believe in? What do they dream about? What keeps them going?
These are the opening lines for the feature about the growing middle class in India, written by Sebastian Matthes and published by the German business weekly WirtschaftsWoche. I was just informed that the feature is nominated for a CNN award, which made me very happy naturally, only that unfortunately I have not been able to read it as I do not speak German!
Never the less, I find the Indian middle class a very interesting subject to document, and I enjoyed traveling and shooting. As in many cases, the magazine does not always choose to publish the same images as the photographer would consider as his first choice, so I am attaching some of my options here. I think it gives a nice perspective on the process of work on such editorial assignments. The pictures where taken in the span of three days in five cities in India, Chennai, Bangalore, Gurgaon, Delhi, and Noida.
Ramya Chandrasekaran, 30, PR Manager at a local bar in Chennai. “My present life would have been unthinkable in India two decades ago”. Ramya Chandrasekaran regularly commutes between Malaysia, Bangalore and Chennai, and has friends who live all over the world. She is very proud of her being independent: “We are children of a new, exciting time.”
Saurabh Adeep (30) is a software engineer with a degree from a good college, and several years of professional experience. People like him are in great demand in India. In six years his salary grew almost tenfold. First, he covered himself with brand clothes, and bought watches and expensive accessories for his motorcycle. Today, all that is not important for him anymore. He wants to get ahead professionally, do an MBA and acquire international experience. (next to the Motorola building at a Bangalore industrial park)
Bonita Vaz, 27, designer at her home in Delhi. Raised in a working class family managed to they leap into the modern Indian Elite upper education. Since her studies at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad Bonita Vaz is one of the most sought after creative directors across the country. She works for magazines and agencies and lives with her friend Jofree Shimray in Delhi.
Sarath Babu, 29, Entrepreneur, next to a mask against evil eye in the Chennai slum where he lives with his mother. In earlier times people like him would live their life in the shadow of a heavy stigma. He comes from a slum in the eastern Indian city of Chennai, and worse, he was born to a low caste family. But he has worked obsessively, passed the entrance test to India’s most prestigious Indian Institute of Management. After graduation he has received many high-paying job offers but decided to go back to the slum and open his own catering business in university campuses across the country. He now employs more than two hundred people.
Text by Sebastian Matthes, Photography by Sephi Bergerson, published by the German business weekly WirtschaftsWoche