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Special: Rise of India's middle class

Jan 15, 2007 10:03 AM IST India India
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The Justice for Jessica campaign, the battle for a long overdue judgement in the Priyadarshani Mattoo case,a strong Right To Information campaign, CNN-IBN's citizen journalists - India's middle class has amply proved over the past year that it is up and running for causes that matter.

Be it running around for radical reform, lighting candles for justice or garnering support for a long-term change, the great Indian middle class has been there and done it to all. CNN-IBN celebrates the spirit of the middle-class activism in a special series -
The Rise Of The Radical Middle.

New Delhi: Once considered apathetic, laid back and passive, India’s middle class today fights not only its own battles but is also pro-active enough to register its protest for every just cause.

In the first installment of the series, CNN-IBN meets the families of Sashinath Jha - the man kidnapped and murdered on the behest of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha leader Shibu Soren - and Nitish Katara – the student who was allegedly killed by politician D P Yadav’s son Vikas.


Jha’s mother Priyamvada Jha comes across as a fiery and confident woman. But a fire-brand of today was just another housewife, who used to keep with busy with her cooking and her religious engagements.

But life changed irreversibly for her when her son Sashinath was kidnapped and murdered. While most would have blamed fate and struggled to live on, Priyamvada decided to fight for justice.

“Why and whom to fear? If there are people to support evil there are good people too. I went to everyone from police to ministers to bureaucrats, but obviously no one listened. They were all hand in glove,” she says.
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Priyamvada's 12-year-long struggle meant that the union minister is now behind bars.

She is determined to fight on if he approaches a higher court, a spirit which has inspired an entire generation.

"Because of our successful struggle, even the man on the street knows that justice is not beyond their reach,” says Priyamvada’s daughter, Kavita.

Similar is the case of another mother. Neelam Katara too was an anonymous academic, a doting mother and a muse for her photographer husband.

"I was very pampered with three men always there to protect me,” she says.

But life changed when Nitish got murdered and the beloved wife and mother became court room activist, struggling against all odds.

“Nitish had told me I would be very sad to know that my mother did not fight, and his word keeps me going even today,” she says.

Priyamvada Jha and Neelam Katara are ordinary people for whom grief became a source of strength.

They chose to leave the confines of a protected household and fight for justice, blazing a trail of courage for the reawakening of the great Indian middle class.

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