Societies operate on simultaneous tiers segregated by economic access. While developed economies and global economic frameworks split economic access into lower, middle and upper tiers, a developing economy like India houses at least seven coexisting ecosystems. The reach of an affluent Indian family before free-market liberalization, while constant in absolute terms, is drastically eclipsed in relative terms by individuals productive on the global stage. The new CEOs and professionals of India leveraging the flat world have capped on a totally new degree of wealth on top of the old stratification.
However, it is important to note that in nepotistic India, crony relationships hold a significant gravity of power compared to the developed world. Here in Machur, for example, villagers will only listen to instructions from a particular individual due to his quasi-political clout even though he is not responsible for their material well being.
Tiers in India operate fairly exclusively—eating at different restaurants, different transportation, different leisure—touching only at the watering holes of the global economy such as train stations and gas stations. By stepping into a different tier you enter a completely different world. It is not only the same purchase that takes on a different dimension, but the same distances, the same life events.
Global development frames affluence as investment potential—how much money the individual can inject into an economy via GDP per capita—what it really should be considering is divestment potential—how many services the individual can extract from the economy. If the same service can be provided at a lower cost, it is accessible to more tiers and affluence has increased.
What are the core services that represent the gatekeepers to stepping up on the affluence ladder?