Who exactly are the middle classes in India? What role do they play in contemporary Indian politics and society, and what are their historical and cultural moorings? The authors of this volume argue that the middle class has largely been understood as an income/ economic category, but the termhas a broader social and conceptual history, globally as well as in India. To begin with, the middle class is not a homogeneous category but is shaped by specific colonial and post-colonial experiences and is differentiated by caste, ethnicity, region, religion, and gender locations. These socio-economic differentiations shape its politics and culture and become the basisof internal conflicts, contestations, and divergent political worldviews. The authors demonstrate how the middle class has acquired a certain legitimacy to speak on behalf of the society as a whole, despite its politics being inherently exclusionary, as it tries to protect its own interests.Further, perceived as an aspirational category, the middle class has a seductive charm for the lower classes, who struggle to shift to this ever elusive social location.