Thursday, July 06, 2006

India Rising

India is one of the most exciting places on earth right now.

Val MacQueen, writing at Tech Central Station, notes:

In the mid-1980s, India's middle class comprised just 10 percent of the population. Today, it's larger than the entire population of the United States and is predicted to grow to 445 million by the end of this decade. For 70 years, Mohandas Gandhi's myopic vision of backward-looking socialism as a template for national advancement was accepted as revealed wisdom by a string of Indian prime ministers, starting with his acolyte, Nehru. Despite a plenitude of cotton, Gandhi didn't think India should create a cotton industry, believing instead that every family should own a spinning wheel and spin its own. He didn't believe India should develop a manufacturing base, which not only caused the dead hand of "import substitution" to smother native initiative, but the failure to develop factories meant there was also a failure to develop infrastructure like roads and ports to take goods to market.

Now at last, riding on a new surge of confidence at home and overseas, Indians have ditched austerity, the spinning wheel and the Mahatma and are spending it up like maharajas. In a recent survey, 90 percent of them cheerfully admitted that they spend their disposable income on non-essentials.

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