In 1981, India’s middle class was about 8 percent of the population, or 65 million people. Today, the middle class is believed to number 25 percent of the population, or more than 250 million people. Das and others predict it could exceed 500 million people by the year 2020.
Foreign direct investment is at $5.5 billion, up from $100 million in the early 1990s. Indian expatriates, according to one study, have sent more than $24 billion in remittances home annually in recent years, more than any other national group does.
Consumer spending is skyrocketing. Annual car sales have leaped from 150,000 in 1991 to more than 1 million today. India’s airline industry, which was one of the first to be deregulated in 1991, has gone from one state-owned airline to eight competing carriers. Passenger traffic is expected to grow by 20 percent annually over the next five years.
Given India’s position between a nuclear Pakistan and an ambitious China, all to the good.