Happy New Decade, India

India's Deciding Decade. The 10 years that start tomorrow can end with India becoming a different country, where mass prosperity is taken for granted. Or it can become a country where much changes radically — but many problems persist.

The Indian Express-Indicus Analytics study on how India will look in 2020 has a remarkable finding: even if no reforms happen, India's GDP can grow at an average annual rate of 9.6 per cent for the next 10 years.

Nine per cent growth for 10 years with no reforms — that's how well-placed India is as 2010 begins.

But if there are no reforms, and growth is 9 per cent-plus, more than 250 million people, of a total population of 1.3 billion-plus, will still be very poor in 2020. And not even 100 million Indians will be graduates or post-graduates.

With rapid reform, these bad numbers can change dramatically. So 2010-2020 is the deciding decade because India starts it with the most advantageous conditions it's ever had in its post-Independence history to effect a real paradigm shift.

The Indian Express-Indicus study crunched all sorts of numbers to take a call on the future.

These are the headline good numbers by 2020.

* Even if no significant reforms happen, per capita income will grow at an average of 8% per year. Incomes will be almost double compared to now.

* Fifty million more households in India will join the ranks of the middle class — defined by those earning between Rs 75,000 a year to Rs 10 lakh a year.

* The households-in-middle class number will jump from less than 120 million now to almost 170 million. Taking the accepted multiple of five people per household, this means that roughly 800 million Indians will be middle class out of an end-of-decade population of 1.3-plus billion.

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