India’s remarkable growth has led to phenomenal wealth creation and a burgeoning middle class. However, the growth has yet to reach the 85% of the population that lives on less than US $1 a day – representing not only a development chasm but also, paradoxically, a huge market opportunity. Already, diversified corporations such as ITC and Hindustan Unilever create products priced to all but the neediest consumers. Meanwhile, one of the world’s lowest telephone tariff rates – US$ 0.02 per minute for calls and US$ 0.01 per text message – enables mobile telecommunications providers to sign up millions of new subscribers each month.

But the challenge, say corporate and social leaders, is empowering the poor of India by providing basic necessities such as shelter, education, health and jobs and, in doing so, unlocking a US$ 173 billion market.

World Economic Forum briefing memo on the 2007 India Economic Forum meeting I attended.

John Hope Bryant

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