The curious and free-spending domestic traveler like Roy, says Amitabh Kant, an Indian development official who wrote the book "Branding India: An Incredible Story," is an "economic savior" for India. And, to boot, Mr. Kant says, middle-class Indians are a powerful market abroad, now outspending Americans in London, for example, by 10 percent.
The "Incredible India" surprise is part of a surge of prosperity that is rapidly expanding the world's middle classes. By 2030, the global middle class is widely projected to at least double in size to as many as 5 billion – a surge unseen since the Industrial Revolution. This boom, however, is more global, more rapid, and is likely to have a far different – and perhaps far greater – impact in terms of global power, economics, and environment, say economists and sociologists.
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"This dwarfs even the 19th-century middle class explosion in its global scale," noted economists Dominic Wilson and Raluca Dragusanu in a 2009 Goldman Sachs report. And they predicted, "the pace of expansion ... is likely to pick up."