India 2039: An Affluent Society in One Generation

This book provides a perspective on where India could be in the year 2039 if it maintains similar economic growth rates as it has experienced recently. In addition to emphasizing the virtuous cycle between growth and poverty reduction, the book outlines the salient challenges that India must overcome to achieve this end. These challenges include:


  • Addressing structural inequalities that lie at the core of poverty and exclusion of the most vulnerable groups
  • Provision of quality social (education and health) and infrastructure services to rural and urban populations
  • Ensuring an improved environment—clean air, clean water and sanitation etc.
  • Launching an Energy revolution, also with a view to reducing the economy’s carbon intensity
  • Overcoming Infrastructure (including power) bottlenecks
  • Improving the quality of education and access to secondary and tertiary education
  • Fostering Innovation
  • Improving the business environment including to foster entrepreneurship and innovation
  • Assistance to less well-off neighboring countries
  • Taking on the role of a responsible global citizen


The book proposes that India could be one of the top three global economic powers in 30 years, by presenting a persuasive case that if India succeeds in sustaining its recent economic success over the longer term (as many East Asian economies have done in the past), India can realistically aspire to become an affluent society—with a GDP per capita of $22,000 (PPP terms and no poor people–within one generation.


India 2039 provides a description and analysis of alternative scenarios of India’s long term growth between 2009 and 2039. It drew lessons from other successful developing countries for India and identified the key multi-generation issues that need priority attention to allow India to continue its recent progress. The book assesses the many hurdles – political, social, policy and institutional – that India must overcome to realize this vision and lift millions of Indians from relative poverty today to enjoy the fruits of a modern and inclusive affluent society within 30 years. It provides an agenda of inter generational issues that are central to India avoiding the middle income trap—where countries stagnate at middle income levels and are unable to achieve high income status– that so many other countries have fallen into. The recommendations also emphasized a pro-active stance on the climate change agenda, indicating that this would be in India’s self-interest.

In addition, the authors provide recommendations on the measures required to enhance India’s global competitiveness based on improving the business environment, strengthening innovation and entrepreneurship, and building the required physical, technological and information infrastructure. Importantly, the recommendations also covered cross-cutting issues such as:

  • Improving governance at the national level, state level and municipal level
  • Reform of the bureaucracy/civil service
  • Judicial and police reforms
  • Improved delivery of social services
  • Measures to address structural inequities, such as those based on identity (ethnic and religious differences) that affect the most vulnerable populations

For over two decades, India’s economic development has gathered impressive momentum, and looking beyond the short-term impact of the current worldwide crisis, this book explains how a continued high savings rate combined with far reaching institutional changes can lead almost 1.5 billion people to real prosperity—equivalent to, say, Portugal today. The recommendations of the book were discussed with senior level policy-makers (including from the National Planning Commission) as well as a number of private sector executives at a 2-day forum in Mumbai, and shared with all Members of India’s parliament.

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