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From the Editor

The evidence for this decade being India's best matters less than the reasons for it. Because while the first decade of 21st century has surely been India's best, the next is likely to be even better.

How can a decade that began with the dotcom bust and 9/11 and ended with a global meltdown be India's best ever? If this issue's cover makes you wonder so, answer three simple questions:

  • Hasn't your and your family's income risen faster in this decade (2000-09) than in any previous one?
  • Haven't the choices for almost everything you need-from food to housing to investment schemes-grown faster in this decade than ever?
  • Aren't there more opportunities (domestic and global) to grow a business, and grow it faster than in any previous decade?

In producing this special issue, we have sifted through enough data, analysis and opinion to conclude that the answer to these questions is a "Yes" in the case of an overwhelming majority of urban middle class Indians. The conclusion is true for all Indians, it's just that the quantum of benefit varied across classes with urban middle classes grabbing the most.

The evidence for this decade being India's best matters less than the reasons for it. Because while the first decade of 21st century has surely been India's best, the next is likely to be even better. And that is just as well because one good decade is not enough to solve India's economic problems and help Indians attain the level of prosperity and welfare that they deserve.

In a nutshell, the following ingredients worked in favour of the Indian economy in the last decade or so: Manpower (younger and more productive than in the past), money (to fund investment as well as consumption), confidence (that efforts or investment will yield good returns) and competition (tougher and ever-intensifying). These factors will be at work in the next decade, too, and with some deft government oversight and intervention, can deliver even higher growth and prosperity. This is the central message of a series of special features in this issue, which range from boardrooms to Bollywood, from macro trends to microfinance.

What's the fun of reviewing the past and the present without indulging in some crystal-gazing? All our stories provide some definitive pointers to the future. To understand these pointers better, keep the following directions in mind:

  • Markets will replace the government as the accepted determinant of our economic destiny across all strata of the economy.
  • Inequalities will grow because markets promote efficiency, not equity. Smarter government interventions can help manage inequalities.
  • Demand will continue to outstrip supply for most basic infrastructure- ranging from education to transport to water.

Happy New Decade.