The Moment

Davide Monteleone / Contrasto / Redux

India's middle classes are swelling in number — but so are the ranks of the country's destitute

Visit an Indian slum and you'll often find spotless floors, gleaming pots and clean school uniforms hanging from the wall. The inhabitants have food, a roof and the means to educate their children. Those are the indicators India has often used to distinguish the merely hard up from the truly poor — an underclass that was reckoned at 27.5% of the 1.1 billion population. Activists have long ridiculed the figure as a gross underestimate, and indeed it was. A revision by India's Planning Commission has just added 100 million to the ranks of the impoverished, pushing the proportion to...

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