406 For almost a half century since its independence in 1947, India’s image abroad and reality at home had been the same, namely, of stark poverty afflicting its half-million villages, sending droves of peasants to live on the pavements and in the slums of its bursting metropolitan cities. That image has altered dramatically since the late 1990s and more so in the twenty-first century. India and China, two demographic billionaires and sleeping giants, have emerged as the world’s fastest growing economies....If India’s socialist-oriented economy of the first period had failed to help nearly one-half of its burgeoning population make ends meet, the second period holds a hope that the billion-plus population will achieve an economic standard beyond the wildest dreams of its people. Will that really happen? That is the question not only for economists and politicians but, more important, for “the revolution of rising expectations” among India’s population that accounts for one-sixth of the human race. (page 407)