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As the economies of other nations shrink (hello, U.S.A.), India is growing — thanks largely to expansion in the country’s rural states. “Growth has slowed in the new India of technology outsourcing, property development and securities trade,” writes Wall Street Journal reporter Peter Wonacott.  “But old India — the rural sector that is home to 700 million of the country’s billion-plus people — shows signs it can pick up the slack. The rural awakening helps explain why India continues to grow even as the U.S. recession drags on the world economy.”

Coca-Cola says its growth in India is led by rural markets. Ditto with LG Electronics. A car maker (Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd.) says it can’t keep up with demand from rural India. What’s supporting rural India during a worldwide downturn? Tariffs, according to the Journal. High tariffs on agricultural imports have “sheltered swaths of the country.” 

The Indian government has invested in these rural regions. And children there now expect to go to school. Agriculture is getting more mechanized. Crops that once rotted in storage, unable to reach markets, are now sold. Areas where rural Indians once caught rats to eat now expect their children to use computers. One rural Indian crowd (in Dev Kuli, marked above) chanted: “We want to learn to use a computer mouse, not catch mice.”

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