India has made encouraging progress in reducing its official poverty rate from 45 percent of the population in 1994 to just 22 percent in 2012. This is an achievement to be celebrated—and yet escaping abject poverty is often not sufficient to achieve an adequate and sustainable quality of life. Even a cursory scan of human development indicators suggests that India’s people face significant and widespread deprivation on multiple fronts. But today the nation has an opportunity to set higher aspirations to help more than half a billion people attain a more economically empowered life. To realize this vision, policy makers need a holistic benchmark to measure the gaps that must be closed and better allocate resources. To this end, the McKinsey Global Institute has created the Empowerment Line, a new analytical framework that determines the level of consumption required for an individual to fulfill eight basic needs (food, energy, housing, drinking water, sanitation, health care, education, and social security) at a level sufficient to achieve a decent if modest standard of living.