India: A Superpower in the Making?
India is a fascinating land with vivid history and heritage. Its culture is one of the oldest known to humanity. India is a place rich in customs, traditions, values and beliefs where people preach and practice different religions, speak various languages and yet it is the largest successful democracy in the world. It sets an example by projecting a country so diverse and yet so unified. The world sees India as the land of gods, the origin of yoga, famous for temples and spiritual enlightenment along with the food, the festivals, jewelry, train travels, slums, cultural dance and Bollywood celebrities. It seems counterintuitive that a nation that is identified as “A poor country with rich culture,” can be the fastest growing economy in the world, leading in the fields of Information Technology, Agriculture, Infrastructure, Education etc and can be seen as the most prominent superpower of the future.
Superpower nation possesses the ability to dominate and influence global affairs/events and project its power on a global scale. However, in-order to be a superpower the nation is obliged to fit certain criteria. Firstly, it must have a strong and stable political system. Secondly, it must be a consistently growing economy and last but not the least, it should be able to manage its population providing them with diverse opportunities, world class facilities, producing efficient and highly trained manpower. It must also have high level of technical expertise, cultural unity, along with exceptional military and armed forces. Ever since the disintegration of the soviet union, America has been the only country fulfilling these criteria’s and hence influencing the world by utilizing its superpower stature. However, with the changing economies, political system and foreign relations, more and more countries are becoming powerful and have started influencing the international affairs. Thus, with the rise of different countries there has been rise in the speculation of the next projected superpower nation.
Based upon the economic potential, market size, military strength and influence in science, innovation and global affairs; China, The European Union, India and Russia are the most speculated contenders for supremacy. But from this list the country that has managed to create a turmoil among the critics is India. India surely has come by a surprise to everyone by joining the race of the fastest growing economies of the world after just 60 years of independence. It is even ready to outpace Chinese economy in the preceding years. Tim Worstall in a Forbes article, “India to be the world’s fastest growing economy: keeping it going will be the difficult trick” quoted, “India is forecast to become the fastest growing large economy in the world, surpassing that of China. Figures to be released by the Central Statistics Office are expected to confirm the country grew by 7.3 % from October to December, while China grew 6.8% in the same period.” Economic Survey 2016, suggested that India is expected to accelerate to 8-10% in terms of growth-rate in next 2-5 years. Anthony Fensom in, “China, India To Lead World By 2050,” highlighted that, “Both the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank expect India to overtake China as the world’s fastest growing major economy in 2016.” Thus there is no doubt India will be a leading economy in the future and is a strong contender for Superpower.
Information Technology has played a major role in India’s Economy and GDP growth. It has increased its contribution to the GDP from 1.2% in 1998 to 7.5% in 2012. The country is home to more than 8000 digital firms; Tata, Infosys, Wipro, Oracle are few examples of those. India is a hot spot for new startups and is currently home to more than 4000 startup companies. It is redefining India’s innovation and growth capabilities. India has high skilled and trained technical manpower and is attracting tech-entrepreneurs by offering high quality, reliable and cost-effective services and that too at a steady rate. According to statistics, the IT industry in India has created 3 million direct employment opportunities in 2012/13. “India has become the worlds largest sourcing destination in the IT industry, accounting for approximately 67 per cent of the US$ 124-130 billion market” reported in Indian Brand Equity Foundation article. The article also stated that “The sector is also expected to triple its current annual revenue to reach US$ 350 billion by FY 2025.” The IT sector in India is also attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). As per the data released by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), The computer software and hardware sector in India attracted cumulative Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows worth US$ 21.02 billion between April 2000 and March 2016. Thus, India has surely become the leading exporter of IT services in the world.
However, despite of having the fastest growing IT industry in the world India hasn’t been successful in providing its people with easy and affordable 24/7 digital connection. A article published in Times of India, “World Bank says India faces stark digital divide.” reported, “India has the biggest offline population of any country,World Bank economists said at the India launch of the World Development Report 2016, Digital Dividends.” According to which nearly a billion of the population has no internet access. Vast number of people in rural India don’t know how to use a smartphone or a computer and don’t have access to it. If India wants to be a superpower it will have to eradicate this digital gap between the rural and the urban India. To solve this problem the government of India has launched many initiatives like; Digital India Program which aims to provide the government services to people using IT, Digital literacy program which aims to train Indians over the next three years to empower them with digital knowledge, US and India have also collaborated and launched the ‘Digital India Initiative’ in-order to digitalize India. The Railways of India got a digital push with the inclusion of bar-coded tickets, GPS systems, wifi facilities etc. The cities are transforming into smart cities because of such initiatives and the villages are catching up as well. This definitely increases the chances of India in becoming the superpower.
Another important sector contributing majorly in Indian Economy is Agriculture. Agriculture along with fisheries and forestry, is one of the largest contributors to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) accounting for 13.7%. It is also a large and mostly the only source of income in majority of Indian villages. According to IBEF, “In India over 58 per cent of the rural households depend on agriculture as their principal means of livelihood.” India is the largest exporter of fruits, vegetables and species. The Green Revolution made India the second largest producer of wheat, rice, sugarcane, cotton, groundnuts and the largest producer of milk, jute and pulses. As per a USDA report ,”India became the world’s seventh-largest exporter of agricultural products in 2013, surpassing Australia with exports climbing from just over $5 billion in 2003 to a record of more than $39 billion in 2013.” Even though agriculture plays such a crucial part in Indian economy, the farmers that cultivate agriculture don’t get enough credit and enough money to live a decent life and hence each day more and more farmers are opting out of farming and moving to cities. Rukmini Shrinivasan in, “Farmer population falls by 9 million in 10 years” highlights that, “There are now nearly 9 million fewer farmers than there were in 2001, the first time in four decades that the absolute number of cultivators has fallen.” If this trend continues then there are great chances of slow down of the Indian economy and it might never be a superpower.
Scarcity of water, Infertile land and lack of infrastructure in the agricultural sector, illiteracy, lack of awareness of the development in the field of agriculture, lack of transparency among the government agriculture officers and the farmers, inadequate finances and government policies, poor socio-economic background of farmers, soil erosion, lack of adequate storage facilities are the reasons why farmers are opting out of farming. The problems are so severe that farmers are opting suicide. Farmer suicides have occurred at a rate of 1.4 to 1.8 per 100,000 total population, over a 10-year period since 2005. This can be a serious concern for India because agriculture is the backbone of the Indian economy. If the economy falls then the whole growth of the whole country is doomed. To stop this, the Indian government has launched various programs for the benefit and betterment of the farmers. The government announced 70% Cut in Monsanto’s Royalties, which will cut Monsato’s monopoly of cotton seeds. The Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana launched in 2015 will focus on Micro-irrigation projects and end-to-end irrigation solutions. The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Beema Yojna (Crop Insurance for Farmers) aims to give 50% crop insurance to farmers. The government also launched Soil Health Card in 2015 which carry crop-wise recommendations of nutrients and fertilizers required for the individual farms to help farmers to improve productivity through proper use of inputs. These programs will help lower the ratio of farmer suicides in the coming years and India might succeed in saving its agriculture and its economy.
Corruption is one of the severe problems India has been facing. As per the World Corruption Audit conducted in 2015, India ranked 65th out of the 150 democratic nations. Almost every person in India has been asked to pay the bribe at-least once in their lifetime. According to the Indian Corruption Study 2005, “Common citizens of the country pay a bribe of Rs. 21,068 crores while availing one or more of the eleven public services in a year.” Lack of transparency in the public sector, poor tax regulation and licensing policies can be considered the root causes of corruption in India. Bribing a public servant to get the work done quickly has been a common ritual there and Indians have somewhat gotten used to it. However, an Anti-corruption campaign led by Anna Hazare in 2011 has been an eyeopener for both the government and the citizens. Ten’s of thousands of citizens joined the movement forcing the government to pass a new Anti-Corruption bill (Lokpal Bill) in the Parliament. In 2015, to fight against corruption; The Prime Minister of India took a drastic step and announced the demonetization of the rupee to control tax invasion and eradicate black money from the country. Such movement proves that efforts made in the present can help India to be the superpower in the future.
Managing its 1.2 billion population is another major concern for India. Growing population is considered the biggest hindrance in a country’s growth and India is the second most populous country in the world after china. To be a superpower, the nation should be able to manage its man power and resources and distribute them evenly. But, because of the enormous population, it has been tough for India to maintain the balance. However, due to various population control campaigns and increase in the number of educated people, a slight decline in the growth rate has been observed. Rema Nagrajan in her article, “The Myth of India’s population explosion,” stated “India’s total fertility rate — a measure of the number of children born to a woman during her lifetime — was down from 5.9 in 1951 to 2.3 in 2011.” If India successes in stabilizing its population then it has good chances of being the superpower.
India is recognized all over the world for producing world renowned scientists, engineers, doctors, writers and philosophers. Indian’s are leading in the field of science and innovation. However, India hasn’t been able to provide best educational facilities to its students. India has very few world renowned institutions and because of the large population, there is a great competition to get into these institutions and the fees of such institutions are also quite hefty. Due to which large number of Indian students chose abroad over India for gaining higher education and technical expertise and due to which India lose its talented and ambitious population. Dhanya Thomas in his article, “Brain drain: Boon for developed countries, but bane for India” reported, “A recent study conducted by Indian Institute of Management- Bangalore (IIM-B) shows that the students going for higher studies abroad has increased by 256% in the last 10 years. When 53,000 Indian students went abroad for higher studies in 2000, the figure shot up to 1.9 lakh in 2010.” However this trend of brain drain is slowly changing and the new trend of reverse brain drain has begun. India is one of the first countries to observe reverse brain drain where people of the developed countries move to the less developed countries. This mainly depends on the country’s development and policies developed to attract foreign immigrants. Indian economy and its development in Information Technology and Infrastructure has lured a lot of its population back into the country and along with that is also attracting foreign immigrants. The Indian government has launched programs to fasten the process of reverse brain drain. Skill India Initiative is one of such initiatives launched by Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi; which aims at training 400 million citizens by 2022 that would enable them to find jobs. India and Australia have also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to boost partnerships between the two countries in the fields of higher education and research, including technical and professional education, schools, vocational education and training. Strengthening its education system and providing its citizens with educational facilities and equal opportunities can help India become a superpower.
India has managed to become the pioneer in the fields of Information Technology, Agriculture and Education and has managed to significantly reduce corruption and poverty. The progress made by India is tremendous. It already has a strong military, armed forces and nuclear weapons and is constantly developing. It is the largest exporter of goods in the world. India is collaborating with foreign countries and making advances in space and technology as well. It has excellent and skilled manpower. India also has strong government and political system and it is observed by the programs launched by the government to develop India and the pace at which India is developing. Moreover, India also maintains good relations with other countries, has strong foreign policies and stands a strong position in International affairs. If India continues its global presence and participation then it might soon become a member of the United Nations in the coming years. From evidences, it can be observed that India possesses immense amount of potential and caliber to be the superpower.
However, if India really wants to be a superpower, it will have to start with focusing on establishing regional and cultural peace within the country, establishing peace with its neighboring countries and enhancing its trade policies. India will also have to bring an end to female foeticide, to maintain gender ratio. India will also have to develop its healthcare sector and provide its citizens with affordable medicare and health insurances. It will have to put a control on population explosion before it overtakes china. It should also take the benefit of the declining Chinese economy and quickly overtake as the biggest economy in the world. It should put an end to communal violence and religious disputes. In the coming years India should be able to provide its citizens with basic necessities, equal and diverse opportunities, and try reduce the unemployment rate.
The World Wars and many other Cultural, Demographic and Geographic conditions have crumbled the superpower nations of the past and continues to crumble the current contenders. It’s difficult for countries to get back on their knees or fight against their problems. The U.S. has never observed massive industrial destruction or civilian casualties unlike Europe or Asia. Post War it has been able to build up a strong industrial and technological infrastructure, advanced military strength which is the strongest in the world and has managed to retain it since. Other countries have a great potential in being the superpower but their problems are way more drastic and impossible to overcome. However, over time India has constantly proved that nothing is impossible if the people and the government of the nation unite and work together. Together they can overcome challenges and eradicate the problems.
To conclude, India can be a Superpower if it utilizes its man force and makes a unified effort with the government to bring the change.
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