A country that has the capacity to project dominating power and influence anywhere in the world, generally characterised by strong growth rate and defence power and foreign influence is capable of becoming a superpower in the future.
While applying these parameters can we say confidently that India is on the path of becoming a superpower? Will it really become the world leader or Vishwaguru? If one goes by the strides India has made in the recent past in the fields of technology, space, science, economy, IT, defence, communication, etc. one is tend to believe in its potential capacity to get to that top notch position in the global scenario today. Great personalities of our time like former President ‘Missile Man’ Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Shri KS Sudarshan, and those in the past, including Swami Vivekananda or Yogi Aurobindo, have voiced their confidence about India becoming a world leader to fulfill the mission entrusted to it by the Almighty.
India had been the world leader once upon a time. The entire humanity benefitted from the eternal values Indians took with them wherever they went since the ancient period. India was, once upon a time in the history, a great nation. Since 2500 BC India was a fully developed civilisation, and had developed expertise in agriculture, pottery, weapons, ornaments, and alloys. The Indian Empire expanded during the Maurya and Gupta periods in various parts of the then known world. The world famous universities at Nalanda, Taxila or Bikramshila stand tall even today as proof of India’s fully developed education system and research facilities it offered to the students of the distant lands. But this was hampered by the intermittent invasions from across the borders starting from the Shaka, Huna and Greeks to Moghul and Europeans, especially the British who tried to subjugate India and Indians.
However, the sparks of Indian talents were visible even during the period of political dominance of the foreigners. Personalities like Dr J C Bose, Meghnad Saha, CV Raman, Srinivas Ramanujan, and Prof Chandrashekhar shone in the past. India has produced good thinkers of world repute like Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo, Mahatma Gandhi, Veer Sawarkar and others. With their emergence India has shown the West that they did not lag in talents also.
After Independence, India has engaged in a multi-faceted reconstruction and renaissance what can be collectively called as ‘nation-building’ with a avowed objective of making India a strong, creative nations guiding and shaping the future of the people in tune with its peculiar secular and spiritual characteristics. Today India has a battery of experts and intelligent men and women. Human resources have been developed to a great extent.
Strengths: (1) Population
When we talk of India becoming a superpower in the next decade we need to understand its strengths and weaknesses that would accelerate her march towards that goal. The foremost strength India can boast of is its huge human resource. India has a population of over 1.1 billion. More than 30 per cent of the world’s youth live in India. More than 55 per cent (550 million) of India’s population is less than 25 years of age. This is nearly twice the total population of the US. India’s urban population is around 30 per cent. India is a nation growing younger as the developed world faces the problem of aging. India has a huge reserve of English speaking, skilled and relatively inexpensive manpower in technological fields. India does not lack in technological, manufacturing talents; in fact, that is our strength.
India is being seen as the country of the young! This is the real demographic advantage India enjoys over all the superpowers of today. By 2020 India will have a surplus of 47 million people in the working age group while by that time the US will face a shortage of ‘human capital’ by 17 million, China by 10, Japan by 9 and Russia by 6 million. Hence, the biggest bane of population can be converted into an asset provided India takes some hard measures and that too without any delay. The key to India becoming a superpower through its manpower is a dynamic, outward looking, skill based education along with emphasis on research and development.
India is third largest education system in the world after the US and China to provide education to its citizens. There are 17973 institutions of which 348 are universities and 17625 colleges. Besides there are 70,000 private training institutions for computer education which train over 1 million people every year.
(2) Fastest growing Economy
In the last two decades, India has emerged as second fastest growing country in the world after China – averaging about six per cent growth per year. The country may even surge ahead of its Asian rival China in terms of economic growth and human resources. Goldman Sachs projected that over the next 50 years, India will be the fastest growing of the world’s major economies largely because of its work force will not age as fast as others. The report indicated that in 10 years, India’s economy will be larger than Italy’s and in 15 years will overtake the United Kingdom. By 2050, it will be five times the size of Japan and its per capita income will rise to 35 times its current level. India is a growing economy with huge market which is an added strength. Most of the superpowers of today are dependent on Indian market. We need to recognise this weakness of the developed countries and turn it in our favour by improving this dependence on our markets. For, this we need to concentrate on expanding our market strength through rapid elevation of sections of the society ready for up gradation.
India is 12th largest in GDP in the world. With 410,000 employees, it is the second largest employer in the IT, software and services industry in the world.
(3) Science and Technology
India has more talents in the fields of science and technology. India can be proud of its large battery of experienced, highly trained and capable professionals in various spheres of science and technology. Most of the Indian technological talent is presently working in foreign lands. They can be inspired to return by providing right conditions for them. Achievements of these Indians in the field of space technology, nuclear technology, pharmacy, medicine, software, agriculture etc. is the indication of great potential this country has to become a superpower in the coming days.
India has the second largest standing army in the world with an effective strength of 2.5 million personnel. The Indian Navy has 155 vessels including INS Viraat which is the only aircraft carrier in Asia. The Indian Air Force is the fourth largest air force in the world after US, Russia and China with 170,000 personnel and 1242 combat aircraft.
The recent research and development in defence has put India in the prestigious club of nuclear weapon countries in the world.
(5) Rich National and Cultural Heritage
India as the oldest living civilisation of the world has evolved its unique identity over the years. We have our own history, culture and identity. While we change the present picture of this country we should not lose our identity. If our identity is lost then we shall be like other ancient civilisations like Egypt or Rome, who have gone deep into the pages of history.
Weaknesses: Lack of National Goal and Vision
Even if India marches ahead on path to become the superpower in the days to come, its progress appears to be halted at stages by certain hindrances that can be easily overcome once we identify them, go to the roots of those ills and treat them with firm hand and resolve.
Corruption, caste politics, weak political leadership, religious fissures, Maoist violence, social inequality, population, poverty, infiltration, hostile neighbours and terrorism can be identified as some of the factors that affect the growth of people or the country as a whole. One need not elaborate the menace called corruption. It has gripped the entire system like a cancer and it has been difficult to remove this cancer however expert the managers of the country are. Corruption has entered into every sphere of our national, social, institutional and personal lives; nay it has become the way of life in India today! Similar is the case with other ills that have eaten into our system of governance and polity over the years.
But no one has ever tried to go deep into the roots of these ills confronting and challenging the country. All the efforts to overcome them were only cosmetic and offered temporary solutions.
However, the root cause is absence of a collective national goal, a national vision. We have plenty of politicians who cannot see beyond next election. To win the election is their only priority. Well-being of the society, honour of the country, superpower mean nothing to them. They are just content with their political power, and even ready to go to any extent to achieve the power. The third Sarsanghchalak of RSS, the late Balasaheb Deoras would often remark: “Politicians look for the next elections while Statesmen look for next generation.” Today India seriously lacks in such statesmen who would steer clear the country from the present crisis and take to the path of eternal glory which it enjoyed in the past as Leader of the World and Teacher of the Humanity.
For this, the leaders and aam adami of today will have to know and understand what India means to him. Just a piece of land, a geographical unit, a conglomerate of diverse cultures, languages, castes, or a living entity as Mother of us all, Bharatmata. The very concept of Mother India and her ancient glorious past and equally shining future will arouse in him a sense of pride and then nothing, no power on the earth can stop him taking this nation to the highest pinnacle of glory. But the basic requisite for this is projecting a grand national goal and a vision to accomplish that. If India today can do this, the future of the world is India and India alone.
(The writer is a veteran journalist.)