As soon as the word superpower comes to mind, 2 countries flash in our mind, America and Russia. For the past few years, it is natural to have another name in the form of China. The interesting fact is that super power is not a title given according to the assessment of research done by any global organisation, nor is it confirmed by any official announcement but on the basis of ongoing strategic, economic and diplomatic activities at the global level. From the World Wars to the Cold War era, the concept of a superpower developed in the bi-polar world divided into the camps of America and Russia. If we consider this topic rationally, how appropriate is it to continue to consider these three countries as superpowers in this changing world?
Changing definition of superpower
If we consider the so-called superpower countries on the basis of military capability, America’s escape from Afghanistan, Russia’s involvement in long war with Ukraine and China’s involvement in Taiwan and South China Sea prove that there is no global military power present. If we consider the economic power as the qualification of a super power, then Russia is still strongly active against America despite the strict economic sanctions imposed by America. It is a challenge to the dominance of the dollar. We cannot consider China as a super power just by giving huge loans to all the small countries and trapping them in their debt mirage. Thus it proves itself that considering someone as a super power is a global concept. But in the changing world the factors responsible behind the concepts are also changing rapidly. Let us try to understand other countries including India in the light of these changes.
In the rapidly changing global developments since last few years, the parameters of being established as a super power are also undergoing a major change. After a long period, another country is also entering the category of these superpowers, whose name is India.
India joining the ranks of superpower countries is therefore not a common phenomenon. The standards on the basis of which India is making its identity in global diplomacy, instead of fear of strategic and economic power, there is a feeling of equality, fraternity and mutual welfare with the countries.
Global opportunities in the digital age
India is becoming the leader of a transparent, inclusive, mutually egalitarian digital democracy in the world based on the development and cooperation of public digital infrastructure. It is getting further strength through the chairmanship of G20. The manner in which India has laid the foundation stone of a new and all-inclusive action plan by being non-aligned, has ensured that the countries of the world do not talk to each other by raising their eyes, nor by lowering their eyes, but by making eye contact with each other. The belief that the problems of Europe are not the problems of the world was established on the world stage by the Foreign Minister of India, Dr. S. Jaishankar, this global diplomacy of India has been taken up by all the countries of Asia and Africa. Let us understand how India, which has become the undisputed leader of public digital infrastructure, is engaged in establishing this opportunity of its G20 presidency as a golden benchmark.
There is no doubt about the 21st century being called the era of the Internet, because in today’s time, whether it is about providing public services or the complex technology of defense and space, everything is based on the Internet and digital infra. This is the reason that if you look at the period of the last 15-20 years of the world, the names of these digital service provider companies like Amazon, Twitter, Meta or Google etc. are found in the biggest and fastest growing companies of the world. The services affecting the present world the most are digital marketing, e-commerce, electronic communication, cloud infra, social media and operating systems. One thing has become clear from this that the super power of this century will be the one who will establish its supremacy over cyber technology and internet users.
In the last decade, the governments of many countries of the world were seen confronting these big companies because it was clear to them that the center of power in the changing world is shifting from the governments to these big tech-superpowers. And companies were taking full advantage of this change for their benefit. In the global scenario in the past, just as the world was divided into first, second and third world on strategic and economic fronts, similarly in today’s world, on the basis of these internet facilities, the world appears to be classified in the category of rich and poor.
Public Digital Infrastructure (PDI)
In the absence of cyber-based infrastructure, a huge digital divide is being established not only among the public but also among countries. This division is making the already backward countries more backward. Everyone had an eye on this global problem of digital divide, but the developed countries have not yet started working on its solution. Sensing this very timely opportunity, India has taken upon itself the task of bridging this digital divide.
If we take a look back at the years after 2014, we find that India has made an incomparable, excellent and innovation-rich performance in the development of public digital infrastructure, seeing which even the developed countries of the world are in awe. Be it Aadhaar Card, Mobile and Bank Linking, DigiLocker or Bill Payment System, Bharat Bill Pay or UPI which revolutionised the economic sector, all these have proved India’s public digital infrastructure in front of the world. During the Covid-19 epidemic, when the big countries of the world and their health systems collapsed, India successfully vaccinated 18 per cent of the world’s population using the Covin app. The whole world was stunned to see how smoothly this work was done.
Opportunities through equality and excellence
Narendra Modi’s central government deserves thanks for the excellent use of the potential of government companies. At the same time, instead of considering private companies as competitors, their excellence and potential was also utilised by bringing them in an inclusive role. In this way, public companies as well as private companies got equal opportunities in the development of public digital infra by the government, due to which many new startups, employment generation and unicorns also developed within the country. Government and private institutions in India were considered adversaries to each other before the Modi government came to the center, but today both of them are complementing each other and increasing India’s reputation in the world.
Excellence through transparency
Innovations like mobile banking and UPI had started being created in the developed countries as well, but India opened up these new innovative opportunities and markets to private entities equally under its standard rules and regulations. While other countries of the world wanted their complete government control over these innovations. India put its public digital infra on open source and their APIs (Application Programming Interface) provided equal opportunity to all to innovate. This equal and free opportunity for innovation provided by India has changed the tech ecosystem of the entire world. In this way, India produced the best result by providing equal opportunity to all, instead of strengthening selective technological superpowers.
All these infrastructures with their cost-effective and acceptance-based terms of service for exchange of information led to their inclusion & bridging the digital divide of society. The success of Pradhan Mantri JanDhan Yojana in 2015 is a tribute to this fact. When this scheme started in 2015, only 15 percent of the bank accounts were of women. After 8 years of Jan Dhan Yojana, bank accounts of 67 percent women in semi-urban areas and 56 percent women in rural areas have been opened. 460 million bank accounts have been opened in the country and the average deposit per account has increased by 71 percent. This is the result of the revolution of India’s public digital infra.
50 years of development journey in 10 years
According to a research by the Bank for International Settlements, the development that India has registered in the last 10 years in terms of digital public infrastructure would have taken any other country 50 years to achieve.
According to ACI Worldwide’s report, Prime Time for Real Time 2022, India’s UPI system is a very advanced type of payment system used in other developed countries. A vivid example of this budding innovation and technological expertise of India was seen during Covid-19 when more than 50 countries of the world showed their interest in India’s Covin platform. After this, by making it open source in India, it was made available to all countries.
In this connection, Covin Global Conclave was also organised in July 2021 in which more than 140 countries participated. According to a statement made by Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, an MoU is also under discussion between India and the World Health Organisation to use Covin as a global vaccination platform.
Taking a step forward in this direction, India is now democratising the e-commerce sector by promoting interoperability. For this, through the Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) platform, small, medium and retail traders of the country are being provided a common platform of e-commerce market. Seeing this, it can be said that in the coming times, India’s micro, small and medium industries will achieve new heights, as well as this platform will help a lot in making its identity at the global level. To revolutionise health services, the work of making all medical and health service providers available to patients/people through a single platform is being done through Unified Health Interface (UHI) under Swasthya Bharat Digital Mission.
From all the above topics, the message has been sent to the whole world that if the coming time is of digital infra revolution, then undoubtedly India is the leader of this revolution. This is also true because all of India’s technological innovation and digital expertise has been tested for success and quality in a society full of diversity.
Other countries of the world and all global institutions believe that the digital ecosystem which is successful even in India’s complex and diverse conditions is ready to be accepted by the world. Due to this, according to a statement given by Information Technology Minister Ashwani Vaishnav, talks are going on with 30 countries of the world to make India’s UPI service available. In which France, United Arab Emirates and Singapore have already adopted this platform. Talks are on with Nepal, Japan and China about this.
On the basis of all these things, we can say that India is taking the whole world towards digital democracy and technical inclusion by eliminating all digital barriers. This is establishing India within the concept of a super power. Today 4 billion people in the world do not have any digital identity of their own. The same 1.5 billion people have not been able to connect with the banks. Currently there is no digital payment system in 133 countries of the world. In such a situation, we can say that it is the country of India which can take all the countries forward by leading them as an effective guide.
Today, India has a golden opportunity to remove the digital divide created among the people of the world by making available the package of digital services developed by these innovations to all the countries of the world and include them in the mainstream of the society. This will also lead to an unprecedented increase in India’s soft power. That’s why when India assumed the chairmanship of G-20 recently, a positive thought was generated in the whole world about it.
Importance of Chairmanship of G20
As soon as India accepted the presidency of G-20 with the slogan of One Earth, One Family, One Future, India also made its intention clear to the world. The presidency of the G-20, a group that accounts for nearly 85 per cent of the world’s GDP, 75 per cent of world trade and two-thirds of the world’s population, provides an opportunity to bring all of its successful ventures to the global stage. India create an attractive investment, free trade and tourism prospects for itself.
In such a situation, we are seeing how India is continuously increasing its influence at the global level and in this way India is moving forward not only in the role of a dominating superpower but also as a superpower capable of global leadership. Today, when India is moving towards becoming a welfare superpower by standing in the line of developed countries, then this inspiration is coming from the Vedas. India, imbued with the spirit of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” enshrined in the soul of Sanatan Dharma, is devotedly engaged in its implementation thinking about the welfare of not only itself but also the entire world. The establishment of digital democracy is the result of the consciousness generated by the welfare of human beings of this eternal culture.