As per Wikipedia, a Superpower is a state with a dominant position characterized by its extensive ability to exert influence or project power on a global scale. This is done through the combined-means of economic, military, technological, and cultural strength, as well as diplomatic and ‘soft power’.
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Back Ground: Post World War-II Scenario
The term Superpower was first applied post World War II to the United States and the Soviet Union. For the duration of the Cold War the United States and the Soviet Union came to be generally regarded as the two Superpowers dominating world affairs. At the end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, only the United States appeared to be the world's Superpower. It is generally believed that China too has become a Superpower with its very large economy and growing influence. India is considered to be an emerging superpower, which has the potential, but requires execution and political will.
So while there is no agreed definition of what is a 'superpower', fundamental characteristics that is consistent with all definitions of a superpower is a nation or state that has mastered the seven dimensions of state power: geography, population, economy, resources, military, diplomacy and national identity. In this article we will discuss about the seven aspects of Superpower in reference to India.
India as an Economic Superpower
The economy of India is the world's seventh-largest economy by nominal GDP and the third-largest by purchasing power parity (PPP). However, the country ranks poorly at 139th in per capita GDP (nominal) with $2,134 and 122nd in per capita GDP (PPP) with $7,783 as of 2018. After the 1991 economic liberalisation, India achieved 6-7% average GDP growth annually. Since 2014 with the exception of 2017, India's economy has been the world's fastest growing major economy, surpassing China.
Economists rate long-term growth prospective of the Indian economy as positive due to many factors like young population, healthy savings and investment rates, and increasing integration into the global economy. Despite almost two decades of reforms, economic growth is still significantly slowed by bureaucracy, poor infrastructure, and inflexible labor laws (especially the inability to lay off workers in a business slowdown).
What is remarkable about Indian economy is that India has one of the fastest growing service sectors in the world with an annual growth rate above 9% since 2001, which contributed to 57% of GDP in 2012–13. As a result, India has become a major exporter of IT services, Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) services, and software services with $154 billion revenue in FY 2017. This is the fastest-growing part of the economy.
Indian economy can be divided into 3 sectors:
- Primary sector
India, growing at 9% per year, is the world's second largest producer of food next to China. Food processing accounts for USD 69.4 billion as gross income.
- Secondary sector
India is still relatively a small player in manufacturing when compared to many world leaders. Some new trends suggest an improvement in future, since the manufacturing sector is growing at 11-12%.
- Tertiary and quaternary sector
India currently has an expanding IT industry which is considered one of the best in the world. Some have begun to describe India as a technology superpower. It is considered the World's Office and is leading in the Services Industry. This is mainly due to the availability of a large pool of highly skilled, low cost, English speaking workforce.
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Superpower in Geography
India lies in the cultural region of Indian Ocean - a zone with unprecedented potential for growth in the scale of transoceanic commerce, with many Eurasian and increasingly Afro-Asian sea-trade routes passing through or close to Indian territorial waters.
Being a region in the sunny tropical belt, the Indian subcontinent could greatly benefit from a renewable energy trend, as it has the ideal combination of both - high solar insolation and a big consumer base density. All the above factors help India to become the Superpower in terms of Geography.
India as a Population Superpower
ndia is the second most populated country in the world with nearly a fifth of the world's population. According to the 2017 revision of the World Population Prospects, the population stood at 1,324,171,354.
India has more than 50% of its population below the age of 25 and more than 65% below the age of 35. It is expected that, in 2020, the average age of an Indian will be 29 years, compared to 37 for China and 48 for Japan; and, by 2030, India's dependency ratio should be just over 0.4.
This provides the nation with a large workforce for many decades, helping in its growth.
The sex ratio is 944 females for 1000 males (2016) (940 per 1000 in 2011). This ratio has been showing an upwards trend for the last two decades after a continuous decline in the last century.
Superpower in Natural Resources
Tourism: India, with its diverse and fascinating history, arts, and music, and culture, spiritual & social models has witnessed the growth of a booming tourism industry. India is a historic place with a diverse history of over five millennia. About 3.9 million tourists travelled to India in 2005, each spending approximately $1,470 per person, higher than that of France (the leading tourist destination in the world).
Energy: In the future, the world is expected to exit the "fossil fuel age", and perhaps the "nuclear energy age", and enter the "renewable-energy age" or even further into the "fusion power age", if and whenever these technologies become economically sustainable.
India also has 25% of the world's thorium resources.
Metallic minerals: Metallic minerals are the minerals which contain one or more metallic elements. They occur in rare, naturally formed concentrations known as mineral deposits. Metallic minerals available from India are zinc, iron ore, manganese ore, gold, bauxite, silver, lead, tin, copper and chromite.
Superpower in Military:
The Indian Armed Forces, India's main defence organisation, consist of two main branches: the core Military of India and the Indian Paramilitary Forces. The Military of India maintains the second largest active duty force in the world after China, while the Indian Paramilitary Forces, over a million strong, is the second largest paramilitary force in the world. Combined, the total armed forces of India are 2,414,700 strong, the world's third largest defense force.
The Army of India, as the Indian army was called under British rule before 1947, played a crucial role in checking the advance of Imperial Japan into South Asia during World War II. It also played a leading role in the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971. Today, the Indian Army is the world's largest army in total numbers of armed personnel.
The Indian Air Force is the fourth largest air force in the world. India recently inducted its second indigenously manufactured combat aircraft. India is also developing the fifth generation stealth aircraft.
The Indian Navy is the world's fifth largest navy. It is considered to have blue-water capabilities with sophisticated missile-capable warships, aircraft carrier, minesweepers, advanced submarines and the latest aircraft in its inventory, along with a significant use of state of the art technology that is indigenously manufactured. It operates one aircraft carrier and also plans to induct the INS Vikrant by 2020 followed by a larger INS Vishal.
Superpower in Space
On March 27, India shot down a low-earth orbit satellite in space, propelling itself into an elite club of nations, which has mastered this anti-satellite (ASAT) missile technology, said PM Narendra Modi in his address to the nation. PM Modi was quick to point out the intent of DRDO's "Mission Shakti" is to defend India’s space assets and not to start any arms race in space. Since there are no treaties governing the use of ASAT, India is not in violation of any international conventions.
A look at what is Mission Shakti why it is path-breaking:
- The use of ASAT is seen as crossing new frontier just like India’s 1998 nuclear tests. Anti-satellite technology has so far been in the hands of very few countries: the United States, Russia and China. The acquisition and demonstration of this technology make India a member of an elite group of countries.
- The fact that this anti-satellite technology is indigenously developed adds to India’s credentials, given that for many decades India was kept away from acquiring key technologies, forcing the country to develop its own space and nuclear capabilities.
- The acquisition of this technology is expected to have spin-offs that India can exploit for commercial use, both domestic and globally. Having developed its own vehicles for commercial satellite launches, today India is launching satellites of other countries. There was a time it used to piggyback on French-made launch vehicles such as the Ariane.
- Coming as it does after the surgical strikes against Pakistan in 2016 and the Balakot air strike last month, Mission Shakti is expected to burnish the nationalist credentials of PM Modi and the National democratic Alliance (NDA), which has been putting emphasis on indigenously developed technology, skills and enterprise.
Superpower in diplomacy
India is the world's largest democratic republic, more than three times bigger than the next largest (the United States). It has so far been successful politically, especially considering its functionality despite its difficult ethnic composition.
India has developed relationships with the world powers like the European Union, Japan, Russia, and the United States. It also developed relationships with the African Union (particularly South Africa), the Arab World, Southeast Asia, Israel and South American nations (particularly Brazil). In order to make the environment favourable for economic growth, India is investing on its relations with China. It has significantly boosted its image among Western nations and signed a civilian nuclear deal with the United States in March 2006. It is also working for better relationships with Pakistan.
Factors against the rise of India as a Superpower
While above factor forces India to be the next Superpower. There are some factors which hinders the growth of India as a country.
- Political obstacles
- Lack of international representation: India is not a permanent member of the UNSC, although currently it is one of the four-nations group actively seeking a permanent seat in the council. Thus, India lacks the ability to extend its influence or ideas on international events in the way superpowers do.
- Cost of democratic republic: Democratic republicanism has its value, more so in a multi-ethnic country like India. The Indian government has to consider many interest groups before decision making.
- Insurgency: India has had significant successes with quelling many insurgencies. However the Indian government has acknowledged that there has been a dramatic increase in support for the Maoists (Naxalite) insurgency in the last decade. Kashmir too remains on boil.
- Disputes: India's growth is impeded by disputes with its neighboring China and Pakistan (over historical border and ideological issues) and disputes with Bangladesh (over water availability and the Farakka Dam).
- Economic obstacles
- Unemployment & Jobless Growth: India's growth in the services sector and Information Technology sector has not been matched by growth in manufacturing which can provide more jobs. Unless India finds a quick way to generate jobs, its population of unemployed youths could be a reason for instability.
- Poverty: As of 2011, approximately 21.9% of India's population lived below poverty line. Various reforms, including mass employment schemes have been undertaken by the government to tackle this problem, and India has been quite successful in reducing its share of poverty. However, the issue of poverty in India is far from resolved.
- Infrastructure: Basic infrastructure in India such as roads, power grid, water, communications infrastructure, housing and education are often below standards, and not catching up with the tune of its economic progress. Continued poor infrastructure might serve as a bottleneck to further economic development.
- Energy dependence and costs: India heavily depends on foreign oil - a phenomenon likely to continue until non-fossil/renewable energy technology becomes economically viable in the country. As for now, India is energetically expensive since India has to import over 70% of its energy, thus making costs of comforts - like personal car or even air conditioning - extremely high.
- Social issues
- Low literacy: As per the 2011 India census, India's national literacy is only 74.04% (2011). Literacy in India is not homogeneous; some states in India have more impressive literacy rates than others.
- Health: India's health scenario is dismal with diseases and malnutrition constantly affecting the poorest quarter of the populace. Mortality is still relatively high and the bane of AIDS is spreading quickly. According to a report of United Nations Development Programme, India has the highest population living with AIDS/HIV and its economy might suffer a setback if it does not check the problem of the virus' spread. It is estimated that India's economic growth will decline by 0.86 percentage annually if the AIDS problem is not properly dealt with.
- Communal violence: India has a diverse mix of various religions and races. The majority are Hindus by religion, followed by Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Buddhists, Bahaii and many more. Though most religions in India have been practising religious tolerance in their histories, the partition and subsequent terrorism had created some degree of uneasiness among some.
- Social divide: The problem of India's social divide is often linked to its centuries-old caste system. In an attempt to eliminate the caste system, the Indian government has introduced special quotas for low-caste Indians in educational institutions and jobs. The measure is with the motive of helping lower-caste Indians to pursue higher education and thereby elevate their standard of life. However, the system is often criticised about its effectiveness as so called creamy layer (rich among the lower caste) get non-needed advantage & leave other lower caste groups poor only.
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