The Republic of India is considered as one of the possible emerging superpowers of the world along with China, Brazil, Russia and European Union. Currently, only the United States fulfills the criteria to be considered a superpower.
What are the factors that influence a country becoming a superpower and what exactly is a superpower?
An extremely powerful nation, especially one capable of influencing international events and the acts and policies of less powerful nations.
Superpower status is achieved by combined means of technological, cultural, military and economic strength as well as diplomatic and soft power influence. Let us know how well India is doing in this sectors and understand how far we are from becoming a superpower.
Demographic and Geographic factors
These are the most important factors which influence the development of any country, coming to Indian geography, India is 7th largest country in the world, with a total area of 3,287,263 square kilometers. India is a sub-continent geographically isolated in all directions with Bay of Bengal on south east, Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean on south west, and Suleiman mountains, Safid mountains, Hindu Kush, Karakorum, Arakan range and world’s longest Himalayas covering 2 thousand kilometers, this effectively makes Indian sub-continent like a castle surrounded by wall of mountains and water stretching thousands of kilometers.
India has the world’s second largest population with 1.3 billion people and counting. Many consider this as one of the disadvantages of the country, which is right for some extent, most of them choose to ignore the fact that due to its high birth rate India has a young population compared to most aging nations. Approximately 65% of its population is below the age of 35, and 50% of the population under 24, which adds ridiculous amount of numbers to workforce. As a matter of fact Indian demographic window has started in 2010, which is predicted to last till 2050, while United States of America and Europe has well past their demographic window. This provides India with a large workforce helping in its growth, contrary to the decline of workforces of countries like USA, China and European Countries.
The economy of India is the seventh-largest economy in the world measured by nominal GDP and the third-largest by purchasing power parity (PPP). With 2.29 trillion dollars nominal GDP and 8.64 trillion dollars purchasing power parity GDP and recently over took China in Foreign Direct Investment. India has the fastest growing economy with average of 7% growth every year, the annual growth of India in 2015 is 7.5% overtaking countries like Japan and China. It is predicted that within a couple of decades, India will emerge as an economic superpower.
Economists and Researchers at Harvard University have projected India’s 7% projected annual growth rate through 2024 would continue to put it ahead of China, making India the fastest growing economy in the world.
Clyde V. Prestowitz Jr., founder and president of the Economic Strategy Institute and former counselor to the Secretary of Commerce in the Reagan administration, has predicted that “It is going to be India’s century. India is going to be the biggest economy in the world. It is going to be the biggest superpower of the 21st century.
Science and Technology Era
India is becoming one of the world’s leading producers of computer software and with mushrooming R&D centres it is experiencing a steady revolution in science and technology. The southern part of India is responsible for the lion share of technology and advancements the country has made. The golden triangle of IT and technology (Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai) forms the backbone of Indian Manufacturing, R&D and Science and Technology.
IT, Biotechnology, Aerospace, Nuclear Science, Manufacturing Technology, Automobile Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Ship Building, Space science, Electronics, Computer Science and other Medical Science related research and development are going on a large scale in the country.
A typical example of India’s rising scientific endeavours is that it was the 3rd nation to found a National Space Agency called ISRO, after the USSR and the U.S. It was the third Asian nation to send satellites into space after China and Japan in 1970, starting with Aryabhata in 1975. In January 2007, India became the fourth nation to complete atmospheric reentry In October 2008, India launched its first unmanned lunar probe, Chandrayaan 1. On 24 September 2014 India became the fourth nation to have a satellite orbiting Mars. India is the first Asian nation to achieve this and the first to do so in its first try. And we are just getting started.
Military and Defense
The Indian Armed Forces are the military forces of the Republic of India. It consists of three professional uniformed services: the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force. India has third largest Armed Forces with strength of over 1.3 million active personnel and 1.2 reserve personnel.
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.
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 two aircraft carriers and also plans to induct the INS Vikrant by 2018 followed by a larger INS Vishal.
India started the IGMDP to be a self-reliant nation in missile development. The IGMDP program includes five missiles like the Prithvi and Agni of ballistic missiles, surface to air missiles Trishul and Akash and also the anti-tank Nag missile. India has possessed nuclear weapons since 1974, when it did the Pokharan I nuclear tests, and the means to deliver them over long distances. However, India is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (on grounds of security concerns and that India condemns the NPT as discriminatory). India is currently one of the world’s largest arms importers, spending an estimated US$16.97 billion in 2004. India has made military technology deals with the Russian Federation, the U.S., Israel and the EU.
Historically, India was one of the founding members of Non-Aligned Movement, and had good relationships with Soviet Union and other parts of western world. It played regional roles in South Asian affairs, e.g. its use of the Indian Peace Keeping Force in the Bangladesh Liberation War and in Sri Lanka. It took a leading initiative to improve relations between African and Asian countries. India is an active member of the Commonwealth and the WTO. The evolving economic integration politics in the West and in Asia is influencing the Indian mood to slowly swing in favour of integration with global economy. Currently, India’s political moves are being influenced by economic imperatives. New Delhi is also being observed to slowly, cautiously, and often hesitantly, step into the unchartered role of becoming one of the two major seats of political power in Asia, the other being at Beijing. Some enlightened thinkers from the subcontinent have also envisioned, over the long run, of a South Asian version of free trade zone and even a Union, where the South Asian nations relinquish all past animosities and move to make economic growth a pan subcontinental phenomenon.
India comprises of a strong leader in the form of Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, but India is multi-ethnic country with democratic republicanism, the applicability of the “theoretical” virtues of republicanism on a country like India is sometimes questioned. The Indian government has to consider many interest groups before decision making. However, it should be noted that India is relatively a much younger republic when compared to other major democracies. Moreover, it is predicted that in the long run, India being a democracy will provide it an edge over non-democratic competitors like China.
India already a leading power in many sectors, it doesn’t take much time for India to overtake economy, military and technological fields of other countries. India still need to reform many things in order to become a superpower especially when it comes to diplomatic and soft power influence.