What/who is a superpower?
According to 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 influence. This is a very comprehensive definition of superpower, covering all the areas.
Currently, we have only one superpower i.e. the United States of America. The USSR was also a superpower but after its division, it seized to be so. China is on its way to being a superpower, but now it is just a regional power.
What does India need to do to become a superpower?
It is a long road ahead for India to become a superpower. There are several areas we need to focus on to achieve the goal.
- Education and Healthcare: This is the first and foremost step taken by all the developed countries. They invested heavily in these two areas and brought up the literacy and life expectancy rate. India still has a literacy rate of what China had in 1991. And it is a very known fact that we have underinvested in these two areas, even after knowing that they are the solution to 70% of our country’s problems. They will raise the standard of living and clearly the USA’s standard of living is quite high as compared to India.
- Strong Economy: India is still dependent on agriculture and tax collection for the most part of its revenue. We definitely have missed out the golden opportunity of opening our markets after the cold war era. We need to boost our manufacturing sector. Though foreign investments have recently started flowing in, they are mostly to capture Indian markets only. Indian made products are hardly used by other countries, they are unable to compete globally and are used by Indians only. We need to become producers rather than just being consumers. We don’t seem to be paying much attention here. In the last quarter, our manufacturing sector grew by only 3.1%. America is a 21 trillion-dollar economy, whereas India still is aiming to become a 5 trillion-dollar economy by 2024. We need to get rid of the agricultural economy tag as soon as possible.
- Defence: Though we have the second-largest army, fourth largest Air Force and the seventh-largest navy. But when we look at the equipment most of them belong to a different generation. The equipment we use is not the latest or of the best technology. Moreover, we import 99% of our defence equipment. A superpower cannot be dependent on other countries for its safety. We need to have a strong defence on the foundations of a strong economy.
- Capturing the fourth industrial revolution: India is not as attentive as required to the advancements in AI, IoT, Data Sciences, Life Sciences, New energy resources, materials etc. In the future, a country’s strength/destiny will be determined by its level of Science & Technology. Forget about the USA we invest around one-tenth of China in these technologies.
- Environment: Out of 180 countries, India ranked 177, in the world when it comes to handling environmental issues, according to the 2018 Environmental Performance Index (EPI)— the green rankings released on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum meet in Davos. Most of the developed nations have expenditure on environment protection higher than that on military and education combined. We are losing our forest cover at a rapid rate, many cities and villages are facing acute water scarcity, temperatures are soaring, major rivers are extremely polluted etc. These issues develop social unrest and instability.
- Improve rankings in various indexes: As a country with such high ambitions, India should focus on improving its ranking in various indexes such as Human Development Index, Happiness Index, Freedom of Press Index etc. Our rankings in these areas are amongst the underdeveloped nations of Africa.
- Population Control: India’s population is booming. India is the seventh-largest country by area but may overtake China in terms of population by 2025. Such a huge population is difficult to manage. It’s an overwhelming task to cater to needs 1.25 billion people. High population leads to improper distribution and overexploitation of resources.
- Strong Diplomatic and Defence Relations: A global superpower has the ability to influence the decisions of countries thousands of miles away, forces a country to think twice before taking any step which could adversely affect it. Despite recently closing hundreds of bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States still maintains nearly 800 military bases in more than 70 countries and territories abroad. Has been giving billions of dollars of financial aid to the needful countries (India was also a beneficiary of the USA at the time of Independence), helps them in development, which is enough to manipulate the policy-making of a country. The USA is also a member of all the major decision making and governing bodies in the world. It will definitely take decades for India to gain such a stature in the global community.
These are the important areas where India needs to work heavily if it wants to be a superpower.
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