Maj Gen C P Singh (Retd)
India got independence from British Raj in 1947 and embarked on the journey of growth and glory once again. After centuries of foreign rule, the country was to find it’s place of pride in the comity of nations. It’s been an arduous journey of 75 years. We started with baby steps initially and now taken giant steps in 21st Century. Today every nation wants to befriend India because India matters to the world. Recently, in June 2022, PM of India was a special invitee at the G-7 Meet in Germany. It was a delightful sight to see President Joe Biden of USA, walking up to PM Narendra Modi to shake hands and greet him. PM Modi has been getting standing ovation and warm reception all over the globe, wherever he visits. The Charisma of leaders also matter but it’s the Prime Minister of India, whom everyone wants to meet. Have no doubts about it because India matters to the world today!
Nation states do not become great just like that. They have to be baptized by fire and rise over the years, to be counted in the world forum. India’s enviable progress in last 75 years since independence and exponential rise in the last decade has catapulted it onto the global centre stage. Some of the strengths of this great nation, which qualify it for superpower status are flagged hereafter.
The true character of individuals and nations is reflected in adversity and emergent times. The world has been excited about India and its perennially untapped potential in the past. India has amply proved it’s resilience in critical times. Just two examples showcase the Indian excellence in disaster management.
- Covid Management. When COVID pandemic struck the world, wave after wave, India with 135 Crore population, weathered the storm very well and managed to contain the damage better than developed nations. Thus, India is among the nations with the lowest percentage of infected persons and the lowest mortality rate, if one considers the entire population. Corona virus has impacted the economy of each & every Country. Global economic order has been substantially altered. However, India has surprised the world with its V-shaped recovery.
- Vaccination Drive. India is a shining example of efficient vaccine administration to the largest population of the world. The software developed by India to digitally manage the vaccination drive has proved to be the best in the world. Behaving like a responsible democratic nation state, we have exported vaccine and life saving medicines to more than 100 countries of the world, including USA. As the manufacturer of the majority of the world’s vaccines, India is better placed than many other developing countries to roll out the vaccines successfully and efficiently, every year.
International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s latest global projections predict world economy to plunge into the worst recession, post COVID. All developed countries will have negative growth including USA and Europe. In such a situation, India holds a beacon of hope for the world. Listed below are some of the pointers which make India an emerging global economy.
- Fastest Growing Economy. It is the world’s sixth-largest economy by nominal GDP and the third-largest by purchasing power parity (PPP).The IMF has projected 7.5% growth rate for India in FY 2022-23, making India the fastest growing economy post COVID. This growth trajectory will see India become the world’s third largest economy by 2030, only behind USA and China.
- Biggest Consumer Market. India, with a population of 135 Crores and developing country with increasing per capita income, forms the biggest consumer market in the world. All the countries are tapping this vast consumer base and hence the relevance of India in the world market.
- Biggest Manufacturing Hub. Internationally, a clear trend has been emerging where major western MNCs are making strategic plans to move their supply chain and manufacturing out of China. India, with it’s rapidly improving infrastructure, cheap labour, educated employable youth and stable democratic Govt provides the best and cost effective alternative to China. India is now also poised to become the factory of the world.
- Youngest Population. India has the youngest population in the world, while China, Japan and Europe has started graying. Also India produces the largest no of graduates, every year. Further, the widely acknowledge demographic dividend, skillful and diligent youth of India is attracting the MNCs to set up bases in India. Indian intelligentsia is also making its mark in all countries, across the globe.
- Digital India. India has been leading the digital world by BPO industry. Opening Global Capability Centers (GCC) by MNCs is the neo-globalization. India is leading the same. 1400 MNCs have already set up GCC in India providing jobs to 1.3 million work force and earning a revenue of $36 billion. India has also created 100 unicorns with valuations over one billion dollars. NASSCOM predicts another 40% increase in next three years.
- Wheat Exporter. India has taken giant leaps in improving the agriculture and dairy yield in the country. From being a food-grain importer in 20th century back, in 2016, India produced a whopping 90 million tonnes of wheat, making it the second largest wheat producer in the world. Today, we are net exporter of wheat, having exported 1.8 million tonnes of wheat to 12 countries of the world. It’s a matter of pride that we are also the largest producer of milk, pulses, jute products and second largest producer of rice, wheat, sugarcane, groundnut, vegetables, fruits and cotton.
Armed Forces have been the most effective instrument of national power. It’s integral part to super power status. A strong, well equipped and trained Army is essential for a nation having hawkish neighbours, with unsettled borders. The expenditure incurred on Army, as “Force of Deterrence” should be taken as insurance for unhindered growth of the nation and never questioned. Let’s examine certain attributes of Indian Armed Forces, which make them great-
- Fourth Strongest Armed Forces. According to the recently released Global Firepower (GFP) Annual Defence Review, India’s military is the 4th most powerful with strength of over 1.4 million active personnel; it is the world’s second-largest military force and has the world’s largest volunteer army. It also has the third-largest defence budget in the world. Indian Army has vast battle experience of fighting in all types of terrain and in counter-terrorist operations for last four decades.
- Third Best Indian Air Force (IAF). The Indian Air Force (IAF) ranks third on World Air Power Index in terms of Fighting strength of different air force services of different countries. In 2022, the world directory of modern military Aircraft (WDMMA) placed the Indian Air Force in third place, above the Chinese Air force, or People’s Libertarian Army Air Force(PLAAF), the French Air and Space Power, and the Israeli Aviation Based Armed Forces.
- Nuclear Power. India is established as a mature nuclear power with stated ‘no first use’ policy. India is the 6th country in the world to build its very own nuclear submarine after US, Russia, France, the UK and China. This provides India the second strike nuclear capability. Need of nuclear deterrence is well established in the Ukraine war this year.
- Largest Buyer of War Equipment. India’s military spending in 2021 is the third highest in the world at $76.6 billion — behind the United States and China but ahead of the United Kingdom and Russia. India was the largest buyer of war fighting machinery till 2021, giving it the leverage to swing the global order favourably.
- Atmanirbhar Bharat. Under the Make in India programme, India is planning for indigenous manufacture of state of the art war equipment for it’s use. We are also looking for marketing of indigenous war machinery to developing countries. India’s defence exports have recorded nearly a eight-fold increase between 2017 and 2022, growing from 1,520 crore to 13000 crore. Defence items being exported by India include Brahmos missiles, Tejas fighter jets, the advanced light helicopter, offshore patrol vessels, personal protective gear, surveillance systems and a variety of radars. Recent orders for Brahmos missiles and Tejas fighter aircrafts are shining examples of evolving defence production industry. As the defence production increase it’s footprints across the globe, private sector will have to be involved with technology transfer to friendly countries.
India has been a rich ancient civilisation and holds a long record of being a mature and stable democratic nation for 75 years. In recent times, India’s political and economic rise in the comity of nations has given new meanings to India’s soft power resources and its employment for protecting and promoting India’s interest. Some of the known indicators of Indian soft power are as follows-
- Great Indian Civilisation and cultural heritage.
- 75 yrs old stable and mature largest democracy.
- Good record of environmental protection and saving the planet earth.
- India’s policy of helping other nations and peaceful co-existence.
- Exporter of knowledge, wisdom and religious harmony.
- Indian dances and performing arts including Indian Cinema.
- Promoter of Wellness of body, mind and soul. India is pioneer in natural and organic supplements , yoga and meditation.
- Diversity of Indian food and cuisine with liking world over.
- Indian diaspora of learned NRI, making their mark globally.
- India’s non-intrusive nature of soft power employment.
India has waited for centuries for a rare opportunity to reclaim its status as a world leader. In order to catapult the incredible India into the high pedestal of the super power, a charismatic leadership was required and we found that in 21st Century. After PM Smt Indira Gandhi, India has probably found the right choice for the premier in Shri Narendra Modi. Today, every country wants to talk to India and keep India in its fold. Having excellent relations with all world leaders, PM Modi is emerging as the popular choice to mediate towards ending the Ukraine conflict. On Twitter, PM Modi is the second most followed political leader, after Former President Barrack Obama of USA.
In the geopolitics of 21st Century, India has carved a niche for itself. Indian EAM has rightly said that India is big enough to have its own views and not be part of any block. Though all power blocks want India on their side, because India matters to the world today, but they have now accepted India’s stand of principled neutrality. World now respects India’s decision making as per its national interests.
India has all the right ingredients to become the global super power. It’s stature in the world forum is increasing. If India could manage its internal diversities and harness the contradictions with inclusive growth and NATION FIRST agenda, 21st Century will belong to India.
(Maj Gen C P Singh (Retd) is a social activist, career consultant and a motivation speaker)