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“Prime Minister Modi is The Boss”, Australian PM Anthony Albanese said while addressing a gathering in Sydney recently signifying India’s growing importance in global affairs as an emerging global power and a potential superpower. Albanese’s remarks clearly depict India’s growing influence and prominent voice in global affairs with the world’s fourth-largest armed force, and the third-largest economy in terms of purchasing power. PM Modi’s overwhelming welcome in the United States recently is another proof that India is a key player that cannot be ignored in world affairs.
According to a survey conducted by Pew Research, India, today is a bigger player in the international arena than it was a decade ago. More than half the people in Canada (52%), Australia (53%) and Japan (54%) have a favourable view of India. In fact as Clyde Prestowitz one of America’s top foreign trade experts and a counselor to the secretary of commerce in the first Ronald Reagan administration had predicted, “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.”
The dictionary definition of “superpower” refers to a nation or state that possesses extensive political, economic, and military influence and capabilities on a global scale. Superpowers are considered “superior” because of their exceptional power or influence to shape global affairs, impact international relations, and control or dominate military, technological, economic and geopolitical affairs in other countries. However contrary to the term, to be a superpower does not imply being a giant in terms of territory or population.
Not without reason there was a time when Great Britain, a relatively small island, smaller than other European nations, ruled the world as almost the sole superpower between 1850 and 1910. However, after the Second World War, the term superpower was used to describe the USA and the Soviet Union which emerged as the most powerful countries – and almost every other country aligned its political, economic, and security systems with one side or the other. However, after the disintegration of the Soviet Union in the 90s, the USA emerged as the one and only superpower.
The factors in favour of India include the world’s second-largest educated and English-speaking population, the world’s fourth-largest armed force, and the third-largest economy in terms of purchasing power.
Some of the other advantages of India include:
- world’s youngest population
- largest middle-class population in the world by 2030
- almost 30 percent of the world’s workforce by 2030
- fourth-largest source of technology start-ups globally
- ranking among the most-favoured investment destinations for multinational corporations
According to Goldman Sachs Research, China will overtake the U.S. as the world’s largest economy by around 2035. In 2050, the world’s five largest economies will be China, the U.S., India, Indonesia, and (perhaps) Germany, while India will catch up and emerge as the world’s second-largest economy overtaking the USA by 2075.
Currently, the United States is still the global superpower with the highest GDP globally and 27% of all transnational companies worldwide. While the United States spends more on defence than the next nine highest-spending countries (China, India, Russia, the U.K., Saudi Arabia, Germany, France, Japan, and South Korea) combined, China is regarded as an emerging superpower that will surpass the United States in the coming decades. China displaced the United States as the world’s top manufacturing hub about 10 years ago and continues to influence world trade and economy– by contributing 28.7% of Global Manufacturing Output.
Is China an overrated myth?
Many analysts say that China is often overrated. China’s population is ageing faster than almost all other countries in modern history. Almost 39 percent of China’s population will be of retirement age by 2050. As a result, the average Chinese in 2050 ought to be substantially poorer than the average American was in 2005.
According to analysts China, despite being an economic power that can influence many nations, does not fully qualify as a superpower because it has few friends or allies and has hostile or difficult relations with several neighbours, although it has extensive economic and financial relations with much of the rest of the world.
Likewise, commentators say that the EU is not and never will be a superpower primarily because of the lack of a unified foreign policy and the inability to project military power worldwide.
According to a US National Intelligence Council “Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds report, “The world of 2030 will be radically transformed from our world today. By 2030, no country—whether the US, China or any other large country—will be a hegemonic power. The empowerment of individuals and diffusion of power among states and from states to informal networks will have a dramatic impact, largely reversing the historic rise of the West since 1750, restoring Asia’s weight in the global economy, and ushering in a new era of “democratization “at the international and domestic level, the report adds.
According to FICCI and McKinsey & Co report titled “India’s Century – Achieving Sustainable, inclusive growth”, India has the potential to become an “economic superpower” before the 100th year of Independence (2047).
The country is uniquely poised to build on its endowments and achieve broad-based prosperity by this landmark – by creating 60 crores (600 million) jobs to gainfully employ a growing workforce and increasing per capita income sixfold to ₹1 million.
“By 2047, between 25 and 30 percent of the population in advanced economies is projected to be over 60 years old. In sharp contrast, India’s population will be young and growing. In 2047, India is expected to be home to around 20 percent of the world’s working-age population, able to meet the shifting global demand for products and services. India could provide the world with labour, becoming a leading talent pool in many sectors at home and abroad including healthcare; science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM); and professional services. This could be further strengthened if India fosters a socioeconomic environment that helps retain the best talent”, the report adds.
Another report called “Indian Century: Defining India’s Place in a Rapidly Changing Global Economy” by IBM Institute for Business Value, has also predicted that India will be among the world’s highest-growth nations over the coming years. Indian-origin CEOs are leading several of the world’s biggest companies.
The writing on the wall is quite clear – India has the potential to dominate world affairs. Some of its areas of strength include – a large population, a strong network of elite educational institutions, a booming high-tech sector and an established functioning democracy.