inda : superpower?

ndia – A Super Power in Making
Siddhartha Dash
“India is not just a piece of earth; she is power,
a Godhead”. This is how Sri Aurobindo looked
at this country and its rich ancient civilisation.
But all that he wanted fellow Indians to have
was “the firm faith that India must rise and be
The nationhood which India acquired in
the 20th Century, fulfilling the dreams of Asoka,
Akbar and Gandhi, has now brought it to the
threshold of Great Power status at the beginning
of the 21st. It is now widely accepted that the
new century will be an Asian one. The US may
still be a super-power in its early decades,
carrying on from the New World the supremacy
which old European powers have lost. But the
future beckons India.
What Makes a Nation Super-Power ?
To be a super power a country must
(a) have a sizeable but manageable
population (barring perhaps china);
(b) be endowed with unity, political
cohesion and stability;
(c) have structured its national economic
orders which are efficient, competitive and
(d) have trained manpower resources and
high levels of technological capacities;
(e) have high levels of defence and military
capacities including nuclear weapons;
preferably be a democracy.
Can India be a Super-Power ?
Keeping these benchmarks in view, is
India capable of a great power status in the
21st century ?
We gave unto ourselves a democractic
Constitution, extolled as one of the best by
many world statesmen. It has stood the test of
nearly 55 tumultuous years. Our democracy,
our thriving free media, our contentious NGOs,
our energetic human rights groups, and the
repeated spectacle of our remarkable general
elections have all made India a rare example
of the successful management of diversity in
the developing world. Let us not forget that
several nations of South East Asia and Africa,
which got freedom almost alongwith us, have
strayed away from democracy and have
suffered long years of more ruthless native
despotic rule in place of foreign despotic rule.
India is among the first 15 economic
powers of the world. We have travelled a long
way from the pitiable predicament of having
to live “from ship to mouth” and attained
comfortable self-sufficiency in food. After a
decade of economic reforms India has emerged
as an economic superpower in the making.
India’s Gross National Income, on purchasing
power party basis, was $ 2375 billion in 2000.
This makes India the fourth largest economy in
the world after the United States, China and
Page 2
Orissa Review * April – 2005
Japan. The great Indian middle class is
currently over 250 million that beckons
investors and exporters. We have made a dent
in Information Technology. We have largest
number of trained scientists in the world.
India’s foreign exchanges reserve has risen
from a barely $ 1 billion to over $129 billion.
India has the fourth largest army in the
world and is among the seven or eight countries
which have confirmed capacities in nuclear
technology, space technology etc. Of late, India
has also begun to commercialise indigenously
developed satellites, defence equipments and
peaceful nuclear products and technologies,
which is a distinct imitation of superpower
But, what is India’s most significant
achievement ? It may well be the triumph of
multiculturalism. India with its unbelievable
4,635 communities and 325 languages has not
only happily survived but continues to derive
immense pride from the fact of this wonderful
diversity enriching its culture. This
civilisational ethos has been an immeasurable
asset for our country.
Factors Against India
The factors which can prevent us from
becoming an important power are :
(a) ineffective
(b) high levels of illiteracy;
(c) poor quality of national politics;
(d) our economy, despite reforms, is not
efficient or productive, and does not ensure
distributive justice for our vast population;
(e) lack of scientific temper;
(f) we still do not produce nuclear
submarines, aircraft carriers etc.
(g) we still have to plan a pattern of strategic
equations with other power centers of the
World. We have to resolve our problems with
our neighbours, only then we can move
effectively on to the international stage.
As of now, India is still far from the status
of superpowerdom. At present we are
considered as a regional power. We are
confined largely to the South Asian region, and
may be South-East Asian region. Undoubtedly,
serious deficiencies have remained; fresh
weaknesses have emerged; new dangers have
arisen. Still, it would be wrong not to
acknowledge that India has made substantial
all round progress; its achievements in the last
fifty-eight years have been considerable by any
historical standards, especially if we keep in
view the level from which it started and ‘how
difficult was the terrain along which we had
to tread.’
How can India be a Global Powerhouse ?
India can be an influential power
provided :
(a) We consolidate our national unity and
ensure political stability;
(b) we undertake a positive programme of
public health and public education;
(c) we vigorously pursue the objective of
economic reforms and modernisation;
(d) we undertake programme to enhance our
scientific and technological capacities on a
continuous basis;
(e) we do not succumb to international
pressure and do not in any way reduce our
defence, nuclear and missile capacities;
we concentrate our efforts to establish a
co-operative and working relationship with all
our neighbours.


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