India’s Aspiration to be a Global Superpower: Here is the Reality Check
For the last couple of decades, India is aspiring to be a regional power in the South-East Asian region. The country has achieved the status of a regional leader, and currently, it is playing an influential role in the region. Though the perception of the country has changed significantly in the global arena, it is still an early stage to consider India as a global superpower. But, history suggests that no country ever achieved the superpower status within a decade or two, and the same is the case with India.
India has so many signs of becoming a global superpower, but there are several aspects that the country needs to work upon. Here, in this article, you will know whether India can become a global superpower or not. But, before rushing to the theme of the article that focuses on “India superpower,” first, let’s discuss the characteristics of a superpower nation in the 21st century.
What Qualifies a Nation to be a Superpower?
History suggests that a superpower nation needs to be economically stronger. The UK was the first superpower nation in the modern world, and it had a massive amount of wealth to fight wars. War is nothing but a luxury, and a country lacking in financial resources cannot fight a war for a longer duration.
In the 20th century, the world became bi-polar. Both USSR and the United States had enough financial resources to continue their cold war. Both countries spent a huge amount of sum on their military and space exploration. Once the USSR market crashed, it lost the status of a superpower. Things have not changed yet; a country needs to have enough financial power to become a global superpower. One can take the example of China, which is emerging as a superpower. The strong Chinese economy is helping the country to excel at a global level.
An advanced and capable military is necessary for a superpower. Be it the United Kingdom in the 18th and 19th century, or the United States and USSR in the 20th century, all these superpowers developed modern and capable armed forces to protect their interests. Therefore, a superpower required to have deadly armed forces.
Besides, soft power also plays an important role in building a country’s perception around the world. The United States successfully convinces the entire world to attack Iraq after 9/11. The country used its powerful and so-called credible media to create a fake narrative and influence the global community.
Now you might ask, Can India become a superpower? Let’s discuss why India can be a superpower in the near future.
Here is Why India can be the Next Global Superpower
The Growing Economy
The recent report from the International Monetary fund (IMF)reveals that India, with a massive GDP of $2.94 trillion, is currently the 5th largest economies in the world, only behind the United States, China, Japan, and Germany. Besides, India ranks at number 3 in the world, in terms of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP), just behind China and the United States. For the last several years, India is leading the world in terms of GDP growth rate. Despite the recent fall, currently, India is the fastest-growing major economy in the world. The excellent economic performance of the country is attracting a lot of big investors, which will develop the country further.
The Biggest Available Market
As the economic condition in the country is improving, the purchasing power of the common people is rising as well. With more than 1.3 billion population, India is offering the biggest middle-class market in the world. The country is becoming an ideal field for businesses to address the increasing demand. The low labor cost is further helping the manufacturers to keep the value of their products low.
A Highly Capable Military
India is blessed with an extremely strong military. India’s active ground force is one of the best in the world. In terms of numbers, the Indian army stands at number three in the world. Indian army trains the troops of all the NATO countries before their Afghanistan posting.
Indian Air Force is quite unique in the world. The fighter fleet of the Indian Air Force consists of Russian and European aircraft. In contrast, the transport fleet uses the best aircraft from the United States, like Super Hercules, and C-130 Globemaster.
Indian Navy is one of the most experienced navies in Asia. The rapid indigenization of the Indian Navy is helping the country to improve its firepower in a short period. Besides, India has its own nuclear program and successfully tested its nuclear power a couple of times in the past. But most importantly, India has the potential to fire its nuclear loads from air, ground, water surface, and under the water.
The Indian armed forces are quite capable, and they are fighting continuously against the terrorism sponsored by their neighboring countries.
India is a superpower in terms of diplomacy. The entire world is appreciating the role of India in the South East Asian region, and most countries know the importance of India in the global arena. India’s robust diplomacy plays a significant role in changing perception. Except for China, all the P5 countries are openly supporting the country’s demand for permanent membership in the United nation Security Council.
Things that India should Do to Become a Superpower
Though India has many factors in its favor for a potential superpower, there are several things that the country needs to adopt in order to become a global superpower.
Modernization of Military
India has a mighty capable defense force that ranks number four across the world. But, a capable military force needs an advanced weapon system to win a war, and the same is not the case with India. Most of the equipment that the armed forces using is quite outdated, and they need an urgent upgrade to match up with the existing superpowers. Indian Air Force lacks in number and currently in no position to fight a two-front war. India can never be a superpower if it does not address the basic military up-gradation. Therefore, India needs to improve its number as well as the quality of the equipment to become a superpower.
India is the second biggest importer of arms and ammunition in the world, which is not a good sign. Though the government’s flagship program, like Make in India, is boosting defense production in the country, it is still far behind to address the original requirement. Once India starts to produce its own weapons, the modernization program will be far more economical. Besides, India can export its weapon to small countries to boost its economy.
The Indian Ocean Holds the Key
India is placed in an advantageous position in the Indian Ocean region. The Indian Ocean is a crucial route for oil transportation and other business goods. Therefore, to become a superpower, India needs to be proactive in the Indian Ocean region. Though the Indian Navy felt its presence in the region quite often, the country is yet to take any considerable measure to control the ocean. The growing presence of the Chinese Navy in the Indian Ocean region is a cause of concern for India. Therefore, India should tie-up with other friendly Asian nations like Japan and control the Indian Ocean region.
A Considerable Increase in Export is the Need of the Hour
Like most other nations, India is primarily dependent on the Gulf countries for its crude oil requirements, which tremendously increase the import number of the country. According to the 2018-19 financial year data, the cumulative export of India stands at 330 billion USD after showing a growth of around 9% from the last year. But, on the other hand, India imports goods and services of around 514 billion USD from different parts of the country.
If you read the Indian economy in detail, you will get to know that the country’s economic model skipped the manufacturing sector and directly jumped to the service sector from the agricultural sector. Therefore, India does not produce enough goods to export to other countries. As a result, Indian exports are only limited to agricultural products, services, and raw materials.
The present trade deficit is not helping the country in any manner. Therefore, the country needs to increase its export in order to enjoy a stable economic condition.
Following the Chinese Investment Model
In the past decade, China started to invest heavily in small countries. The most populous nation in the world is developing the basic infrastructure in a number of countries. Investing in a foreign nation helps to build a good diplomatic relation, and most importantly, the investors earn the goodwill of the population. Therefore, in most cases, these countries will support China in the international forum. Besides, China can easily access these roads and railways infrastructure to avail of its goods and services.
India required to use the same tactics in order to make friends. But, India is currently investing in many neighboring countries, like Afganistan, Iran, Nepal, Sri Lanks, and African nations on a small scale. But, the problem lies in the bureaucratic delay. Most of the India-invested projects are delayed owing to the late payment.
Such an attitude projects the wrong perception of the country. Therefore, India needs to act quickly and increase the investment amount in order to pose a challenge against China. India can take the help of countries like the United States and Japan to start building infrastructure in foreign nations.
Usage of Hard Power
If you look at history, there was not even a single nation becoming superpower without using their military. The United States has spent trillions of dollars in the middle-east and Afghanistan conflict. The British extensively used their hard power to rule over the world, and the same is the case with Russia and USSR.
So, using the armed forces in foreign soil is a tried and tested formula for becoming a superpower. Therefore, to become a superpower, India needs to utilize its armed forces for the piece of the region. India can choose events like the attack on ISIS, sending troops to stabilize a country for engaging its army in other countries.
Creating an International-Standard Media House
Every strong country has their own media. A capable media will help in building a narrative for the country, and convince the world on its perspective. Superpowers like the United States and the United Kingdom effectively used their state-run media to achieve their respective goals. Very soon, China realized the advantage of having a credible media house and launched its own.
But, on the other hand, India does not have any state-run international standard media house. Private entities run most of the media houses in India. Therefore, India needs to create its own media house to better visibility in the international arena.
During the cold war, the world was bipolar, several were inclined towards USSR, and a number of countries were supporting the United States. After the dissolution of the USSR in the late 80s and early 90s, the world had only one superpower, and that was the United States. In the 21st century, China emerged as a regional leader in the Asian block and later claimed to be a global superpower.
In recent times, the United States, under the leadership of Donald Trump, is more interested in their domestic affairs and pulling themselves from the multiple important platforms, such as UNESCO, Syria, Afghanistan, etc. Countries like China, Japan, and India are expected to take the place of the United States in the global arena. Currently, the world is matured enough to accept multiple superpowers. Hence, it is a perfect chance for a country like India to step up and show humanity a better future.
So, will India be a superpower country? the answer is a big yes, there is no reason why India will never be a superpower. But only if the country acts positively on the aspects mentioned above.