By Rudroneel Ghosh, IndiaEnews.COM
Monday, June 26th, 2006,
A recently conducted study by the renowned Economist Intelligence Unit or the EIU called ‘Foresight 2020’ has come up with some predictions that all Indians can be excited about. The study, which was sponsored by telecommunication and networking giant ‘CISCO Systems’, sought to predict global economic trends in the next fifteen years. This involved interviewing over 1600 executives from 100 different counties and a comprehensive study of eight key industrial sectors. And what did all of this research come up with? Well hold your breaths, this is a big one. The study predicted huge economic development in Asia led by China and India. The Indian economy will be among the fastest growing economies in the world, outpacing some of the big industrialized giants. The national economy is pegged to grow at a rate of 5.9% annually till 2020 with India contributing as much as 12.2% to the global economic growth.
Sounds delicious? Wait, it gets better. By 2020, India will contribute as much as 8.8% to the global GDP. India as a trading nation will record the biggest jump ever going from rank 24th to rank 10th in the world. India alone will account for 30% in the global net employment growth with 142 million new jobs. India’s share in the world consumer spending is also set to grow from 1.9% in 2005 to 3.1% by 2020.
All these numbers point to one thing, that India is fast emerging as an economic giant which has prompted many to believe that India will become a superpower in the next fifteen years. No matter how exciting this sounds, there are major bones of contention to be picked in this one. First of all, economic development apart should India even consider being a superpower? To be more basic, who is a superpower? And are speculative numbers enough to ensure that we become one? To be honest, the first country that comes to mind when we think of a superpower is the United States. So what makes it a superpower? To put it simply, the thing that makes America a superpower is its ability to dictate terms to the rest of the world. There isn’t another country that possesses such an ability to such an extent, which can be so visibly seen in each and every global field whether that be global politics or global economics etc. After all the entire world does go into a tizzy when the Dollar falls by a couple of notches, or when the markets in the US crash or when the US pulls out of an important international forum.
The mere influence that the United States exercises over the international community is worthy of branding it a superpower. But the question to be asked and considered here is should that be India’s aim? Should India follow in the footsteps of America? And is potential economic growth all that it is made out to be?
Lets take up the first one. Yes, the United States is a superpower and no one is debating that. But that doesn’t just necessarily make it a model nation to be followed as an example. Apart from its dubious foreign policies which keeps getting questioned even till date there are genuine domestic problems that plague the country. Granted that it is the greatest economic power on earth but it still faces problems of unemployment, abject poverty, beggary etc. Granted that it is the greatest military power of our times but internally it still faces problems of law and order with one of the highest crime rates in the world. If that wasn’t enough there are other problems like education. The United States officially has one of the lowest standards of schooling in the entire world. It also has the largest number of students dropping out of schools each year. All of this compounds to various social problems such as the problem of ‘inner city kids’ or kids who come from poor families who do not have much family support and drop out of school easily. They are also the ones who most likely end up on the wrong side of the law. Besides all that there are other wider social problems such as economic and political disparity between the Whites and other racial groups such as the Blacks, Hispanics etc.
Apart from all these internal social problems there are the external ones that come along with being a superpower. Being a superpower commands respect, but it also generates hatred. There is a virtually non-existent line between a superpower and a bully. You are a superpower because you have the ability to exercise influence over others. Given that international relations is not all love and roses it is only apparent that a superpower is nothing but a tag given to the biggest bully around. And the United States is definitely the biggest player in the world. But this also makes it the most hated country in the world. There is no other country in the international community that is more hated than the United States. It is hated because it is a superpower and no one can ignore that. That’s why it is the number one country on the hit list of practically each and every terrorist organization on the planet.
So should India become another America? There is nothing wrong in being economically strong and being an important entity in international politics. But we should always look inwards rather than outwards. The only one that India should try and influence is itself. We have enough problems of our own that need immediate attention. Problems like poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, lack of proper health care facilities, the great rural-urban divide, law and order, empowerment of women in society etc. are enough to keep us occupied internally. Also, if such great economic development is projected in the coming fifteen years we should take every measure to ensure that it percolates to the very grass-root level and that it is accompanied with social change and social development. After all economic development without social development makes no sense at all. It is nothing but one step forward and two steps back. In short, there are many more problems that come with being a superpower that we can simply do without.
Lastly, the main reason India should never try to be a superpower is because once you become a superpower there is no turning back. The United States will still be the United States fifteen years down the line and it will still have all the problems that come along with being a superpower. India should make that decision right now and never ever try to pursue being a superpower. Let us strive to be a model nation that is respected by all. Let us try to be a nation that is but an example for others to follow. Let the only people we ever dominate be us. For it is only in being internally strong can we truly progress and develop as a nation and as a society.