By Vasundhara Krishna
Edited by Anjini Chandra, Senior Editor, The Indian Economist
A global power is a sovereign state that is recognized as having the ability to exert its influence on a global scale. Global powers characteristically possess military and economic strength, as well as a strong diplomatic influence, which may cause other countries to consider their opinions before taking actions of their own.
International relations theorists have posited that a great power status can be characterized into power capabilities, spatial aspects and status dimensions. Sometimes, the status of global powers is formally recognized in an international structure such as the United Nations Security Council.
Presently, the United States is the major global power, however, there has been a lot of transition in the last two decades. China and India are now potential contenders for the position of the next global power, thus shifting the balance of power from the West towards Asia.
India is a rising global power primarily because of its recognition as a major soft power; the ability of a country to persuade others to do what it wants, without force or coercion. India threatens no one and is friend to many. Much of the globe sees India as a relatively non-violent, tolerant and pluralistic democracy, with a benign international influence.
There is no denying the fact that India has been a global attraction for past few decades. It has shown the world that it has got an inexhaustible zeal to face the odds that come its way, along with a deep belief in the altruistic ideals of a democratic state. Since its freedom from the coercive rule of exploitative and insensitive rulers, it has held its head high amidst all odds, without compromising its secular and socialistic ideals. It has also attracted global attention on account of its unflinching regard for the basic tenets of a forward looking society, which does not approve of a system of governance which neglects the common will of the masses.
The U.S., with its Indo-U.S. nuclear deal, accorded India special treatment in nuclear cooperation. The deal provided benefits usually reserved for Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) signatories. Washington justified cooperation with India by highlighting Delhi’s impeccable non-proliferation record. This stance was replicated by other states, including the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) member states that allowed India’s participation in international nuclear commerce and supported the Indo-U.S. deal. The IAEA’s (International Atomic Energy Agency) Board of Governors endorsed a nuclear safeguards agreement with India by consensus that would permit Delhi to add more nuclear facilities to be placed under the IAEA safeguards framework.
India has also received favourable treatment from Canada, which agreed to supply “dual-use items” that can be used for civilian and military applications, as well as from Japan and South Korea. Even Australia was willing to permit civilian nuclear cooperation with India and signed an agreement with India, which would enable us to import uranium from Australia.
Today, India is the only known nuclear weapons state that is not part of the NPT but is still permitted to engage in nuclear commerce globally. India is also asking for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council and many countries have supported this demand, considering the gradual shift towards a multi polar world.
India is the third largest economy in the world by the PPP (purchasing power parity) method. We provide one of the largest lucrative markets and companies compete to sell in India. India’s growing power can be seen from the fact that recently, our Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has had multiple bilateral agreements with many nations like the USA, Nepal, Bangladesh, Japan, China, Australia and Vietnam. All these nations are eager to be associated with India and maintain friendly strategic relations.
India also ranks amongst the top countries of the world in terms of space technology. We been successful in launching various satellites, like the Aryabhata, Bhaskara 1, Apple, Bhaskara 2, Insat 1B and the Chandrayaan. The latest phenomenal mission accomplished was the launch of a Mars orbiter Spacecraft, making this country the first to achieve such a feat in it’s maiden attempt and also, in one-tenth the cost incurred by the USA.
India is one of the few countries in the world that lends to the IMF as a part of its Financial Transaction Plan (FTP). This is a plan to help with the BOP (Balance of Payment) of impoverished, low income countries. India is possibly the only country to have graduated from being a borrower to a lender, in just two decades. In 1991, India had borrowed huge sum of money during its BOP crisis.
We have a very efficient, upgraded defence system as well. The Nirbhaya missile is an example; it is probably the only missile in the world to travel at a tree-top level.
We also have a massive, highly skilled workforce in the IT sector. India is the main hub for the offshore offices of various multinationals.
We are fortunate to be able to boast of a favourable demographic dividend, especially as compared to the ageing work forces of other major economies. This means that we have more people in a working age group, which will help achieve faster growth.
We are the pioneers of Ayurveda and Yoga, the importance of which is gradually being recognized in the world.
However, there are certain impediments in India’s way to become a global power.
The first and foremost being that almost half the population is impoverished. A country cannot become a global power when its people are hungry, homeless and sick. India is home to the maximum number of poor people in the world. This constitutes a problem as a country’s resources must first go into feeding its people and thus, it will be left with a lot less for other areas.
Another sight which shows a gloomy picture is of manual scavengers in India. Despite the law passed in 1993 which states that manual scavenging is not allowed, the practice still continues and there has not been a single conviction since 1993. This not only reveals the harsh truth about this issue in particular but also shows how rules are flouted in India, with no implementation despite of the presence of appropriate laws.
Another problem we see is although foreign companies see India as a viable market, they do not want to manufacture in India, due to the complex rules and bureaucratic red tape. For the same reason, indigenous manufactures are less and India ranks 134 out of 189 in the “ease of doing business index”, published by the World Bank. There are complex labour laws too which make it difficult for the employer to hire and fire.
We import a major chunk of our defence equipment and do not have the capacity to build them by ourselves. We import more than we export and this keeps us in perpetual trade deficit. There is not enough attention given to technological innovation, entrepreneurship and there is an abysmally low amount of research and development that is carried out.
There has been an attempt by the newly elected Prime Minister to redress all these issues which impede India from becoming a global power. He launched an initiative called “Make In India”, which urges both domestic and foreign companies to manufacture in India. For this he has brought about several provisions that will help in facilitating a business, rather than preventing it in the name of regulation. An online portal has been created, which will clarify all doubts on policy issues, help obtain clearances from all ministries and will also follow important investors, to attract them by redressing their issues and queries.
Reforms have been proposed in the labour laws to make hiring easier for these companies. All these measures are expected to increase the share of manufacturing in the country and hence raise employment, which, in turn can reduce poverty.
PM Narendra Modi has also signed an agreement with other nations, urging them to bring FDI’s(foreign direct investment) to India, so that with them, they also bring the technical know-how of manufacturing and management. Recently signed agreements in reference to importing defence equipment also involve the clause that they will also help us in manufacturing the same equipment that we import.
A higher percentage of our GDP should be invested in research and development in the agricultural sector so that there is greater productivity. People engaged in agriculture can be given a chance to break free from the shackles of poverty and this will also reduce distress or forced migration.
India has immense potential and can go a long way. The many hurdles it will encounter on its way to reach that position can be conquered with determination, pragmatism, dynamic leadership and patience. One day we shall feel pride in being the citizens of a global power
Vasundhara Krishna is an economics graduate from Miranda House (DU).She enjoys delving deep into economic issues as she thinks that if ever we are to become a global power, it will be riding on the back of sound economics. She has been a sports person since childhood with a particular inclination towards Table Tennis. Also she is a movie buff who thinks there can be never too much of drama. You can reach her at[email protected]