Before thinking whether India needs to become a superpower or not, we need to understand the term ‘superpower’. Superpowers are nations that wield considerable influence over the world and possess significant economic, technological and military power. In the era of cold war, the so called superpowers were USSR and USA. When some nation gains significant muscle in all three domains , it is termed as a superpower.
With approximately 20% of world’s population residing on 2% of its land area with two hostile nations in its neighborhood, India will have to build considerable capabilities in the economic, defence and technological domain to survive as a functional nation in the first place. Though this sounds like an ominous situation , we can also see this as a opportunity. To protect our vital national interests and to secure the well being of our nation, we need to aspire for the status of a superpower.
Before going into the benefits of being a superpower, we must examine the consequences of aiming low and under-performing with respect to other nations in the areas of technology , economics and security of the nation.
Rapid technological innovations are happening around the world. If India remains behind other nations, we will not be able to compete in the international trade market. For example, the IT sector is facing huge pressure due to automation of several functions in the industry. Job losses and dip in exports could lead to several repercussions for India at the micro as well as macroeconomic situation of the country.
To remain competitive in any industry, any firm or nation must upgrade and innovate continuously. If India doesn’t have the technology or products, it will have to import these commodities from abroad. This will drain our resources and inhibit our capability to spend on vital sectors like health, education and poverty alleviation. Our defence expenditure is already high because of our technological backwardness in this domain. Indian forces are highly dependent on USA, Israel and Russia for defence equipment. Depending on other nations for defence supplies is not a good plan in the long run. Hence we, need to aspire to become a technological power to secure our economic interests and security requirements.
A technologically backward nation that imports its products will also weaken in the economic domain. If our share in trade and GDP of the world drops , our ability to sustain our huge population will also reduce. Drop in incomes, unemployment, inflation, poverty and other consequences of macroeconomic problems will lead to social unrest and loss of faith in our democracy and public institutions. The entire social fabric of the nation will be in danger if we fail to perform in the economic domain. The example for this kind of breakdown is seen in Venezuela where people are protesting and rioting for the past few months against a government that is unable to contain inflation.
Economic well being is a key to social well being and stability of the democracy and political institutions. Hence India needs to become a economic superpower in order to sustain her huge population and secure order in society and sustenance of the democratic and plural society in the country.
Once a nation becomes weak socially, economically and technologically, it becomes an easy prey to hostile nations in its vicinity. India is vulnerable to attack from two nuclear powers in its neighborhood. Pakistan has a visceral hatred and mad desire to see India fail. China is hungry for territory and has shown no hesitation to trespass into our territory. If India aims for anything short of a superpower status, we would become vulnerable to hostile nations like China and Pakistan who are working hand in hand to undermine India.
In this light, India needs to strengthen defence forces and technology continuously in order to secure her territory . Hence India needs to become a military superpower to be capable to fight two hostile enemies in her neighborhood and defend the nation.
The consequences of India not becoming a superpower will affect the nation adversely. However, India’s superpower status benefit the nation as well as the entire world. The whole world needs our leadership. A strong India will be a force for good in the entire world. Our democratic values, multicultural, multi religious social fabric and pacifist values are a shining example for the entire world to emulate.
India can lead the world in combating key challenges like terrorism and climate change. We have one of the world’s largest Muslim population in the world. Yet, terrorist organisations like ISIS , Al Quaeda have not been able to make deep inroads into our nation. Indian Muslims and clerics have been a great example to the rest of the world in resisting , shunning and condemning terrorism.
In the domain of climate change, India has a lot to offer to the world. We are a nation that worships plants , animals and forests. The concept of sacred forests prevalent in the north east and tribal areas of India are unique. We see rivers and mountains as divine entities. The sense of reverence to the nature can go a long way in realigning the lifestyle and food habits of the world to combat climate change and greenhouse gas emissions.
As a voice for all exploited and underdeveloped nations, India can balance the hegemony of the west over key international institutions like IMF, United Nations and WTO. Once we grow economically and secure our nation with a robust security apparatus, the world will respect India and accord it a status which is fitting for a strong nation in these institutions. India can use this position to speak for underdeveloped nations in the Africa and Asia.
Though we can feel proud of the ‘soft power’ tag, it might not lead to substantial gains in international politics. Yoga, Bollywood and classical arts only a part of the big picture. It would be a grave mistake to assume that ‘soft power’ status is the ultimate goal of India in the comity of nations.
It is nice to be like by all , but it is also necessary for others to fear us. No nation in the world must feel that it can get away with any kind of aggression or mischief as far as India is concerned. For that to happen India must strengthen her economy, defence apparatus and technological capabilities. Only then will we be able to sustain our growing population and provide leadership to the world. It will be a voice for democracy , pluralism and equality for all nations of the world irrespective of their size or wealth. Hence India must attain a superpower status not only for its own existence but also to help the entire world is establishing, peace , prosperity and harmonious coexistence.