India is expected to become one of the most powerful countries in the time to come. There is a lot of discussion and excitement around it; there’s even a Wikipedia page dedicated to it. However, in a majority of these discussions, the term superpower is used in the context of economic growth, monetary and tax policies, military buildup, the young workforce, energy and geopolitical relations.
However, the truth is that the only way India can become a superpower is by rethinking its definition of ‘superpower’ itself. Here are five ways India can become a superpower by 2030:
Originally defined as a state of growth or advancement, this word has been used as the biggest excuse to exploit not just nature and its resources, but also human beings. Development, usually spoken about in the context of infrastructure, industries, and modern facilities, has been forced on people and their surrounding areas at the cost of the livelihood, health and rights of the very people who are claimed to be the beneficiaries.
The first example that I can think of when it comes to this ‘forced development’ is Jadugoda, a village which has been suffering from radiation poisoning due to the uranium mine set up by the government in the 1960s. Another example is the forceful eviction of over 1 lakh people for the Smart Cities Project.
While setting up smart cities, industries, mines and power plants may be essential for the growth of the economy – and to provide seamless access to facilities to the ever growing population of India, the human and environmental cost of this development needs to be considered before making decisions. India ranked 133 out of 188 on the Human Development Index last year. “Who is the development for and is it sustainable and ethical?” is an important question that the country needs to ask itself.
India’s government has been fighting a losing battle when it comes to implementing and enforcing the laws that they create. Legislation alone is never enough to reduce crime or stop it from recurring. Laws pertaining to violence against women, reducing environmental degradation, forest rights, land rights, farmers rights, etc. still face problems when it comes to actually going through with them.
Apart from understanding the difference between making promises and carrying them out, not just during elections but also otherwise, India needs to realise that a ‘welfare state’ ensures that its claims and legislation convert to action and implementation. According to the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index, Netherlands ranks #1 globally when it comes to effective and timely enforcement of laws, whilst India ranks #66 out of 113 nations.
A superpower’s ‘superpower’ is that it doesn’t limit or hinder its citizens’ expressions in any way – be it through mediums of expression like film, art, literature or through mediums of communication like the internet and media. A country that wants to be among the greatest countries in the world shouldn’t censor social media posts or launch a full-throttle campaign against a movie while placing a bounty on the lead actress’s nose.
Free speech is a characteristic of a country that is confident and convinced of its place in the world. It is a mark of people who are not radical, but sensible. It is also the strength of people who realise that dividing ourselves against each other without acknowledging the shortcomings is unrealistic and dysfunctional. Instead of criminalising people or launching a vendetta against and arresting them for presenting an opinion different from their own, accepting criticism and listening to feedback can actually lead to constructive changes, aiding the nation’s progress.
India is the fourth worst country in the world when it comes to religious intolerance. Be it the state or the people themselves, recognising equality in diversity is vital to ensure peace between people of different castes, religions, gender, communities, etc. A lot of riots and unrest are caused due to people being divided into the ‘exploiters’ and the ‘exploited’. A country cannot progress if its own people are divided and fighting each other, instead of going against the already-existing evils like illiteracy, poverty, environmental destruction, etc.
Irrespective of gender, caste, sexual orientation, economic background, religion, nationality, regionality, etc, all citizens’ rights need to be respected and discrimination on the basis of such factors should be discouraged. Addressing each cause with empathy and understanding, not bearing any ulterior motives and not dismissing any section’s plight is an almost impossible but a humane way to solve problems. Only when the focus shifts from working against one another to working for something bigger, will India develop – on all fronts.
Addressing the fundamental needs of the citizens is indispensable if a country is to succeed. Since economic growth and development seems to be the prime focus of this nation, it is imperative to understand that the country develops only with the help of its workforce. The people who bring about development deserve easy access to education, livelihood, water, food, medical facilities, electricity, etc.
Prioritising the well-being of people also necessitates the reduction of corruption and sensitisation about privilege. The deep divide between the privileged and underprivileged is not something that will aid success.
Although denial seems to be the most popular strategy for dealing with problems, one cannot deal with scientific facts the same way. From the denial of the reproductive abilities of peacocks to the assumption that Darwin’s theory of evolution is wrong to Modi’s strange statements about climate change to claiming that chowmein leads to hormonal imbalance, which apparently evokes an urge to indulge in acts such as rape and sex – India is full of denial and shifting blame on to others. Using ancient manuscripts and mythological stories to deal with 21st-century problems is not exactly a progressive ideology.
Acknowledging the lack of awareness (regarding science and major issues like environmental degradation and global warming) and working towards increasing it is a better strategy than refuting the mere possibility of India being wrong in one of its stances due to its rich heritage and culture.
If India really wants to become a superpower, it can do so only by understanding and enforcing points such as the ones mentioned above. Recalibration of priorities and putting people’s welfare ahead of capitalistic gains will go a long way in creating a sustainable and steady superpower out of India, rather than a short-lived one.