Glorious India @75: India Matters to the World

Gone are the days when India was caricatured as the land of snake charmers and starving children. Thanks to the giant strides we have made in the spheres of technology, finance, and defence, our economy is giving the Western nations a run for their money. From being relegated to the back row in meets, the Indian Prime Minister today takes centre stage and is sought-after by other leaders. It has been an arduous journey, but surely, India is about to break more than a few glass ceilings.

By Maj Gen CP Singh

Special Feature Archive
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Prime Minister of Denmark Mette Frederiksen upon his arrival in Copenhagen, Denmark

“Hele verden vil være venner med Indien” (Everyone wants to be friends with India)

These were the headlines of prominent Newspapers in Denmark when the PM of India visited Denmark and Eastern Europe in May 2022. This statement reflects the importance of India in the world & prominence of our leader. The Prime Minister of India was a special invitee at the G-7 Meet in Germany, which was held in June this year. It was a delightful sight to see President Joe Biden of the USA walking up to PM Narendra Modi to greet him and shake hands with him. Regardless of which part of the world he goes to, Prime Minister Modi is received warmly and receives standing ovations.

we exported vaccines and life-saving medicines to more than 100 countries in the world, including the USA

While the personal charisma of the leaders does have an impact, it is the Prime Minister of India whom everyone wants to meet; the position, rather than the individual. Have no doubts about it!  India matters to the world today!

Nation states do not become great overnight. They must undergo baptism by fire and rise over the years for the rest of the world to take notice. The enviable progress made by India in the last 75 years since independence, and its exponential rise in the past decade, has catapulted it onto the global centre stage. A few of the strengths of this great nation which qualify it for superpower status are flagged below.

High Resilience

The true character of individuals and nations comes to the fore during adversity and emergencies. The world has been excited about India and its perennially untapped potential in the past. India has amply proved its resilience in critical times. Two examples showcase Indian excellence in disaster management.

  • Covid Management When the COVID-19 pandemic struck the world wave after wave, India, with a population of 135 Crores, weathered the storm very well. We managed to contain the damage better than developed nations. Thus, India was among those countries with the lowest percentage of infected persons and the lowest mortality rate considering the population. The Coronavirus pandemic has impacted the economy of every country. The global economic order has undergone substantial alteration. However, India has surprised the world with its V-shaped recovery.
  • Vaccination Drive. India is a shining example of efficient vaccine administration to the largest population in the world. The software solution developed by India to digitally manage the vaccination drive has proved to be the best in the world. Acting like a responsible democratic nation-state, we exported vaccines and life-saving medicines to more than 100 countries in the world, including the USA. As the manufacturer of most of the world’s vaccines, India is better placed than many other developing countries to roll out the vaccines successfully and efficiently every year.

Economic Giant

The latest global projections of The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predict that the world economy may plunge into the worst recession post-COVID. All the developed countries will have negative growth, including the USA and Europe. In such a situation, India holds a beacon of hope for the world. Listed below are some factors which make India an emerging global economy.

India is the sixth-largest economy in the world by nominal GDP and the third-largest by purchasing power parity (PPP). The IMF has projected a 7.5% growth rate for India in FY 2022-23, making India the fastest growing economy post-COVID  
  • Fastest Growing Economy. India is the sixth-largest economy in the world by nominal GDP and the third-largest by purchasing power parity (PPP). The IMF has projected a 7.5% growth rate for India in FY 2022-23, making India the fastest growing economy post-COVID This growth trajectory will see India become the world’s third-largest economy by 2030, only behind USA and China.
  • Biggest Consumer Market.    India, with a population of 135 Crores, and a developing country with increasing per capita income, forms the biggest consumer market in the world. All the other countries are tapping this vast consumer base; hence, India’s relevance in the world market keeps growing.
  • Biggest Manufacturing Hub.   Internationally, a clear trend is emerging where major western MNCs are making strategic plans to move their supply chain and manufacturing out of China. India, with its rapidly improving infrastructure, cheap labour, educated employable youth, and stable democratic Government provides the best and most cost-effective alternative to China. India is now also poised to become the factory of the world.
  • Youngest PopulationIndia has the youngest population in the world, while China, Japan, and Europe have started greying. Also, India produces the highest number of graduates every year. Further, the widely acknowledged demographic dividend, the skilful and diligent youth of India, is attracting MNCs to set up bases in India. The Indian intelligentsia is also making its mark in all countries across the globe.
  • Digital IndiaIndia has been leading the digital world in the BPO industry. The opening of Global Capability Centres (GCC) by multinational corporations is a form of neo-globalization. India leads the world in the same. 1400 MNCs have already set up GCC in India, providing jobs to a 1.3 million workforce and earning a revenue of $36 billion. India has also created 100 unicorns with valuations over one billion dollars. NASSCOM predicts another 40% increase in the next three years.
  • From Food Deficit Country to Wheat Exporter.   India has taken giant leaps in improving the agriculture and dairy yield in the country. From being a food-grain importer in the 20th century, in 2016 India produced a whopping 90 million tonnes of wheat. This makes it the second largest wheat producer in the world. Today, we are a net exporter of wheat, having exported 1.8 million tonnes of wheat to 12 countries of the world. It is a matter of pride that we are also the largest producer of milk, pulses, and jute products, and the second largest producer of rice, wheat, sugarcane, groundnut, vegetables, fruits, and cotton.

Military Power 

The Armed Forces have been the most effective instrument of national power. It is an integral part of attaining superpower status. A strong, well-equipped, and well-trained Army is essential for a nation that has hawkish neighbours and unsettled borders. Expenditure incurred on the Army as a “Force of Deterrence” should not be questioned. Rather, we must look at it as an investment to remove the obstacles to the nation’s growth. We will now examine those attributes of the Indian Armed Forces which make them great:

  • The Fourth Strongest Armed Forces.    According to the recently released Global Firepower (GFP) Annual Defence Review, India’s military is the 4th most powerful, with a strength of over 1.4 million active personnel. It is the second-largest military force in the world and has the largest volunteer army too. It also has the third-largest defence budget in the world. The Indian Army has vast battle experience of fighting in all types of terrain and counter-terrorist operations for the last four decades. 
  • Third Best Indian Air Force (IAF).    The Indian Air Force (IAF) ranks third on World Air Power Index in terms of fighting strength of different air force services. In 2022, the world directory of modern military Aircraft (WDMMA) placed the Indian Air Force in third place, above the Chinese Air force, the People’s Libertarian Army Air Force (PLAAF), the French Air and Space Power, and the Israeli Aviation Based Armed Forces.
India’s military is the 4th most powerful, with a strength of over 1.4 million active personnel. It is the second-largest military force in the world and has the largest volunteer army too
  • Nuclear Power. The world recognizes India as a mature nuclear power with a firm ‘no-first-use’ policy. India is the 6th country in the world to build its very own nuclear submarine after the US, Russia, France, the UK and China. This provides India with the second-strike nuclear capability. The need for nuclear deterrence has been well established in the Ukraine war this year.
  • Largest Buyer of War Equipments. India’s military spending in 2021 is the third highest in the world at $76.6 billion — behind the United States and China but ahead of the United Kingdom and Russia. India was the largest buyer of warfighting machinery till 2021, giving it the leverage to swing the global order favourably.
  • Atmanirbhar Bharat.  Under the ‘Make in India’ programme, India is planning for the indigenous manufacture of state-of-the-art war equipment for its use. We are also looking for the marketing of indigenous war machinery to developing countries. India’s defence exports have recorded a nearly eight-fold increase between 2017 and 2022, growing from 1,520 crores to 13000 crores. Weapons exported by India include BRAHMOS missiles, Tejas fighter jets, the advanced light helicopter, offshore patrol vessels, personal protective gear, surveillance systems and several types of radars. The recent orders for Brahmos missiles and Tejas fighter aircraft are shining examples of our evolving defence production industry.  As defence production increases its footprint worldwide, the private sector will have to be involved with the technology transfer to friendly countries.

Soft Power

India is a rich ancient civilisation and has a long record of being a mature and stable democratic nation for 75 years.   In recent times, India has risen and gained prominence politically and economically in the comity of nations. This has given new meanings to our soft power resources and their employment for protecting and promoting Indian interests. Some of the known indicators of Indian soft power are as follows-

  • Ancient Indian civilisation and its rich cultural heritage.
  •  A 75-yr old stable and mature democracy.
  • Good record of environmental protection and saving the planet
  • India’s policy of helping other nations and of peaceful co-existence.
  • Exporter of knowledge, wisdom and religious harmony.
  • Indian dances and performing arts, including Indian Cinema.
  • The promoter of wellness of body, mind and soul; India is a pioneer in natural and organic supplements, yoga, and meditation.
  • Rich and varied Indian food and cuisine, are popular the world over.
  • Indian diaspora of learned NRI, making their mark globally.
  • India’s non-intrusive nature and employment of soft power.

Charismatic Leadership

The recent orders for Brahmos missiles and Tejas fighter aircraft are shining examples of our evolving defence production industry

India has waited for centuries for a rare opportunity to reclaim its status as a world leader. To catapult incredible India onto the high pedestal of a superpower, we required strong and charismatic leadership, and we found that in the 21st Century. After PM Smt Indira Gandhi, India has probably made the right choice for the premier in Shri Narendra Modi. Today, every country wants to talk to India and keep India in its fold. As he has excellent relationships with all world leaders, PM Modi is the popular choice to mediate toward ending the Ukraine conflict. On Twitter, PM Modi is the second most followed political leader, after Former President Barrack Obama of the USA.

Conclusion

In the geopolitics of the 21st Century, India has carved a niche for itself. The External Affairs Minister has rightly said that India is big enough to have her specific views and not be part of any block. Though all power blocks want India on their side because India matters to the world today, they have now accepted India’s neutral stand as a principle. The world now respects India for making decisions according to her national interests.

India has all the right ingredients to become a global superpower. The country’s stature in the world forum is increasing. If India can manage its internal diversities and harness the contradictions with inclusive growth and the ‘NATION FIRST’ agenda, the 21st Century will belong to India.

-The writer is an avid reader and prolific writer. Post retirement, he is a Social Activist, Career Consultant and a Motivational Speaker of repute. He can be contacted at www.majgencpsingh.com. The views expressed are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of Raksha Anirveda