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Vision 2047: Strategies to Surpass China

Crafting a decisive and innovative blueprint to counter China is more critical than ever. This action-plan must be holistic, covering economic resilience, military modernisation, technological innovation, strong diplomatic engagement, and more

By Neeraj Singh Manhas

SPECIAL FEATURE

Over the last decade, India has showcased an impressive and resilient growth trajectory, powered by perseverance, ingenuity, and vision. Despite encountering unprecedented challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical conflicts, the Indian economy has demonstrated a remarkable ability to rebound and transform obstacles into opportunities. This adaptability and forward-thinking approach have played a pivotal role in driving robust, sustainable, balanced, and inclusive growth. In the words of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, “In the last 10 years, India has moved from being the 10th largest economy in the world to the 5th largest. India is now perceived as a country with immense potential, supported by its impressive performance.”

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As India approaches its centenary of independence in 2047, the nation stands at a critical juncture. With aspirations to outstrip China and emerge as a global powerhouse, charting the path forward requires a comprehensive action-plan that underscores the power of foresight and the significance of well-defined goals, and exemplifies how forward planning and meticulous execution provides direction, aligns various stakeholders toward a common purpose, and facilitates efficient resource allocation and prioritisation of key initiatives. This optimisation of resources ultimately fosters sustainable growth, drives innovation, and ensures that a nation’s future is built on a solid foundation of progress and prosperity. Let’s take a look at multifaceted strategies India must embrace to economically and politically outpace China, as well as excel in infrastructure and urban development, by 2047.

Economic Growth and Development

India, boasting a diverse economy, has witnessed significant growth over the past decades but still lags behind China in several metrics. While China’s GDP and manufacturing output lead the world, India’s growth story is marked by untapped potential. Currently, India ranks as the fifth-largest economy in nominal terms and the third-largest in terms of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP). As of 2022, India’s GDP had already surpassed that of the UK and France. Multiple forecasts indicate that India’s GDP is on track to surpass Japan and Germany by 2030. Rating agency S&P predicts India’s nominal GDP will surge from USD 3.4 trillion in 2022 to USD 7.3 trillion by 2030. Such rapid economic growth would position India as the second-largest economy in the Asia-Pacific region. Preliminary forecasts from NITI Aayog indicate that India’s exports would value at USD 8.67 trillion in 2047, with imports valued at USD 12.12 trillion. Moreover, India’s average life expectancy is projected to increase from 67.2 in 2021 to 71.8, and the literacy rate is expected to rise from 77.8 per cent in 2021 to 89.8 per cent.

India’s impressive economic growth, marked by a diverse and dynamic economy, positions it to potentially surpass major economies like Japan and Germany by 2030. With a focus on robust public finances and a thriving financial sector, India aims to become a USD 30 trillion economy by 2047

To achieve the ambitious target of becoming a USD 30 trillion economy with a per-capita income ranging from USD 18,000 to USD 20,000, India must focus on robust public finances and a thriving financial sector. This vision includes revolutionising infrastructure in both rural and urban areas, aiming for world-class standards that enhance connectivity and living conditions. Strengthening key industries through strategic mergers and restructuring is crucial to create 3-4 global industry leaders that can epitomise India’s clout on the international stage.

Self-reliance in defence and space sectors will not only bolster national security but also enhance India’s global influence. Collaboration with foreign Research and Development (R&D) organisations is essential to establish top-tier laboratories within India and elevate at least 10 Indian institutions into the global top 100 rankings. These efforts will collectively ensure a structured approach to economic development, making the nation resilient and competitive in the global market.

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Infrastructure and Urban Development

India’s infrastructure development, while progressing, still trails behind China’s rapid advancements. China’s extensive investments in transportation, urban planning, and energy infrastructure have significantly contributed to its economic growth and global competitiveness.

To keep pace with its economic ambitions and achieve global standards, India must modernize its infrastructure. This involves expanding highways and expressways, modernising railways with high-speed trains, and upgrading airports to handle increased traffic. Building smart cities equipped with integrated technology can tackle urbanisation challenges, while investing in renewable energy sources and enhancing energy efficiency are essential for sustainable growth. Strengthening rural infrastructure ensures balanced regional development, providing access to clean water, sanitation, and reliable electricity. Public-private partnerships will play a pivotal role in attracting investment, expediting projects, and ensuring India’s infrastructure supports its vision of becoming a global economic powerhouse by 2047.

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Significantly, the government has allocated 3.3 per cent of GDP to infrastructure in the fiscal year 2024, focusing on transport and logistics. Ambitious targets include a 2 lakh-km national highway network by 2025, expanding airports to 220, operationalising 23 waterways by 2030, and developing 35 Multi-Modal Logistics Parks (MMLPs).

Infrastructure budgets have seen a significant boost, highlighting ripe investment opportunities. Key projects like Bharatmala Pariyojana, UDAN for regional air connectivity, and advancements in railways and ports underscore substantial progress. The Smart Cities Mission has tackled urbanisation challenges, with many projects already completed, while the expansion of rural internet signals growing connectivity across India.

Modernising infrastructure is key to India’s growth. Plans include expanding highways, upgrading railways, and building smart cities. With significant government investment and public-private partnerships, India can transform its infrastructure to meet global standards and support its ambitious economic goals

Healthcare and Social Welfare

China’s strides in healthcare set a benchmark for developing nations, particularly its Universal Health Coverage (UHC) initiative, aiming to offer comprehensive healthcare services to all citizens. In contrast, India faces significant challenges in healthcare infrastructure, including inadequate access to medical facilities, a shortage of healthcare professionals, and insufficient funding. Addressing these issues is vital for nurturing a healthy workforce to drive economic growth.

The healthcare sector’s importance has been magnified during the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting the critical role of the workforce. India faces a growing demand for healthcare workers due to population growth, aging, and increased prevalence of non-communicable diseases, widening the gap between required and available staff. The Indian government is enhancing medical education infrastructure but must also focus on quality. Key areas for strengthening the healthcare workforce include setting up an empowered group for workforce planning, developing a professional registry, creating new cadres, attracting talent, standardising treatment guidelines, and organising regular national conclaves.

Additionally, a National Health Skilling Platform and faculty development programs are crucial. Financial support for medical education, leveraging CSR funds, and promoting digital literacy are essential. Embracing digital tools like e-learning platforms and simulation-based training can prepare a future-ready workforce, incorporating new technologies like the metaverse for immersive training experiences.

To drive economic growth, India must address healthcare infrastructure challenges. Initiatives to enhance medical education, develop a skilled healthcare workforce, and embrace digital tools are essential to nurturing a healthy workforce capable of supporting India’s future aspirations

International Relations and Strategic Alliances

India’s global stature is ascending, yet strategic alliances are needed to counterbalance China’s influence. Strengthening diplomatic ties with major global powers like the USA, the European Union, and Japan is crucial. Bilateral trade agreements, joint ventures in technology and defence, and collaborative research initiatives can drive mutual growth. Active participation in global economic and security dialogues ensures India’s voice is heard on critical international issues, helping shape global policies aligned with its interests.

India’s proactive engagement in regional organisations like South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is instrumental in fostering peace, stability, and cooperation in the region. Through these platforms, India can not only promote economic integration but also address common challenges and opportunities, paving the way for shared prosperity among neighbouring nations. By enhancing economic ties and cooperation with its neighbours, India can strengthen its regional influence and contribute significantly to the stability and development of the entire South Asian and Southeast Asian regions.

Active participation in global organisations such as the United Nations (UN), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and other international forums is essential for India to effectively address global challenges and advocate for its interests on the global stage. By playing an active and constructive role in these multilateral platforms, India can contribute to shaping global policies on critical issues like climate change, sustainable development, and international security. Strengthening multilateral ties and diplomatic engagements will enable India to build a positive global image, enhance its soft power, and forge strategic alliances that support its long-term strategic objectives.

Ensuring national security is paramount for India’s continued growth and prosperity. To achieve this, India must develop robust defence and security strategies tailored to meet evolving threats and challenges. This includes modernising its armed forces, investing in cutting-edge defence technologies, and enhancing cyber security capabilities to safeguard against cyber threats and attacks. Strategic defence partnerships with key allies such as the United States, Russia, and Israel are essential for accessing advanced military technologies, intelligence sharing, and joint defence exercises, further enhancing India’s defence preparedness and strategic capabilities.

Strengthening diplomatic ties and strategic alliances is crucial for India. By enhancing relationships with global powers and actively participating in international organisations, India aims to counterbalance China’s influence and build a strong network of allies to support its long-term strategic objectives

By focusing on these critical areas, India can build a strong network of international alliances and partnerships that not only enhance its global influence but also safeguard its national interests. Strengthening ties with major global powers, fostering regional cooperation, and actively participating in international organisations are essential steps towards positioning India as a leading global power by 2047. Through proactive diplomacy, strategic investments, and collaborative efforts, India can play a crucial role in shaping the future global order, contributing to peace, stability, and prosperity worldwide.

With steadfast commitment and concerted efforts from policymakers, businesses, and citizens, India can overcome challenges and seize opportunities to realize its full potential on the global stage. By leveraging its strengths, fostering partnerships, and embracing a forward-looking approach, India can emerge as a leading global power by its centenary of independence, celebrating its achievements with pride and accomplishment.

-The writer is a Special Advisor for South Asia at the Parley Policy Initiative, Republic of Korea. He has authored and edited six books and has various research interests covering Sino-Indian border issues, transboundary rivers, water security, defence, and Indo-Pacific studies. He tweets @The_China_Chap. The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of Raksha Anirveda