Future/Emergence of India2

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Points against the rise of an Indian superpower[edit]

  • Resources - India is quickly overpopulating with growth outstripping China's [1]. The big question is whether the land can sustain such huge pressure. For example in spite of being gifted with abundant water, huge population is making per-capita clean water scarcer [2][3].
  • Poverty - India is home to the largest number of people living under two dollars a day (approx 25% living under the poverty line) [4][5] [6] [7]. No one knows if India's economy will be strong enough to rescue such a huge mass of poor people. Poverty also begets child labour [8]. Recently, to tackle this problem, the Indian Government has started a mass employment program to help employ civilians living in rural areas[9] [10]. However, some note that this will be a "spoonful of reform for a sea of misery" [11].
  • Infrastructure - India desperately needs to improve its social infrastructure [12] such as roads, rail, power grid, water, communications infrastructure, housing and most importantly education, [13] if it wants to sustain its economic growth. In this regard India is decades behind in development when compared to U.S., China, etc. [14].
  • Bad Government - India's continual economic prosperity is also hindered by bad government and ubiquitous red tape [15] (‘Bureaucratic Raj' [16]). Retrogressive government regulations affect many areas. For example, in some states, black outs and power rationing are common due to underinvestment, differing state and local regulations, etc. This even affects the economic expansion of Bangalore (India's Silicon Valley) [17].
  • Health - India's health scenario is dismal [18] [19]. Diseases and malnutrition is widespread amongst the poorest quarter of the populace [20]. Mortality is still relatively high and now the bane of AIDS is spreading fast [21] [22]. To improve the situation, a number of projects such as the building of some hospital chains (like the Apollo Hospitals, amongst others) has laid the foundation for a health system that can one day match global standards. However, India desperately needs more cheap and better health care system for its sub-middle class masses.
  • Social Issues - India's complex social past has left some unwanted traces in its present. Casteism [23] [24] (though rapidly declining [25]), discrimination against girl child and occasional sparking of religious intolerance/violence in certain parts of the nation are some dirty stains yet to be totally cleansed from the fabric of Indian society. A huge number of Indian women are yet subjugated and are unable to participate in the economy with their full potential.
  • Cost of Democracy - Democracy has its value [26], more so in a multi-ethnic country like India [27]. However, the applicability of all the "theoretical" virtues of democracy on a country like India is sometimes questioned [28] [29] [30] [31]. Some thinkers consider India's diverse and messy democracy [32] to levy a huge tax [33] on its economy. The Indian government has to consider many interest groups before decision making. It is not uncommon to see in India how a few small vested interests can stall the development for many.
  • Disputes - India's growth is impeded by disputes with its neighbouring nuclear power China and Pakistan (over some historical border issues) and disputes with Bangladesh (over water availability and the Farakka Dam). Because of the disputes, India's neighbours such as China and Pakistan remain distrustful towards India. It is also occasionally burdened with instability issues within some localised regions/smaller states of the subcontinent. In an effort to reduce political tension and increase economic cooperation, in recent years, India has improved its relations with its neighbouring countries [34].
  • Energy Dependence & Costs - India heavily depends on foreign oil for its growth - a phenomenon likely to continue until non-fossil/renewable energy technology becomes economically viable for masses [35]. To avert an energy crisis [36][37] India is desperately seeking every kind of energy - gas, oil, nuclear, etc. India can sustain its growth to higher growth trajectories only if nations in Middle East, Pakistan, US, China, Europe, Japan, etc. co-operate to help and share in India's growth. As for now, India is energetically expensive since India has to import over 70% [38] of its energy. Costs of comforts - like personal car or even air conditioning - are extremely high.
  • Climate or Environment Problems - South Asia like many other regions has to manage various kinds of disasters, but some might become very serious issues in the future. For example, today scientists are busy trying to predict possible repercussions that global warming may have on world climate [39]. Though humans are no where near in predicting what exactly will happen, but one of the possible effects may turn out to be a change in monsoons (weakening, aperiodicity or anything) [40]. South Asia heavily depends on periodic monsoon. Also the Gangotri glacier, among others, is receding [41] [42]. If it vanishes Ganga, amongst others, will become a seasonal river. 400-500 million people survive around the gangetic plains. Clean drinking and irrigation water is already a precious resource in South Asia. Some doomsayers are already predicting that, in the future, water scarcity may even incite a war in the sub-continent. Will South Asians join hands and invest in technology development for the long run (e.g. Solar Desalination etc.) to insure their safe future [43]? Urban air quality in India ranks among the world's worst. Of the 3 million premature deaths in the world that occur each year due to outdoor and indoor air pollution, the highest number are assessed to occur in India [44].
  • Religious Intolerance - India has a diverse mix of various religions and races. The majority are Hindus by religion, followed by Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Buddhists, Bahaii and the list goes on. Though most religions in India have been practising religious tolerance in their histories but the partition and subsequent terrorism had created some degree of uneasiness among some. The uneducated masses of these various groups sometimes get at odds with one another [45] [46] [47]. However in recent years, relations between the different religious groups have considerably changed for better. For instance, a real chunk, if not the majority, of India's celebrities - sporting legends, film stars, industrialists, artists, politicians, scientists, head-of-state, etc. - have come from various non-majority roots, representing the emerging face of new diverse India [48].
  • Low Literacy - The national literacy is yet just 65.2 per cent as per the Census in 2001[49], even though the literacy rate in some select states like Kerala, Punjab and Goa is above 85% [50]. Literacy drive is spreading slowly to other states[51], and it is hoped that the literacy rate will eventually rise above 70%. At current rates India will take no less than 20 years for a literacy of 95% [52].
  • Non-Classical Economic Growth - Usually, in classical sense, the economic development of a nation follows the sequence of Agricultural age, Industrial & Manufacturing age and finally comes the Services. Some observers see India to be a "odd nation out" as it seems to have tried to jump to a service dependent economy without adequate industrial base. It is argued that while services does create great islands of prosperity but for general employment & prosperity of the masses a nation does need an adequate manufacturing base [53]. The warning goes that unless India develops mass employment for its masses (possible via manufacturing), it will not be able to generate a broad consumer base to compete with nations who are following the classical growth trajectory and are likely to soon develop their own highly competent service sector. In case India does decide to develop more manufacturing sector, it will have to reckon with nations who have already developed a core competence in this field. There are also counter arguments to this point [54].
  • Technology - Although an important service provider and having some developed technology skills, India is still far behind powers such as the U.S., Japan or the EU in many fields.
  • Lack of international representation - India is not a member of the UNSC council, although currently it is one of the four-nations group actively seeking a permanent seat on the council. Thus India lacks the ability to extend its influence or ideas on international events in the way few chosen nations do. [55]


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