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  • Writer's pictureTeshi Sharma

India, a developing superpower

Teshi, a student in India, explores how and why India can be considered a developing superpower, as well as any limitations it faces.

The definition of a world superpower points primarily to militaristic and economic dominance. In the era we are living in, that is not necessarily the ideal definition of a superpower. We like to label the United States of America, the former British colonial empire, or the former Soviet Union as global powers. However, should our index still be led by them, in light of discrimination and other means of social unrest?

For several decades, developing countries like India and China have been designated as potential superpowers. Specifically regarding India, let's explore how and why India can be considered a developing superpower, as well as any limitations. To define the word "superpower" in the context of international affairs, it refers to a country whose might, excellence, and dominance cannot be ignored on a global scale.

Few Indians alive now have any recollection of how precarious our destiny was in the summer of 1948, a year after India gained independence. "Will India survive?" was the question that was being posed everywhere at the time. Seventy-three years later, that question is replaced with a considerably more positive one, namely, "will India become a superpower?"

This new, anticipatory, expectant question has been prompted by the extraordinary resilience of India’s democratic institutions.

Despite the achievements of India, and its evident potential, there is reason to be cautious in classifying India as a superpower. The rise of new income inequalities resulting from economic prosperity in India has added to still-entrenched divides in the caste system. The rich are getting richer, and the poor are not able to move up the social ladder. Democracy in India may have flourished in ways few could have predicted, but national institutions are beset by nepotism and corruption.

So, growth has not always brought equality to all citizens. There are still people in this country who have a low standard of living. Slums are adjacent to high-rise structures. The concept of growth is rife with paradoxical judgments.

The socialist dream of the Nehruvian period was full of promise, but it fell short of dreams and expectations. State institutions push for people-centered development, but the ruling classes, caste dominance, and personal interests have made this difficult. This period would have benefited a select minority of educated, middle-class males with high social standing and economic influence, while huge numbers of individuals from diverse groups were excluded. It did represent a significant departure from colonial economic stagnation, but it has failed to improve the lives of its citizens.

However, there is optimism for India's future. Though challenges exist, we must remember that India becoming a global superpower is not entirely baseless. There are many reasons to be optimistic about India. It boasts one of the world’s most dynamic economies, driven by a growing group of sophisticated entrepreneurs capable of competing globally. The administration is growing increasingly confident in its bid for a permanent place on the United Nations Security Council and more power in organizations like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

At the same time, India has surpassed the United States as the world's largest weapons importer, raising India's prominence and possible involvement in Indian Ocean security. A consensus has formed in the West that India is the world's best chance to balance competitive countries, physically and philosophically, due to India's democratic credentials and image as a benign international actor.

As evident, there are rays of hope. At the end of the day, we realize that these developing countries are coming up with new methodologies of development and hegemonic influence. Sustainable development is the most beneficial way to go and these developing powers have adopted measures on similar lines. Sadly, the fair treatment of marginalized people is often lost, in light of such development. If domestic segregation increases day by day, what’s the point of it? There is hope that India can solve these domestic problems and meet the potential it truly has.


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