India already has everything it takes to become a global power. We are already the third-largest economy by PPP, 4th largest military, one of the youngest countries in the world with more than 62% of the population in the working-age group, stable government, and the list goes on. Despite all these advantages, our growth seems to be slower than expected. So what are the challenges that are hindering our growth? Let's discuss them one by one in this article.
Diplomacy and International relations
You just can not dream of becoming a superpower unless you have a network of friends or allies all across the globe. India with its friendly behavior has managed to achieve that. But for few years, the scenario is changing. India is gaining more enemies than its neighbors. Pakistan has always been a permanent member of this club. But suddenly, more and more countries are joining the club.
China and India's rivalry was certain but the way China has openly started to bully India is concerning. Last year's standoff between the Indian and Chinese military was a result of this rivalry. Chinese influence on Nepal is also an area to work upon. After the Taliban's power capture in Afghanistan, there is a high chance of Afghanistan siding towards Pakistani and Chinese clubs.
Sri Lanka is already heavily trapped in Chinese debt. Bangladesh already seems to be on the Sri Lankan track. With one giant enemy encircling India with its allies, India will have to find ways to tackle this problem immediately.
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Solve internal issues
Undoubtedly, what India has achieved in these years is just commendable! Moving a country with such diverse and giant forward is a big challenge. Despite this, India is successfully doing that. But if India wants to lead the race, it will have to overcome its internal problems such as riots & religion-based issues. These problems tarnish the country's image and demotivate tourism.
It also questions the law and order of a country. Some of the examples of such issues are the 1969 Gujarat riots, the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, the 1989 Bhagalpur riots, the 1989 Kashmir violence, the Godhra train burning, 2002 Gujarat riots, 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots, and 2020 Delhi riots.
One of the most important criteria for any developed country is skilled citizens. Gaining skills require education. So if the education system of a country is not in place, they are doomed. The average literacy rate of India is 77.7%. At the pan-India level, the male literacy rate is at 84.7% compared to 70.3% among women.
It is also worth noting that male literacy is higher than female in all the states. This needs to change immediately. A significant number of students complain about the Indian education system as well saying stating that it is old and needs reformation.
The condition of healthcare in India is widely known. There are a plethora of issues with them. While the government hospitals lack basic facilities like medicine availability, cleanliness, adequate beds, etc., private hospitals are not affordable for common people. In an article called "Challenges to healthcare in India- The five A's" Arvind Kasthuri explains 5 major challenges to the Indian healthcare system. They are-
- Awareness or the lack of it
- Access or the lack of it
- Absence of the human power crisis in healthcare
- Affordability or the cost of healthcare
- Accountability or the lack of it
Even though our constitution gives equal rights to every citizen irrespective of religion or anything, there are many problems in this field. People send not someone who deserves it but someone who represents their caste or religion. That same person then starts to care only for people belonging to his own community. This attitude won't help India as a nation in long run considering how diverse it is.
Read Also: The Rise Of Taliban: A Threat To India
Implementation of law and act
According to World Justice Project, the "Rule of Law Index" of India is 69 out of 128 countries. We make new and strict laws but their implementation is poor. We need to reform our police and judiciary as quickly as possible.
Prioritize the basic necessities of citizens
Basic necessities include electricity, sanitation, clean water, etc. A government survey has revealed that 82% of rural India is deprived of basic necessities. India will have to take the needs of common people seriously as they are the ones building this empire. Taking care of rural equally as urban areas is required. One of the biggest justification for this statement is that more than 50% of the Indian workforce is directly employed by agriculture and contributes more than 50- 60 % to the GDP.
Work on building a strong economy
Superpower directly implies a strong economy. India has continuously proved that its economy is very strong and it will only grow in the future. Foreign investment and all is good but right now, foreign investment is just to capture the Indian market. This means money will eventually move out of the country in long run. If India wants to become a superpower, it will have to produce goods that can compete in the world market.
Using the population for its advantage
India is already producing some of the greatest Doctors, Engineers, Scientists & CEOs in the world. But India will have to understand that not all of its 1.35 bn population can be the same. Hence it needs to help everyone acquire relevant skills. Even a laborer should also be highly trained for his work. That would be the true meaning of using the population for its advantage.
Focusing more on the environment
Environmental issues in India are a bit more concerning. Every year Delhi hits the worst air quality index. The government is constantly cutting trees for development plans. We understand it is important but if we want a good and healthy future for our kids, we will have to balance development plans with nature's conservation as well.
Freedom of speech must be encouraged
No country ever became great by suppressing the voice of its people. India's democracy is one of the best indeed. But recent time shows that people in power are trying to suppress the voice of people against it. We are not here bashing just the government. Opposition and bureaucrats are also are guilty of doing the same in their region.
One such example was when a Twitter handle with more than a million followers called @trueindology caught in a heated debate with an IAS officer, his account was deleted the next morning without any notice (Read here).
Industry must be a key focus
Bollywood movies might have given us an image of a businessman as someone who oppresses the worker and he only cares about money. This mentality has to change and the government has to promote small to big businessmen. No country became a superpower by just being an agriculture-dependent economy. We will have to move to an industry-based economy.
Budding entrepreneurs and businessmen are constantly complaining that there are many problems with starting and running a successful business in India. Despite the government promoting entrepreneurs and businessmen under 'Make in India' and other schemes, politics find its way. Recent vandalism in the Apple factory, the breaking of Jio towers in Punjab during farmer protest, sends out a very wrong signal to the world outside. The country as an entity has to support companies and businesses.
Focus on Military export
A superpower has lots of products to export. One major field of export is Defence which can generate a lot of revenue. Military export is a major source of income for countries like Israel, the US, and Russia. So if India wants to join the superpower club, we will have to make defense equipment inside India. India is one of the largest military importers in the world. It's high time that we cut our imports, make our own equipment and then export it to the rest of the world.
To sum up
In order for India to be a global power in the 21st century, it first needs to develop its military capabilities and diminish its dependence on natural resources. The country would also have to devote substantial fiscal resources (tax, non-tax, and domestic revenue) towards military expenditure.
Given the burden of a rapidly growing poor and unskilled population, it is hard to perceive how India will be able to allocate scarce resources into making it a militarily and economically powerful nation.