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This article was a sub-article of Superpower in Wikipedia. It has been shifted here as a sub-article of Geopolitical future scenarios, under New Emerging Powers, where it better fits. There are two sister articles on China & EU.

The Republic of India could be considered as one of the emerging future superpowers [1] [2] [3] [4]. However, facing many problems, it has a long way to go to realise its potential.

Geographic factors

  • Location - India, the 7th largest nation by area, lies at the north of the Indian Ocean. The Thar Desert in the north-west and the Himalayas in the north and north-east protect it from bitter continental cold and also save the monsoons from escaping. The subcontinent contains necessary water resources and flat arable land to sustain its massive population. Many Eurasian sea trade1 routes pass through or close to Indian territorial waters. [5]
  • Possible future advantages of India's location -
Energy - Far into the future - as technology develops cheaper means to harness clean/renewable sources of energy - the world will leave the "fossil-fuel age" (Figure-7 of [6] ) and (possibly in an even longer run) the "nuclear-fission age" to enter the "renewable-energy age" or the "fusion age" (if/whenever they become economically sustainable/viable) [7] [8] [9]. If the world enters a "solar age" [10], then being an economy in the sunny tropical belt, South Asia will enjoy having both high solar insolation [11] and a big consumer base density [12] at the same place. Also considering the energy consumption for temperature control (a major factor influencing energy intensity), requirements of cooling from excessive solar heat will be more economical than heating for the lack of it. By 2050, solar power may be a major component of India's energy resources. [13] [14][15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20]. Various steps are adopted to conserve solar power and utilise in the most effective way. Though India is the 4th largest Country in terms of coal production, it still lacks the essential necessities and support to conserve the same.

Demographic factors

  • Big - India has the world's second largest population and by 2050 will have the largest. [21][22]
  • Global Diaspora - More than 20 million Indians live across the globe [24]. Under fair opportunities, they have become socioeconomically successful [25].
  • English - The importance of English in 21st century is being debated [26] [27] [28] [29], but the growing non-native English speakers makes it the best contender as a "Global language" [30] [31] [32] [33] [34]. Incidentally, India has the world's largest English speaking/understanding population [35] [36]. It claims one of the largest workforce of engineers, doctors and other key professionals, all comfortable with English [37]. It has the 2nd largest population of "Fluent English" speakers, second only to the U.S., with estimates ranging from 150 to 250 million, and is expected to become the world's largest within a decade [38].

Political factors

  • Democracy - India is the world's largest democracy, more than three times bigger than the the next largest ( U.S.). It has yet been successful, at least politically, especially considering its functionality in difficult ethnic composition.
  • Candidate for Security Council - India's bid for a position in the Security Council has received backing from the UK , France , Russia and China . The U.S. did not support India's bid but there have been indications that it is waiting for a more suitable time to allow new members to UNSC
  • Role in international politics - Although India was one of the founding members of Non-Aligned Movement, it was also a key backer and ally of the former Soviet Union during the Cold War. It took a leading initiative to improve relations between African and Asian countries. India is an active member of The Commonwealth and the WTO. It has also played regional roles in South Asian affairs . Currently, India's political moves are increasingly being influenced by economic imperatives. It is slowly assuming a role as one of the two Asian powers , the other being China. The evolving economic integration politics in the West and in Asia is influencing the Indian political mood to slowly swing in favour of integration with global economy. It has also confessed its own visions of a South Asian version of free trade zone and, over the long run, even a Union. This process has begun with invitations to its neighbours to relinquish past animosities and move to make India's economic growth a pan South Asian phenomenon
  • Multipolarity - A school of international strategists propose that the current world powers should support and help India's emergence. One of the debatable reasons given is that, as an economically strong democratic citizen of the world, it could help to balance the powerful but non-democratic forces, and thus insure a more stable world. On the other hand if India fails to exist or prosper then the "Theory of Democracy" is likely to face the biggest setback.

Economic factors


  • Economic Growth - India's current fast economic growth (as the world's second-fastest growing major economy) has improved its standing on the world's political stage, even though the country remains one of the poorest in the world. Many nations are moving to forge better relationship with India. [40] [41]

  • Blooming Economy - The economy of India is currently the world's fourth largest in terms of real GDP (PPP) after the USA, China and Japan, and the second fastest growing major economy in the world, averaging at an annual growth rate of 7.1% [42]. Its record growth was in the third quarter of 2003, when it grew higher than any other emerging economy at 10.4% [43]. Based on its current growth rates, India's economy is estimated to surpass Japan as the third largest economy (in PPP) [44] by the end of 2006.
Primary Sector - India manages to grow enough food to feed its populace.
Secondary Sector - India is still relatively a small player in manufacturing when compared to many world leaders. Some new trends suggest a better future. [45] [46][47] [48] [49] [50]
Tertiary and Quaternary Sector - India currently has an expanding IT industry. [51] [52] [53]
  • Science/Tech - India is trying to develop more high skilled, English speaking people to fit in the future knowledge economy [54] [55]. India is becoming one of the world's leading producers of computer software. With mushrooming R&D centres, it is experiencing a slow but steady revolution in science and technology [56] [57][58]. A typical example of India's rising scientific endeavours - It was the 3rd nation to found a National Space Agency called ISRO, after the USSR and the U.S.. It was first Asian nation to send satellites into space, starting with Aryabhata in 1975 [59] [60]. By 2008 it plans to send an unmanned mission to the Moon [61] [62] [63]. India is among the world leaders in remote sensing [64], a technology coming to great use, among others, to Indian fishermen & farmers [65]. India is also trying to join international R&D projects - e.g. it has recently joined the European Galileo GPS Project [66] and the ITER for fusion energy club [67]. Some Indian educational and research institutions like IIT [68], IIM, IISc and AIIMS are among the world's best.
  • Tourism - India's tourism infrastructure is yet poor when compared to the 'best of the world' standards. Yet its diverse and fascinating history has led to the creation of a booming tourism industry. Foreign visitors presently spend more than US $15.4 billion annually in India [69] [70][71]. Many travellers find it an eye-opening (for some, even enlightening) experience, even when the hassles of life in developing India like inefficiency, pollution, overcrowding, etc somewhat lessen the pleasure aspect [72] [73]. Monuments like the Taj Mahal is just tip of the ice-berg that this land has to offer. As its tourism infrastructure develops, it could emerge as one of the biggest tourist attractions. The world is just starting to re-discover India. [74][75]
  • Energy - To reduce the energy crisis, India is presently constructing ~ 9 civilian nuclear power reactors and several hydro-power stations [76] [77]. Recently it also made a civilian nuclear energy deal with the US [78] and EU [79]. In recent years, India joined China to launch a vigorous campaign to acquire oil fields around the world and now has stake in several oil fields (in the Middle East and Russia) [80] [81] [82] [83].

Military factors

Army - The Army of India, as the Indian army was called before 1947 under British dominion, played a crucial role in checking the advance of Imperial Japan into South Asia during World War-2. Today the Indian army is the 3rd largest land force after Chinese and U.S. forces.
Air Force - The Indian Air Force is the 4th largest air force in the world. India recently flew its first indigenously manufactured combat aircraft. It is presently developing a 5th generation aircraft known as Sukhoi Su-47 with Russia.
Navy - The Indian Navy is the world's 5th largest navy. It operates one of the only two Asian aircraft carriers. It also plans to induct two other aircraft carriers by 2008.
  • Nuclear Weapons - India possesses them and the means to deliver these over long distances. India is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty on Nuclear Weapons (arguing on security concerns; also complains NPT to be discriminatory).
  • Arms Import - India is currently one of the world's largest arms importer, spending an estimated US $16.97 billion in 2004. India has made military technology deals with the Russian Federation, U.S., Israel and the EU.[84]
  • Current major roles - The Indian Armed Forces plays a crucial role in anti-terrorist activities and maintaining law and order in the disputed Kashmir region. It has also participated in several United Nations peace-keeping missions, currently being the 2nd largest contributor to the UN peace keeping force [85].

Cultural factors

  • History - India has a long history of cultural intercourse with many regions of the world. Its cultural influence has spread through the philosophy of religions like Jainism, Sikhism, Hinduism and Buddhism (particularly in East and SE Asia). Many foreign religions - Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Bahá'í Faith - have found home and followers in India. India has no history of imperialism. Indian culture has always spread naturally or through widespread emigration to foreign lands.
  • Bollywood - India's film industry, often known as "Bollywood", produces more feature films than any other (though not all of great quality) [86]. In a year, it sold 3.6 billion tickets, more than any other film industry in the world ( In comparison, Hollywood sold 2.6 billion tickets in a year) [87].
  • Unity in Diversity of world view - The scale of multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-religious people trying to cohabitate here is unparalleled in the world. The subcontinent's long and diverse history has given it a unique eclectic culture, claimed to be one of its great intangible assets. It is also often associated with spirituality. India's diversity forces it to either evolve strong foundations of tolerance and survive, or face break-up. The Indian public is now also accepting western influences in their society & media - and what is emerging is a confluence of its past local culture with the new western culture ("Social Glocalisation"). For some futuristic social thinkers, the miscegenation of diverse ancient culture with modernity, spirituality with science/technology, eastern with western world-view is potentially making India a social laboratory for the evolution of futuristic global-unity consciousness [90] [91][92]. If, and only if, everything evolves right, then South Asia could emerge as a soft super-power, by being the biggest melting pot of human ethnicities, languages, cultures, religions, ideologies & world view.

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