Superpower in a broader sense means a stage which has the ability to influence events and project power worldwide and has immense potential to become one. The characteristics of superpowers are firstly, the state or nation should have sizable presence in terms of area and population.
Secondly, the state should have high levels of domestic cohesion, a clear sense of national identify and stable administration based on strong legal and institutional arrangements. Thirdly, the state should be economically strong and should be endowed with natural resources, particularly energy resources, minerals and metals. Such a state should have a strong industrial base backed by technological knowledge and also have strong military capabilities, particularly nuclear and missile. The combination of all these ingredients and attributes of the state should be at for higher levels than those of the majority of states in the international community. It is only then that the state can acquire the status of a superpower and be acknowledged as such.
In this context, if we examine India’s position, then India’s quest for an influential status in world affairs in many ways had nothing to do with the substantive criteria described above. Its assertions regarding its influence were based on a perception that it was uniquely positioned to influence the world order because its foreign policy was based on idealism and rooted in high moral principles. India’s civilization background and size were supposed to ensure for it an influential voice in international affairs. But this certainly was not a realistic claim. If we look at the statistical data, it reveals that nearly 47% of Indian children are either malnourished or stunted. The literacy rate is about 65%, the same as Rwanda. In India people are deemed literate if they can do little more than sign their name. About 10 percent of the entire Indian labor force work in formal economy; of which less than half is in the private sector. It is really shocking to note that about a half of the world’s starved inhabitants live in India.
While India is a democracy with relevant institutional arrangements and experience stretching over half a century, the fact of the matter is that Indian democracy is still plagued by numerous lacunae. The standards of governance in Indian polity leave much to be desired. There is a perceptible lack of internal cohesion and unity in society of India. This is not denying a general sense of national identity, which Indians have. In reality however, India is subjected to centrifugal forces originating from caste, religious, ethnic, linguistic and regional differences. While we boast of our economic development and attendant technological capacities, the downside is that our infrastructure is not developed. We are still dependent for energy, for defence supplies and for certain categories of high technology on foreign countries. India’s internal, social and economic problems limit India’s capacity to project its power abroad in a meaningful manner. Above all we lack the cohesion, discipline and decisive political will to consolidate our strength projecting them externally. In this sixtieth year of India’s independence, it is indeed heart-rending to see that we still do not have sufficient hospitals, roads, educational institutes etc. that can cater to the needs of every Indian citizens.
However, we should not get bogged down in this quagmire of darkness and our modest insertion should be to become a developed country. The potential is no great that we can aspire to see that in another 50 years from now. India be transformed into a superpower. And statistic cannot alone negate the fact that India has the capability to develop into a superpower. India’s competitive advantage lies in its good geo-strategic location. Secondly, it has trained human resources with technological capacities of a high order. Thirdly, India has the fourth largest military in the world and is now a nuclear power. It is among the seven or eight countries which have confirmed capacities in nuclear technology, space technology and in other crucial areas such as robotics and information technology. Fourthly, it is among the first 15 economic powers of the world. From all these facts, we can draw the conclusion that India is well on the way to becoming a superpower.
However, mere potential will not make India one of the most important powers of the world. A deliberate and conscious effort should be made to improve governance and administration to world class standards. An intellectual and emotional sense of a composite Indian identify has to be consolidated. Furthermore, policies need to be formulated and implemented to consolidate India’s well being in all its dimensions- health, education, roads and communications, productivity, food and energy security and so on. India should be able to sustain an annual rate of growth between 8 to 9% in the coming two decades. Simultaneously it should also focus on fashioning a stable pattern of relations, particularly wit its neighbors so that and atmosphere of peace and security is established and its economy is boosted. In the global arena, Indian should establish firm relations with major power centers of the world, especially the USA, Western Europe, Russia and China in order to ensure that these countries do not view India with apprehension. It is necessary that these important powers do not generate forces countering India’s capacities and policies to emerge as a major influence in world politics. India should develop strength and capacities to become a superpower.