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Harsh Goenka (Chairman, RPG Group)
The modern post-war world has always been bipolar. The US and the Soviet Union formed two power centres, which wanted to establish supremacy on the strength of military, scientific and economic power. While the US extolled the glory of its democratic foundations, the Soviet bloc encouraged socialism and dictatorship. It was a historic clash of superpowers, fought from space to the chess board. Countries around the world formed formal and informal relationships with their preferred axis.
India was one of the few countries that remained neutral, that is, did not join any faction.
Bi-polar world returns in the 2000s
The US became a superpower after the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991. Europe was an important force in the global economy, with America being a major ally. Together they created a capitalist global system dominated by private enterprise. In 1990, China decided to transform itself from an agriculture-based system to a manufacturing-based economy. After this, China’s development was astonishing. As a result, the 2000s saw a return to a bi-polar world with the US and China.
In the last two decades, the West has become increasingly dependent on China for its manufacturing needs. To counter China, America had to form a quad-like alliance.
Domestic Covid policies jolt China
America’s sphere of influence has weakened in the last seven years. The world’s undisputed currency US dollar is also losing its sheen. Digital currencies are posing a threat to the dollar and could potentially make a big difference to the way global business is conducted. On the other hand, the domestic COVID policies also dealt a blow to China. Despite substantial differences from the rest of the world, both China and the US are beset by economic and political turmoil. Europe is also in economic crisis.
Russia’s importance has also decreased after the Ukraine war. A triangular power axis is emerging with the US, China and India having varying degrees of influence in different circles of the geographical region. India has witnessed stable political scenario with strong workforce population, huge consumer base. The sense of national pride in India is higher than ever. If any country can beat America and China in the next 25 years, then it is India. It is a long journey, but if the stars are in a straight line then it will definitely be possible.
Indigenous entrepreneurship increased by encouraging startups
The rise of service sector and strong IT sector in India has given a fillip to the traditional manufacturing sector. Reforms in two decades paved the way for progress. Digital interventions in the form of initiatives like Aadhaar network, Jan Dhan accounts, ONDC, GST and digital payments have had a significant impact. Reforms like PLI, Make in India and infrastructure development have enhanced India’s capitalization and potential.
Opening up to more foreign investment and encouraging start-ups, along with reducing corporate tax, has led to increased indigenous entrepreneurship.
Big motivation and strong base is necessary to become a superpower
A few months back, India had become the fifth largest economy by overtaking Britain. Now only America, China, Japan and Germany are bigger than it. In April, India became the most populous country leaving behind China. By 2030, India’s GDP is set to cross that of Japan and Germany. India’s matter is being taken seriously. What India says carries weight.
India is poised to capitalize on its young working population and position itself as a manufacturing rival to China. China’s aging workforce and rising wages are eroding its competitive edge. Due to the dispute between China and the West, India has a chance to gain a foothold in international supply. Apple will make 85% of its phones in China by 2022. After the shift to India, it is expected that 50% of Apple’s phone production will be with us.
Till 2047 when India will complete 100 years of independence, the country needs to do a lot during the period of 25 years. These can be achieved with enough effort.
This should be the roadmap of two and a half decades
Actively promote the soft power of India’s great philosophy, rich heritage, Ayurveda, rich cuisine, spirituality, yoga, Bollywood and its ancient knowledge. Military power is equally important.
PM Modi has emerged as one of the most important leaders of the world. He has instilled a sense of national pride among Indians within the country and abroad. During the ‘Amrit Kaal’, for India to become a superpower, it would need a strong base and a great motivation. It is Narendra Modi who is the driving force at this crucial juncture to take India to its destiny.