India is a nuclear power. We have sent a probe to the moon. We are a trillion dollar economy. We are an emerging IT power. We have dozens of Forbes billionaires. The Indian Army is the largest “volunteer” army of the world.
There are many reasons why India could be called an emerging superpower. But there are many fields where it is struggling to be even a power.
Power: Before the current economic meltdown, there was an interesting correlation between the world’s electricity index and the HDI or Human Development Index. If you looked at both lists, then they were eerily similar. That means higher the per capita consumption of electricity, the higher the quality of life.
India is woefully short on the power front. A whopping one-third of India’s population is still without electricity. And the amount of power cuts that the remaining two-thirds have to face is anybody’s guess.
Of course our power problems were brought to the forefront in the recent power grid collapse and the blackout that half the country faced. Mismanagement is the order of the day and states were back to overdrawing as soon as the blackout ended.
With power consumption steadily on the rise and infrastructure failing to keep up, the future looks dark indeed.
Woman Power: Women in India are molested and officials grandly declare that “they were asking for it” and get away with it. All woman victims face another ordeal by society, which largely appears to be chauvinistic in nature.
The chauvinistic character pervades out politicians, police force and even among many “respectable” elements of society. We are far from being a 24 hour society where women can roam freely at night.
While TV is showing the plight of so many urban women, take the Mangalore and Guwahati incidents for example, rural women have it much worse and are subject to a greater amount of whims and fancies of the menfolk.
Female infanticide is a big blot and dowry continues to be a menace.
How many top woman politicians and industrialists can you name who have made it without a dynasty backing or by virtue of replacing their husbands? The answer is very small and that should itself tell you something.
Glass ceilings are being broken all across the world, but India remains firmly behind. You cannot hope to get ahead in the world when you continue to suppress half your population.
Governance: Many of our professionals are world class and their number is rising by the day. We are making breakthroughs in greater and greater fields. Entrepreneurship is on the rise and there are many business reasons to smile.
But what about our politicians? They are hardly world class. They are not counted among the top leaders of the world. One-third of the Lok Sabha consists of chargesheeted politicians. In most top countries corruption is there, but it is the exception while in India it is the rule.
Even a highly educated Oxbridge technocrat in the form of Manmohan Singh is presiding over probably the most corrupt government in Independent India.
Black Money: More than 20 years back Finance Minister Madhu Dandavate estimated that black money in India was to the tune of half the national budget. For all you know, it may even exceed it!
What kind of economy can hope to bring an all-inclusive growth for all its citizens and fully integrate with the global economy if such a huge component is black?
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange had also once said that the corrupt of other countries were heavy spenders and the money at least made its way back into the economy of the country. Indian black money on the other hand is parked in huge amounts in Swiss banks and seems to be out of the Indian system indefinitely.
Infrastructure: Delhi is our top city in terms of infrastructure, but it is nowhere near to say a city like New York. While America and Europe were always ahead in the race even West Asia and Southeast Asia are making great strides. China is of course miles ahead.
While most of our cities are way behind in terms of their global counterparts, the less said about the towns and villages the better. We lag in basic issues like roads, water and schools.
Roti, kapda, makaan aur bandwidth: Forget houses, crores of Indians don’t even have access to basic food and clothing. There is the lower class. Below that there is the poverty class. Below that there is the destitute class. No amount of juggling of figures by the Planning Commission of India can hide the poor.
Among emerging nations we also lag far behind in terms of computer and Internet penetration.
Work-life balance: While prosperity has come to the cities, whither work-life balance? Millions of Indians slog all day in office putting up long hours and fighting things like traffic and paying bills.
In the villages while a rural elite has emerged, the crores of farmers see no respite. Bonded labour and farmer suicides are some of the issues, which we have just taken for granted.
Sports: Most superpowers are sports powerhouses. Russia dominated the Olympics at its peak. America is a superpower and is the most consistent performer in the history of the Olympics. China is emerging and topped the last Games tally. India in contrast got its first individual gold medal 112 years after the modern Olympics made its debut.
Superpowers dominate sports and it’s not just the sport. It all makes business sense and spawns a billion dollar industry and more importantly keeps the youth occupied in a positive manner.
The sports scene in India is pretty bleak. For all practical purposes cricket has only 8-10 regular nations and being dominant among them is no big deal. Our latest FIFA rankings are 163 and in many sports, forget being a power; we don’t even have a presence!
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