India is an ancient land where innumerable civilizations thrived. It is a country which, has withstood the ravages of time and upheld its identity as an independent, self-reliant nation. India is a land of diversity, where variety is the spice of life.
A country that is the abode of over 1/6th of the global population, it is a nation that is vibrant with the dream of its people. India of the 21st century is not just a nation, but a dream-a vision of countless souls aspiring to belong to a strong, self-reliant, powerful and developed nation.
In the beginning of 1990-91 the then Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao was forced to declare that "our coffers are empty" and India was forced to pledge its gold to borrow the scarce forex. But in 2004 Prime Minister Dr. Man Mohan Singh in his Independence Day speech said, "From being a borrower, India today lends money to poorer nations".
The economic growth rate is poised to touch the figure of 8 percent even as the world economy has slumped. Once empty coffers are now bulging with about $139 billion foreign exchange.
This year India's growth rate could outstrip China's, according to Asia Week and prove more sustainable. From far off Silicon Valley to home base Bangalore, Indians are big in global software development. India has also made stupendous progress in the entertainment industry and Bollywood is no less than Hollywood.
India's core institutions, from an independent judiciary and a feisty free Press to a massive minimum nuclear deterrence and always a political military, are anchored by roots more than half a century old.
There is mounting support for India to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. India could well be looking forward to metamorphose from being a regional player to a global player in the decades ahead. This year, India strongly contended for holding the 2010 Commonwealth Games and won the bid in the face of a strong contender like Canada.
The country's scientists plan to launch a moon probe (Project Chandrayaan). Then there is the brightest jewel in India's crown: its firm adherence to democracy. Put all this together and the surprise is not that India is gore crashing the elite Super Power Club but that it did not happen earlier.
In order to belong to a Super Power Club, the country must be amongst the front ranking nation in the fields like Economy, Defense, Science and Technology and Information Technology so as to play a leadership role in politics and diplomacy.
International Monetary Fund and World Bank appreciated India's annual growth rate of 6-7 percent though there is a scope for further improvement. Solid economic base acts like a 'shock absorber'. This 'shock absorber' reduces the impact of adverse developments on the domestic front.
Goldman Sachs report on global economics (October 1, 2003) that, "If things go right, in less than 40 years, Brazil, Russia, India, China- the BRICs economies together could be larger than G-7 in $ terms."
At present, we are one of the major South Asian powers, both economically and militarily. In fact, the latest World Investment Report released by UNCTAD clearly indicates that India possesses a great potential to challenge China economically in the near future. Our country today is having virtually all types of industries from bicycle to aircraft.
Foreign investors are very ready to grab Indian markets. In fact, our country is among the top ten hottest destinations for foreign investors. Investments by foreign institutional investors (FIIs) during 2003 crossed the $7 billion mark-more than double the previous high of $3 billion recorded in 1995.
India has also attained considerable progress in the field of Education and ranks second in the world, with more than50, 00,000 students enrolled in higher education. Our universities and educational institutions have earned international acclaim within a short span of their inception. We are in a position to challenge the world power through brainpower and mind power nurtured in our schools, universities, IIT's and IIm's.
Just browse the mind-boggling statistics and it might send a chill down the spine of any country or anyone who is not happy about India taking a leap forward. India has 5 lakh engineers, 2.5 lakh doctors and 75 lakh graduates.
The Prime Minister of Britain, Mr. Tony Blair said that, "The two Asian giants, India and China, would take away more UK services and manufacturing jobs if Britons remained poor-skilled and under-educated."
No wonder India has become the back office to global corporations as a waking BPO giant that has made the US administration jittery, forcing it to bring a law against outsourcing. India is also the centre of cutting-edge research, the global original equipment manufacturer of auto ancillaries and the preferred supplier of infrastructure erection- construction skills.
Science and Technology is racing ahead, discovering new avenues. Implementations and improvisations are being carried out day-by-day, improving the living standards and finding solutions for problems, which were never thought to emerge in the near future. Starting from tissue culture we have traveled up to cloning products, whereby the carbon copies of life are produced for future use. Gene therapy has started giving a new lease of life to patients suffering from incurable diseases.
Genetic engineering has amassed invaluable depth of knowledge in all walks of life. The 21st century is going to reap the fruits of these developments. Especially in the production process of proteins.
Science and Technology has advanced immensely and Indians rule the roost in Information Technology (IT). It is not the much published IT and BPO sectors alone in which we have demonstrated our excellence but also in diverse other fields too. By investing overseas from Sudan to Sri Lanka, firms like ONGC and IOC are transforming themselves from domestic oil giants into multinational energy majors.
India has also begun to commercialize indigenously developed satellites, Defense equipment and peaceful nuclear products and technologies, which is a distinct imitation of Super Power syndrome. Buoyed up by the communication revolution at home, India is prepared to share its knowhow with other countries.
During his visit to Johannesburg, South Africa, out Hon'ble President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam announced an ambitious $50 million Programme to connect all the 53 countries of the African Union by the integrated satellite, fibre optics and wireless network. India's offer of a "connectivity mission" among the African nations shows the true potential of India.
Can anyone imagine the highly plural nature of Indian society where one finds people of different ethnic stocks, religions and languages? Fifty- eight years on, Indian democracy has proved successful despite the fact that critics had doubted the success of democracy in India, handicapped by resource crunch, overpopulation and illiteracy.
General elections in India are the largest exercise in adult franchise taking place anywhere in the world. Elections in India have become a model for many of the developing countries in Asia and Africa.
If India is to become a world power, we should start playing a proactive role at various international meets (like we did at the recent WTO meeting in Cancun, Mexico). We should increase our participation in various activities at the world level. Our presence should be substantial and visible to all and if need be, we should register our presence forcefully and not just get sidelined.
In the tricky trade negotiations, India sought to articulate the voice of the Third World blocking the efforts of the rich countries to formulate a trade regime that suited the interests of the Western countries at the cost of billions of poor living in Asia, Africa and Oceania.
We have come closer to the countries in the South-East Asian region and after an India- ASEAN Summit, on December 22,2003, India, Myanmar and Thailand agreed to kick off the first phase of $700 million 1,360 km trilateral highway linking the three nations.
The Vision 2020 Report, prepared by a committee headed by Planning Commission member, Mr. S.P. Gupta, visualizes that by the next 15 years, the country's 1.35 billion people would be better fed, better dressed and better housed, healthier, more educated and living longer than any generation in the country's history.
The committee also envisions quadrupling of the per capita income if the country if the country maintains a growth rate of 9 percent per annum and the population growth rate of 9 percent per annum and the population growth comes down to about 1.6 percent per annum.
"Assuming that India achieves this quadrupling of per capita income by 2020, it would attain a level of development far higher than where China is today, and on par with upper- middle income countries such as Argentina, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico and South Africa," the report says.
India is on its way to become a self-sufficient military power with "The Self-reliance Mission in Defense, 1995-2005". We do have large number of military force. We are a fair strong power since we have one of the largest armies in the world. In recent past the country managed to expand the reach of its Navy and Air Force. Our ships are sailing around the world.
We have sent our forces in different countries of world for peacekeeping purposes. After Iraq war the US constantly sought the help of Indian Armed Forces, which in itself shows the capacity of Indian military.
The eminent historian, Mr. Arnold Toynbee once Lacknow ledged India's greatness and its relevance to the entire human race in these words: "It is already becoming clear that a chapter which had a Western beginning have to have an Indian ending.
At the supremely dangerous moment in human history, the only way of salvation of mankind is the Indian way: Emperor Ashoka and Mahatma Gandhi's principles of nonviolence and Shri. Ram Krishna's testimony to the harmony of religions."
Given the size of the country, given its size of population, given its endowment of resources, given its diversity and endowment of skilled labour there is no reason India cannot be a Super Power. Our major concern is to develop the economy. And if once we succeed in developing the economy other things will follow. Japan is one such example.
Management must be efficient, good and systematic. The road map to become a Super Power is that it does not bypass the majority. In the mixed economy like ours balance is a must. Targeting certain areas for the development simply mean narrow vision.
Indian Diaspora spread across the four corners of glove has brought laurels for the country excelling in every conceivable field. According to a recent survey by a German magazine: "There are 3.22 millions of Indians in the US (1.5 percent of population). Yet 38 percent of doctors and 12 percent of scientists in the US are Indians.
Thirty-six percent of scientists, 34 percent of Microsoft employees and 28 percent of IBM employees are Indians. You may even find Indians in the US President's core strategic teams as well as in the Pentagon and the Bell Lab. It is not very surprising to find Indian business leaders in billionaires' Club and business organizations in the Fortune List.
Whatever the field, spiritual or materialistic, India and Indians can set the farthest goals and reach them if they are propelled by strong will power and faith in themselves. When you become a model of excellence, which can ignore you? For there is nothing better than the best. And we have shown to the world that India and Indians can do it!
But all that glitters is not gold. There is another India that has become static, sector wise and state wise. How are we going to solve the other chronic problems such as urban and rural poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, child labour, and exploitation of women, rampant corruption and the like? Corruption should be looked upon as the AIDS of our system.
AIDS comes out of uncontrolled indulgence in sex. Corruption is nothing but financial rape and financial adultery. India can be said to have reached the top of the world only when we erase the dividing line between the haves and have nots. But this dividing line can be erased if there is a strong political will among all concerned the political class, the bureaucracy, the corporate world and the community itself.