2nd April 2011, a day Indians will remember as the day they became the superpower of world cricket, a day they won the World Cup. 1.2 billion Indians all around the globe erupted out of pure ecstasy. The roar could be heard from Hyderabad to Houston. It was one night when Eid, Diwali and Holi were celebrated at the same time. It was a moment when the patriotic emotions overflowed, a moment when entire India became one. The echoes will be heard for days. But alas, it won’t last for long. Soon the energies will subside and India will return to normalcy. The dividers of region, status, caste, creed and sex, which were once drowned under joy, will re-emerge. India will never be able to become a political superpower unless it learns to hold on to that moment of pure bliss when they became the cricket superpower. In our post “ENTER THE DRAGON” we had a look at the magnificent dragon. In the next post “INCREDIBLE INDIA” we saw the multi-faceted elephant. The dragon is miles ahead in the race to become the next superpower. But the race is far from being over yet. The elephant can give the dragon a run for its money, if only it changes few things.
After the war ridden 20th century, the new century brought hope of peace and prosperity to the world. However the start to the century hasn’t been good. The first decade saw 9/11, Afghan War, Lehman recession, Euro crisis, unrest in Middle East and the natural disasters like the one just happened in Japan. The only saving grace has been the emerging Asia. Their GDP’s have grown despite the crisis, and the quick recovery meant that the population absorbed the shocks easily shielding it from a major blow. That is why the world now sees them as the next superpowers.
China has an authoritarian rule that does not suffer from the problems of democracy. It is investing an enormous amount of money to develop its infrastructure. They produce and export in bulk quantities and hence can keep competitive prices by achieving economies of scale and cheap labour. The Chinese government played a masterstroke by targeting Africa as their next destination. But China has its share of problems too. Though they are investing 50% of their GDP, the citizens does not want to consume much (only 35% of GDP) which is not good in the long run. Then Mao’s Cultural Revolution wiped out the Chinese entrepreneurs in the 60-70s and majority of Chinese population do not know English. This is one area where India holds an advantage. The severe population control measures by their government also mean that China is growing old pretty fast. They also has a sex ratio that is heavily skewed towards males (especially for their under 15 population). The private rights are dramatically limited by the government and the citizens will one day want democracy. That change over will be a tough one.
India on the other hand has plenty of problems in her plate. The biggest of them are food and education. We keep saying India’s young growing population is its strength. However a hungry and illiterate population is hardly of any use. India’s literacy rate is 74%, 10% less than the global average. And even that number is much higher than reality as in India anyone who can right his/her name is called literate. We need a proper education that will open the mind of people and help them think in the right direction. Right education will help us fight corruption and give us a better system. Education will also generate quality workers which will boost our science and technology as well as agriculture and industry, which in turn will increase the per capita income. A higher per capita income will automatically decrease the crime rate. With the mass educated we can also expect a better government which will be stable and aggressive. But, above all, education has the power to wipe off the divisions that challenges India. It is only by educating the mass can we be able to achieve our dream of unity without which we will perish
The next thing that India desperately needs to improve is its agriculture. Farmers in India are mostly ignorant and have far less productivity than China. The trend with India has been to favor industrialization in place of agriculture. Industry is important, but so is agriculture. With the rising food inflation it has became much more important now. Agriculture has been neglected for ages; it is time for India to realize its importance. Not only production but also the storage and transportation of food have to be improved. 40% of harvest is wasted in the field, and that is a huge amount. Just by saving that 40% we can solve majority of our ‘stomach’ problem.
There are other things we need to improve as well. Infrastructure is the key amongst them. We were lucky to have one of the oldest railway systems in the world. But it somehow got frozen time. We never carried on from where the British left it. We have to make it much more effective and safe by upgrading it. The number of cars in Indian roads has increased dramatically, but our roads lags behind. We not only need to improve the quality of the roads, but also proper planning of roads. The ports also have to improve for better trading if we need to compete with China. The flight companies are also suffering because of the heavy taxes. Power cuts are very common in India, even in big cities. We need to improve the number and capacity of power generators as well. The social infrastructure, including the health system has to improve dramatically. Government does not have proper health insurance for citizens. Indian hospitals are not prepared for a major epidemic, nor are we prepared for a major natural calamity. Lots of poor people die in India because of lack of proper treatment. What is the use of a growing economy when the citizens do not have proper health facilities? Apart from infrastructure we also have to find more oil. Oil is still a dominant factor in strong economies. Both India and China lacks oil. China however is trying to colonize areas that have oil (Africa). But what is India doing. ONGC Videsh has been successful to a certain extent, but it is not aggressive enough. So, India has a lot to catch on, and only when it unites to solve those problems can we achieve the status of world superpower. Else, we do not deserve it.
The Indian elephant is on a democracy diet. Though the diet makes it steady, it also makes it slow and lazy. The Chinese dragon on the other hand feeds on authoritarian diet. It makes it agile and fast. The dragon thus got a head-start against the elephant in the race, but how long will he be able to continue? This diet makes it old very fast. Will it get tired soon? Or will it capitalize on the head start and change its diet to a more steady democracy? Will the Indian elephant take the magic pill of unity and learn to fly?