January 27, 2013

Superpower, who?

Many people of my generations were fed on the constant diet of how India is going to be the next superpower in the world. It was far fetched, but a few of us did have some belief in the notion that may be, after a couple of decades, we would be there. It was the late 90s and early 2000s when the notion was at its peak, and 2020 was the year which was considered a good approximation of when our nation would have progressed enough. 

Well, more than a decade has passed since then, and we are now in 2013. And yet, the dreams are as distant as they were a decade back. We still hope for things to get better over the next couple of decades, and its certainly not 2020 when India shall arrive. Someone had aptly said that we over estimate the changes which would happen in the short term, and under estimate the changes that would happen over the long term. Over the short term, we have been proven wrong here, and its now getting pretty clear that next decade and half would certainly belong to China. They have improved much more than anyone had anticipated, and slowly and slowly I am becoming a fan of their model of development. There are shortcomings, no doubt, but the system has served them wonderfully well. 

Many in the region view it as a China Vs India story, which is wrong at so many levels. China is ahead of India by at least a good 20 years, if not more. So, any comparison along similar lines is plain foolhardy. Secondly, they have been following a different model of development than India, and have been focussing more on industries meant for export. Only in recent times they have started looking inwards, and are now trying to develop domestic consumption. India on other hand, is still struggling to keep its economy moving, and doesn't really cater to any outside demand. Multinationals view India's population as a big potential market, but for that to happen, the population needs to be productively involved in producing something for the outside world. At the moment, its missing, and hence the big trade deficit. However, I'm hopeful on this front. As China develops, and become more and more prosperous, India would start exporting a few things to them. The cost of labor would be much more cheaper in India, and that should give us plenty of opportunities to manufacture goods for exports. 

We need a few more reforms from the government, a little more open economy, a little less of controls and license raj, and we shall certainly have a better economy. For now, it seems like 2030 would be a good timeframe to target. 

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