1. Hunger of power is the basic instinct of human nature. Every individual or group of individuals sharing common interests have desire of gaining superiority over others. The instinct of gaining power as a group, society or a nation has certain drives or motives which lead them to devote their efforts collectively to achieve their objectives. Basic purpose of being powerful is gaining authority of controlling and dictating others to achieve desirable results. India is also pursuing her objective of becoming regional major power. India is eleventh largest and amongst fastest growing economies of the world (IMF Reports 2009). With fourth largest armed force of the world India is all set to become a major power. However, she is still not one.
2. India is 4th largest military might but it is only one aspect which could help India in achieving her objective. However, India, by default, has certain elements which could really convert her into a regional or a major power. These potentials are described under:-
(a) Human Resource. One of the foremost and primary pre-requisite for climbing the ladder is manpower and India has a lot of it. A huge population of cross one billion and ten million (1,028,610,328 precisely official census data 2001) people is one seventh of the world. Such a humongous resource can very well be the best of what India has. Apart from a possible productivity from it, this also makes India a big market where most of developed countries would love to invest and exploit.
(b) Location. Geographical location puts golden bird on helms of all affairs. Most of the trade and oil routes cross right underneath her. This natural benefit makes India a very important player in international community. Trouble in Indian Ocean can create disturbance globally. Distance from oil producing countries (Middle East) and technologically rich countries (Far East) is comfortable enough resulting, in cheap logistic charges levied on import and export of India.
(c) Agriculture. India, by design is an agricultural country. She with her large water sources, land and well trained farmers can not only self support but also be an exporter of food and fruit crops. India is amongst those few countries which are not dependent on other countries for her food requirements.
(d) Rich History. National motivation can find its root in rich historic background. India or Hindustan is in books of history since long, as long as 4000 years. A motivated nation working in right direction to achieve lost glories is instrumental in a country’s` development.
(e) Maturity of State Systems. Despite of being young in age (60 years in comparison to other regional powers), India is the largest democracy with well established judicial and state management system. India has been through lots of doldrums, national disasters and wars since her birth but at no point her political system has collapsed. India has aggressive educational and health management programs. Although gross literacy rate in India is pretty less but still Indian health and IT professionals are regarded amongst the best in the world.
Hindrances in Indias Road to Regional Super Power
3. After having an insight of Indian potential, following paragraphs will elaborate the hurdles in Delhi’s` road to major or regional power.
(a) Proximity of China. India shares her Northern borders with China. Beijing, a nuclear and veto power has been exhibiting its desires of being called as ‘super power’. China and India had been involved in troubles over border issues. As China rises, and world turns to bi-polar; both the super powers would like to have their blocks propagating their say. It looks as if India has been picked by Washington as a watch dog over China. This may help India in local development in terms of military and industrial infrastructure; however, with this shake hand India is likely to become a potential threat for China. While being a problem child for a super power, dreams of becoming a major power may not come true.
(b) Disturbed Frontiers. Another big hurdle which India faces in accomplishment of her desires is relations with Pakistan. Despite of all Indian efforts of making theatre asymmetric in terms of conventional warfare; Pakistan still is a formidable conventional threat. India will have to cater for her western borders through keeping her guards high. For gaining superiority and maintaining it at all levels, India is participating in an arms race with Pakistan. This is an expensive deal; depriving both the countries from focusing on developmental expenditures. In addition to western issues, India is also having love affairs with China and Bangladesh. Without resolving these issues; India may not be able to achieve the status of major power.
(c) Nuclear Neighbours. India shares her borders with two nuclear powers; Pakistan and China. Presence of nuclear powers around her may not let her create military deterrence over the entire region. This means formula of ‘might is right’ requires redefinition. In today’s world, might includes economical strength as well and India lacks in this aspect. With colossal military spending India faces troubled economy which is far from calling a strong economy. Hence, Indian dream of enjoying bossy attitude over Nuclear Pakistan might remain a dream. No matter what India does, a ‘mutually assured destruction’ will always be like a hanging sword.
(d) Population Explosion. Though population is a big resource but not for India at least; not now for sure. With population touching one and a half billion people; India faces great challenge of feeding them. Imbalance of resources vs population leads to half of Indian fall below the poverty line and one third sleep without dinner. Shortage of residential facilities, corruption, meagre health facilities and education are major elements which require great deal of financial resource and India does not have that kind of money. Delhi’s efforts in controlling her population look futile as population growth is steaming at the rate of 1.44% per year and there will be more than one billion and one hundred million people to take their share by twenty-eleven. To solve these issues India requires a big cultural change backed with strong national treasury which is a distant reality.
(e) Internal Political Drags. Freedom movements in Kashmir, Tamil Nado, Asam, Nagaland, Tripura, Punjab and Mizoram are big headache for India. Although, India has been successful in not letting world know a much about them (good foreign office) but internally, Indian government is in a mess. India is a consortium of numerous races and breeds, managing their expectations and keeping balance of resources amongst them is an uphill task. Although Indian federation looks strong; however these liberation movements are small bleeding cuts which are continuously making it weak. Most significant out of these all is the Kashmir issue which keeps her relations with Pakistan on flash point.
(f) Religious and Political Extremism. Despite of being a capitalist state India has a great influence of communism. India faces hard liners from right and left wing parties with conflicting objectives and policies. In addition to political rivals, India houses religious extremists like sheu sina etc. India projects herself as a secular state and is the only way she can survive. However, Hindus being a majority want India to be purely Hindustan which may not be possible with a Muslim minority sizing 270 million people, concentrated population of Sikhs in Punjab and other considerably large sized minorities. The drags and resistances between political and religious faiths create unrest leading towards instability and biased policy making, poor governance, sectarianism, and religious hatred. India is not in the position of keeping every one ‘happy’.
4. India is growing fast. Primarily, India will have to resolve issues with Pakistan and China to be in a position where she can really employ her potential to gain global position as regional power. There are too many fault-lines in Indian society which are pulling her downwards despite of rapid economical growth. There is no denying of the fact that India does have potentials to be a major power and they somewhat are amongst the big role players, but being an established and accredited ‘regional and major power’ India needs to do a lot more and she is doing so.