12 September 2005

India rules

Until the late 1990s, India didn’t really matter to the world from a political point of view. Yes, of course, India did have an attraction because of its strategic location, commanding the Indian Ocean, but India’s military prowess was considered small and non-threatening. Pokran II changed all that. India became a “regional security” issue for the Americans, its allies and other nations keenly watching India’s military progress. In doing so, over the last ten years, India’s military strength has created a divide between India and the rest of the world.

In the heart of India, there’s another story in progress. To start with, there’s the conflict between secularism and the Hindutva. Then there are regional disparities, the caste issue, a religious divide (hence, secularism and the Hindutva), and the urban-rural divide I’ve been blogging about recently. Look at India’s history and you’ll see these same issues haunting us for centuries. We blame the British for it, of course, but, we cannot deny the fact that India is still a country of “divides”, each “divide” commanding its own presence in the minds of the Indian people… with the potential to explode into something dangerous at any moment.

Yet, at the same time, India has begun a long process of economic development… skilfully leveraging its competitive strengths from a global perspective. We have our software skills, our knowledge skills, our command of the English language, our ample supply of low-cost skilled manpower. India has the world’s best software engineers and medical practitioners. India is the world’s largest back-office service provider. India has the largest – and the fastest growing – base of consumers for goods and services. In the economic world order, you now have the four pillars: the U.S., the European Union and Russia, China, and India.

Despite the “divides” that govern India internally, India has developed into a nation of considerable military strength. India is no longer about poverty or the spice trade of yesteryears. It now has everything to do with information technology, cost-effective knowledge skills and the growing clout of Indians around the world. Shaking off its legacy of British colonialism, India has positioned itself as an Asian power and a part of the new global order.

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