“India in 2013—and Beyond”

Must read

Washington, DC – In 2004 the US National Intelligence Council (NIC) released “Mapping the Global Future,” forecasting what the world order would look like by 2020. In one of its boldest assertions—and historically most audacious—it stated: “As the rise of Germany defined the 19th century and the rise of the United States marked the 20th century, the rise of China and India will transform the geopolitical landscape for the 21st century.”

Last month the NIC came out with its latest long-range global forecast, “Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds.” Perhaps to modest India’s discomfort, the NIC again raised the bar for what can be expected from the soon-to-be world’s most populous nation: “In 2030 India could be the rising economic powerhouse that China is seen to be today.”

In support of this bullish prediction, the NIC called attention to the World Bank’s assessment that India will join China as an “emerging economy growth pole” by 2025 and that India’s contribution to global growth in coming years will surpass that of any individual advanced economy except the United States.

Talk about Dickens’s Great Expectations. Now we know what Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been drawing on when she says it is in America’s national interest to make a “strategic bet” on India’s rise as a global power and to act accordingly.

But for India today and its more immediate future, a reference to the opening line in another Dickens’s novel—A Tale of Two Cities—is a cautionary tale: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” As the NIC report and other publications (including by CSIS) point out, for India to maximize its advantages (including demographic with a youthful population), it will need “to boost its educational system; make substantial governance improvements, particularly in countering corruption; and undertake large-scale infrastructure programs to keep pace with rapid urbanization.”

How India addresses these three major challenges in 2013—education, corruption, and infrastructure—will say a lot about whether India will be able to achieve the “Great Expectations” many have for it in this century or find itself facing the title of yet another book by the great English novelist, Hard Times.

Ambassador Karl F. Inderfurth
+ posts

Ambassador Karl F. Inderfurth holds the Wadhwani Chair in US-India Policy Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C.

More articles

Latest article