June 4, 2023

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India, the New Global Power (II)

population: India overtakes China Most populous country in the world; Projections indicate that the current population of 1,400 million will reach 1,700 million by 2064 and the curve will flatten by 2047. It grows more in the poorer northern states (Bihar and Uttar Pradesh), while it grows more slowly in the richer south (Kerala and others). Only the average age of the population 29 years; The United States has the highest number of people under 38, and China has the highest number of people under 39. In India, people over 65 make up 7% of the population (14% in China and 18% in the US); And it will be only 30% by 2100. India’s fertility rate has fallen from 5.9 children per woman in 1950 to 2; But it still has 360 million young people of reproductive age. Successive Indian governments have consistently tried to curb population growth in favor of the country’s economic growth.

It gained independence from the British Empire 75 years ago when it was a very poor country. In the last 15 years, 420 million people have been lifted out of “multidimensional poverty”, a historic achievement, although most of them are still settled in the lower castes; Meanwhile, 10% of the population holds 77% of the wealth. No doubt Indian It is still an unequal society.. 40% of India’s population is under the age of 25; One fifth of the world’s youth (under 25) are Indians.

Education: 12% of American scientists are Indians; As do 32% of NASA mathematicians. India’s prestigious universities and institutes of technology are supported by the government, which allocates large resources and endowments to university education, hoping to compete with and surpass the best American, Chinese or British universities. Students (and their families), like in China, study and work hard away from the classical distractions of the West. In the British style, which still exists in India today, successive governments decided to create elites capable of competing internationally. Among nearly 400 prestigious Indian science universities Every year 200,000 engineers, 300,000 mathematicians, chemists and physicists graduate, and 2,000 earn the coveted PhD. India trains ten times more engineers every year than the US or the EU. As more graduates than domestically employable, they export engineers overseas and the best go to large global companies, gaining more useful experience and knowledge.

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Population dividend: A large amount Young people of working age If more resources are used for investments in human capital to promote productive employment and decent work opportunities in education, health, employment, social security and pensions, this presents an opportunity to accelerate economic growth and social development. Economic growth is directly related to short- and medium-term well-being. The benefit of the “demographic dividend” also contributes to this Consumer boom and promotion novelty, India stands alone in the development of knowledge economy globally. But this development is not guaranteed to be achieved in the short term as India needs to simultaneously invest in its geopolitical agenda and its national security. Those tough decisions will challenge the next generation. However, India has a good track record of positioning itself as a major manufacturing hub with a large domestic market, an expanding middle class and governments that have skillfully positioned India at the center of global interest. Giants like Apple have started moving part of their production to the country. India is estimated to become the third largest economy in the world by 2029.

Along with China, India will be the engine of the planet this year: between them they will contribute 50% of global growth. From the 10th century to the 18th century, India’s GDP and China’s accounted for 50% of the world total. 250 years ago, the two countries accounted for 70% of world production. And we come back, which corresponds to the size of the population.

From balance to power: With the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, India’s attitude towards the outside world changed. Without the economic and security support of its strongest strategic ally, it has been forced to diversify its foreign relations, which have been useful for a long time, since its inception, difficult and ups and downs, to consider itself highly dependent on itself. In the early 2000s, as a “great power”.

There was an Indian strategy Grow economically and technologically strong, as China has done, interacts with the global economy. As it expanded economically, Indian strategists began to plan for India’s active involvement in global and security affairs. Without losing national sovereignty, it began to interact with major and minor powers in what was later called the “Policy of Multiple Alignment”. In the sense that everyone had their share in this apparent “principle of power”, external actors also helped to harmonize this policy, which was only a mask of their real ambitions of power, both at the regional and scale levels. Regionally, South-East Asia and globally, the Indo-Pacific region is strongly involved in the disputed space, the issue being the dispute between the United States and China for the supremacy of the said space. Although India has been involved in various alliances with the US and its border disputes with China, India has never been willing to conduct joint patrols with the US in the South China Sea or criticize China in joint statements. With this he did not seek to “balance” but to establish his own geopolitical position. India’s growing maritime presence is driven by the need to secure its trade growth and strengthen strategic ties with Southeast Asia, East Asia, Oceania and the Pacific Island countries to achieve its goal of becoming a major power.

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Everything suggests that the center of gravity of the Sino-US dispute lies in the Indo-Pacific space; Consequently, India’s involvement will undoubtedly be an opportunity to exploit both financially and strategically. As with any long-term goal, the path is not without complications and difficulties. It is still a very poor and very unequal country; Its GDP per capita is USD 2,300, below countries such as Bangladesh (2,500) or Vietnam (3,800). In absolute values, India’s GDP is about US$3.2 trillion, compared to Russia’s at $1.8 trillion, China’s at $18 trillion and the US at $23 trillion, according to the IMF. The massive labor force is insufficiently trained to support the major changes many predict in the short term; According to the OECD, 46% of people over the age of 25 have not completed primary school. However, at the secondary and university level, they focused on relevant topics: digitization, industrialization, urbanization, rural development, infrastructure. It continues to be a largely agricultural country, employing 45% of the workforce in agriculture, although it represents only 20% of its economy. They are not an overtly exporting economy for now; In 2022 they exported 420,000 million US dollars, which is 13% of their GDP and less than 2% of world exports. It has a vast informal economy and one of the world’s lowest rates of female participation in formal employment. Additionally, India’s military-industrial complex faces structural weaknesses, which is why the internal capacity to manufacture defense equipment is limited, even as it seeks to take leadership on defense issues.

In short, India’s best foreign policy Partner with many countries (some, fighting among themselves), yet prefers to be friends with many, and does not seek to make enemies or create enemies with others. It remains wary of the security approach of “closed” alliances, leading to challenges in its bilateral or multilateral relations. India’s real desire is to jealously guard its idea of ​​strategic autonomy; It’s always hard to keep up.

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India, Russia, China and USA: India handles itself well in conflict situations including with its relations or friends. It has a historic alliance with Russia; Moscow is its main arms supplier and, after the invasion of Ukraine, its main (cheap) source of oil; At the same time it is part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (Russia, China, Pakistan and others); But at the same time, it has strengthened relations with Western countries, especially in the QUAD security forum (US, Australia and Japan) that focuses on the Indo-Pacific region. For Washington, a strong India has become a key partner in countering China’s growing power in Asia. With such an inherent capability of India, the Sino-Indian border issue is now shifting from a conflict to a normal management stage, and the situation on the border is expected to become more stable and peaceful in the future, facilitating the formation. Areas of cooperation include economic partnership and climate change. India and Russia are seeking to deepen their economic ties, which have grown since the conflict in Ukraine, leading to a free trade agreement. India aims to double its exports to Russia to $5 billion this year to bridge its trade deficit as crude oil imports rise. India’s imports from Russia have quadrupled to over $46 billion since 2021, while its exports to Moscow total less than $3 billion. The war has made it easier for Indian exporters to open up the Russian market, especially for electronics and auto parts; Double benefit for India; There are still problems with logistics and market access. Although the US is still its major trading partner, India ensures a range of highly competitive offerings of goods and services.

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India, the New Global Power (I)