How important is India to the world?
Answer by Balaji Viswanathan:
India is becoming among the top 5 most important countries in the world.
1. World's 4th most powerful military
Various ratings put India's firepower at #4 [behind US, Russia and China]– Unlike the other 3 top powers, India has no intention to rule/police the world. Despite being in top 4, very few people worry about India's military [or even pay attention to it]. Lack of attention on this is good.
To complement its nuclear weapons, aircraft carrier, spy satellites & long range missiles, the military is constantly being tested in every setting – world's coldest & highest battlefields of Siachen, hot deserts of Rajasthan & Kutch and tropical jungles of the northeast. It has decades of experience fighting guerilla urban warfares in Kashmir, Punjab and elsewhere. The bad neighborhood makes for constant preparedness.
Still, India has not built a network of allies nor is trying to create an agenda for itself. This puts India in a very favorable position that will be both courted by other alliances as well as get pressure to stay independent as we have always been.
To burnish its peace credentials – India has contributed the world's largest number of troops to the UN.
2. Top 10 economy
India's GDP measured in nominal terms is around 10 and measured in PPP terms around 3. Either way, it is at the top. It is still growing fast and projected to become #2 or #3 in our lifetimes.
Vast numbers of Indians are rapidly climbing the ladders of wealth and India could become what China was in 1990s – source of growth for companies around the world. If India manages well, there will be enormous opportunities in a $10 trillion economy [by 2030 at current growth rate] that is being built now.
3. Food & Farming
India is the world's top 3 producers of food and the top 2 consumers of it. Although it is the 7th in overall area, it has the #1 farm land [in size] in the world [60%+ of India is arable, while less than a quarter of China is arable]. Changes in farm productivity could significantly impact global agricultural prices.
4. Human Development & Suffering
India is slowly becoming the world's largest nation by population [not a ranking to be proud of] and is a host to half of the world's humanitarian problems [poverty, malnutrition, communicable diseases..] This means that helping India grow can solve half of the world's problems. How sweet is that? The good thing is that unlike other poor nations, India is already on track. In India's villages lie the key to changing the human development indicators of the world.
5. Industries & Tech
Indian cities are among the top startup hubs in the world. Bangalore is routinely counted in top 7 (after Silicon Valley, NYC, Boston, London, Singapore & Tel Aviv) and other Indian cities come up in the top 20 too. From fashion design to software and space tech, India is making a mark. It is hard to find a major consulting, tech or financial firm without a strong base in India.