Can India Overtake the United States and China as a Powerhouse?

India has been the most populous country in the world for some time now, making it one of the global superpowers. It will be enough to surpass the other two global mega powers: the United States and China .

People walking towards the Taj Mahal

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LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

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Leer en español: ¿Podrá India superar a Estados Unidos y a China como potencia?

Several decades ago, when China was on its way to development, many analysts were confident that it would unseat the United States as the world's hegemonic power. Although the United States is still the world's most significant power today, the Asian giant is the closest contender and could even surpass it in the future. However, China's greatest advantage in surpassing several countries and today is the second economic power (its overpopulation); today, that advantage is leaning towards India.

So, can India follow in its neighbor's footsteps and become a significant player on the global map? There is no hard and fast answer, but there are several tools that the former British colony has in its favor.

Since April, it is estimated that the total population of India has surpassed that of China. The UN estimates that by the end of 2023, India's subconscious will have 1,428 million inhabitants, 3 million more than China. However, as we have seen, even if in population it surpasses any other country, this will not guarantee to be an economic or military mega-power. For example, India was always the country with the second largest population but could not increase its power like China.

Read also: U.S. Allies Against China

Indian Economy

India currently ranks fifth among countries with the highest GDP, behind the United States, China, Japan, and Germany. Statista states it will overtake Germany by 2027 and Japan by 2028. However, as the academic Joseph Nye rightly said, "Is it the end of America's century?" the power of the economy will not be enough to compete with the United States and China, let alone surpass them.

For this to happen, India must achieve substantial changes in various aspects, both internally and externally. Firstly, to lift the 21.9% of its population below the poverty line. According to the World Bank, the country has made significant progress, from over 45% in 1993 to the current figures. However, the road is long. One of the greatest challenges is the caste system in several regions of India, condemning millions of people to poverty before they are born.

For example, GDP per capita is still far behind developed countries. Data from 2012 indicated a GDP per capita of $2,120, compared to $32,855 in the European Union. Even compared to China, it is still low, and the Eastern country has a GDP per person of about $12,160. It is even lower than Brazil ($8,519) or Mexico ($10,590).

Growing Industry

Although India started as a rural country, today, it has managed to diversify its industries. Today, India offers a wide range of industries, mainly in services. Thanks to the fact that the country is a native English speaker and a large number of its population speaks English, India benefits from being home to hundreds and thousands of companies that move their plants to the country, with an economically and linguistically savvy labor force.

Even recently, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the United States and met with large companies in the technology sector. Modi encouraged names such as Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Tim Cook, among others, to invest in his country. The vision of this territory is to become an ally of the United States and, at best, to counterweight China.

Nuclear Power

Another element that stands out about India is its nuclear power. Despite not topping the list, it is the seventh country with the largest arsenal, making it one of the most potent countries capable of persuading any possible invasion. It is estimated that India has about 155 nuclear warheads, below Russia (6,257), the United States (5,550), China (350), France (290), the United Kingdom (225), and neighboring Pakistan (165).

A large Army but Poorly Equipped

Despite India's great strides, the black mole is perhaps it's military spending. Despite its size and population, it has a much lower annual expenditure than Russia, China, and the United States. According to Global Firepower, the country spends about $54.2 billion a year, less than Russia's $82.6 billion, China's $230 billion, and much less than the United States $761.681 billion. In addition, it has large motilities with neighboring Pakistan (also a nuclear power), which keeps it at constant risk.

Little International Relevance

Despite all these comparisons, the most significant difference between India and other countries such as the United States, China, Russia, and even the European Union is its limited weight in global politics. India is not a member of the UN Security Council, has no significant allies in other continents, and its foreign relations are still far from the others. For example, India needs strong commercial and diplomatic relations in Latin America, far removed from the ties that China, the United States, Russia, and Europe already have.

India is indeed on its way to becoming a major global player. However, it must still grow in specific areas to compete with the mega-powers. For now, it is the world's largest market, but it is an impoverished market, albeit one with great potential.

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