How will India be in 2030 - a new book charts the course
India wants to be the third-largest economy in the world by the end of this decade, raise Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education to 50 per cent, end extreme poverty and produce 450 GW of renewable energy. The Narendra Modi government has undertaken bold reforms to meet the manifold aspirations across sectors and usher the country on a faster growth path. A new book looks at the journey that India will undertake in the next ten years as it meets challenges in the neighbourhood and beyond and gets rid of bottlenecks and inefficiencies to realise its inherent strengths.
India wants to be the third-largest economy in the world by the end of this decade, raise Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education to 50 per cent, end extreme poverty and produce 450 GW of renewable energy. The Narendra Modi government has undertaken bold reforms to meet the manifold aspirations across sectors and usher the country on a faster growth path. A new book looks at the journey that India will undertake in the next ten years as it meets challenges in the neighbourhood and beyond and gets rid of bottlenecks and inefficiencies to realise its inherent strengths. The book 'India 2030: The Rise of a Rajasic Nation' seeks to capture the India of 2030, walks a decade-long journey with all its major and minor trails and tells what India will look like 10 years from now. Edited by Observer Research Foundation Vice President Gautam Chikermane, the book has essays by 20 thought leaders on themes that will impact and influence India through the 2020s. It carries advanced praise from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Experts who have contributed to the book include former Supreme Court Judge BN Srikrishna, former R&AW chief Vikram Sood, Vedic teacher David Frawley, former CSIR director general RA Mashelkar and Bibek Debroy, chairman Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister. Chikermane notes that it is not a prescriptive but predictive book and is a "definite envisioning of the future". The book has been published by Penguin Random House. In his essay 'Politics: Return to Conservatism, Rise to Great Power' BJP leader Ram Madhav, who is also a member of Governing Board of India Foundation, says that 2020s will see India return to its conservative roots.
He says this decade will belong to India, its resurgence will be driven by Bharat. He also says that the decade will lay the foundations for a Right-dominated discourse. "Politically, the decade will consolidate the change that gained strength in 2014 but began earlier. It will lay the foundations for a Right-dominated discourse. A new nationalism will flourish in a variety of ways. Neither caste nor religion will drive politics, but performance and trust will. This philosophical change will express itself through politics, of course. But equally, it will drive new streams of narratives around economics, development, infrastructure, enterprise, technology and culture. This decade will belong to India, and its resurgence will be driven by Bharat. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be the driver of this resurgence. Modi stands on the shoulders of several other leaders such as Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Shyama Prasad Mukherjee. But the final change will be driven by citizens who will oversee the rise of the Indian economic miracle, watch as it grows towards becoming a great power, and ensure the rise is peaceful, inclusive and integral."
He says that the Congress party under Nehru had started representing Centre-Left politics, while the Jan Sangh emerged as a Centre-Right alternative to it. He refers to the birth of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 1980 and "its meteoric rise in just a decade's time to emerge as India's principal opposition" and says the erosion of the influence of the Congress in Indian politics and the rise of the BJP at the same time are not just two political developments. "They signify the decisive ideological shift that has taken place among the Indian polity over the course of the past four decades."
"Under Vajpayee, the country witnessed the transformation of Indian politics into a Right nationalist mould. The culmination of this process happened when Narendra Modi stormed his way into the Indian parliament in 2014 with a 282-seat absolute majority for BJP. Prior to becoming prime minister of the country, Modi became the rallying point for the cultural nationalists in the country. As chief minister of Gujarat, Modi cultivated a development-focused, industry-friendly and progressive image for himself that was clearly in line with the conservative economic ideas of the Indian Right. As a core cadre of the RSS, he also represented the socio-cultural ideas of the Indian Right. The emergence of Modi on the Indian political horizon has marked the beginning of a new phenomenon in Indian politics. Modi emerged as the most iconic leader in the country, with no other leader in the Opposition coming anywhere near him. The BJP too has grown to become the only party with a pan-Indian presence, while the influence of the other national party, the Congress, has shrunk to an all-time low." Ram Madhav notes that liberals dismiss it as 'identity politics', but the Indian mind responds affirmatively to the idea of a cultural-civilizational identity. "Gandhi used it to the hilt, but Nehru, even though he wrote extensively about its richness, nevertheless rejected its role in the country's politics. Modi's style is to wear his cultural-civilizational identity on his sleeve."
He says Panchamrit, or the five pillars are PM Modi's contribution to foreign policy. "Samman--the dignity and honour of every Indian; Samvad--greater engagement; Samruddhi--economic prosperity; Suraksha--internal and external security; and Samskriti--culture and civilization, have become the new pillars. Modi's diaspora diplomacy is a path-breaking initiative." Ram Madhav notes that the coming decade is going to be dominated by the nationalist politics of PM Modi and the BJP.
In his essay 'Defence: Nine Trends Will Dominate the 2020s', Abhijit Iyer-Mitra, a senior fellow at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, says that the 2020s will be a breakaway decade for defence. "This decade will see major changes in the way the sector has been seen, politically, economically and technologically. Among the major changes will be a shift from offsets to work share, big business to small and medium defence-focused enterprises, and a shift to air from ground-centrism. And while there will be a greater reliance on Russia for weapons sourcing, the decade ahead will simultaneously see a closer alignment with the West. These changes will be driven by a larger economy and a greater role for India in international affairs."
He says that nine trends will start emerging this decade as a result of economics, politics, technology and circumstances, should optimal policy prevail. "A shift from offsets to work share; shift from big conglomerates to MSMEs in defence production; shift from a government-run model of defence production to a private sector one; streamlining of what technologies and projects the government invests in; steady synchronization of Indian defence production and purchases with the Occidental military-industrial complex; an ever-decreasing reliance on Russia; bifurcation of economic and security policy; shift to air-centrism from ground-centrism, prioritization of interoperability, ISR and network centricity over an outright purchase of platforms."
"It remains to be seen how effectively and smoothly these changes will occur. In open societies like India, naturally, changes are accompanied by significant public acrimony. The real challenge will be managing and smoothening these clashes. In many ways, these challenges are a microcosm of the challenges India faces as a society." He says perhaps the most important shift that India will see in the 2020s will be the swing from warfighting to war-winning, which now depends overwhelmingly on air combat.
The essay also talks about the lessons and positives of Balakot air strikes. "Any proper introspection will accelerate the process towards optimization of the air combat paradigm, making it a highly reliable, flexible and precise tool for policymakers to use in times of crisis. Indeed, this will quite possibly become one of the most significant trends of the 2020s and will herald a shift to full air-centrism." In his essay, Foreign Policy: India Will Be a 'Bridge Nation', Samir Saran, President of Observer Research Foundation, says that India's journey towards a $10 trillion economy by the mid-2030s will shape and be shaped by its foreign policy priorities in the decade ahead.
"After all, India will be the first major power to transition from a low- to middle-income economy amid the fourth industrial revolution, the disenchantment with globalization and in the backdrop of a global pandemic which has all but exposed the frail ethics and malicious influence that have now come to define global governance. India will indeed be a 'bridge nation' in the coming decade. India will continue responding to its twentieth-century development challenges (albeit constrained by a modest per capita GDP and a low tax-GDP ratio), even as millions of Indians embrace digital technologies to influence political outcomes and create new pathways for social and economic mobility. He says multipolarity will be the norm and multilateralism will be contested and the coming decade will test India's ability to 'behave'--or wield its influence--as a great power does.
"The past two decades witnessed India emerge as a global actor through sheer size. In essence, its massive demography, rapid economic rise and geographical importance have made it indispensable to global conversations of any consequence. The coming decade will test India's ability to 'behave'--or wield its influence--as a great power does. There is a large potential in such a future: India will be the first power that has identified itself with the equitable governance of the global commons." Author and writer Monika Halan, in her essay 'Money: A Brief History of the Future' looks back at India's economic journey and progress from what it will be in 2030.
"The savings bank in your phone will become the investment bank in the 2020s. Money will flow seamlessly across all financial transactions, go where it's needed at a tap--data will become the new oil. This faster velocity of money will bring with it a greater transparency and a higher accountability in the financial system. This will result from and simultaneously drive the democratization of finance. But no surprises here: as the world's third-largest economy in the decade, Indians expect nothing less but will get a lot more. The marriage of technology with money will produce several changes in the way India consumes, grows, creates, builds, invests and transacts. "Writing in 2030, I see that the face of money and its expression have changed beyond recognition over the last decade, arguably the fastest change since Independence," she says.
She says regulatory and legislative changes that began in 2014 "have been consolidated and strengthened over the last ten years". "Citizens have finally monetized the data they create; ownership rights over data have been streamlined and legislated by law. This has empowered the poor in ways we couldn't imagine in 2020."
Chikermane notes in the preface of the book that India stands at a crossroads of several simultaneous disruptions at the start of the decade. "Not all disruptions of the 2020s will be government-led and several sectors will be driven by private actors, for profits as well as not-for-profits, and will contribute to the flowering of India."
Chikermane says that beyond all other transformations in India, the 2020s will see a rajasic reawakening of the nation. In his essay 'Forces: Consolidation of a Rajasic India', he says that the discovery and organization of this rajasic force have been enurmerated, analysed and its principles extracted into former knowledge through Sankhya, one of the six intellectual traditions of India. Other essays in the book are - Health: Looking Beyond a Cultural Extinction Event by Rajesh Parikh; Economy: From Wealth Redistribution to Wealth Creation by Bibek Debroy; Justice: Technology Will Deliver Exponential Efficiency by BN Srikrishna; Spying: Intelligence Will Need to Rethink, Reinvent Itself by Vikram Sood; Multilateralism: From Principles to Transactions, and Back Again by Amrita Narlikar; Energy: Powering GDP, Fuelling Development by Kirit S. Parikh; Urbanization: India Finally Lives in Liveable Cities by Reuben Abraham; Work: Citizen-Firm Productivity through Effective Governance by Manish Sabharwal; Education: Four 'Fantastic' Forecasts by Parth J. Shah; Policymaking: The Coming Rise of Science in Policy by Ajay Shah; Science and Technology: India Will Be a Producer of Knowledge, Not Just a Consumer by Raghunath Anant Mashelkar; Soft Power: India Will Be the Confluence of Materialism and Spiritualism by Amish Tripathi; Friendships: Ideology and Technology Will Unfriend Society by Sandipan Deb; Nationalism: An Integral Union of the Nation with the Self by Devdip Ganguli; Civilizational Resurgence: India Will Reconnect with Its Ancient Past to Ride into a Dharmic Future by David Frawley.
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