Many economists predict that China and India will be the next superpowers by 2045. But will the world give India and its culture the respect due to a superpower, as well as recognition of its economic prowess? What position in the cultural, ethical, and economic spheres will India take in the panoply of nations? What will other developing nations find in us to emulate?
Currently, one can diagnose negative perceptions about U.S., the present superpower, around the world. Some are due to participation in successive wars; lost credibility; waning manufacturing leadership; and perhaps immigration restrictions that fly in the face of what America, a country of immigrants, used to stand for. China is the manufacturing hub of the world and many of the daily routine products of a U.S. household are manufactured in China. There may be a growing backlash, however, against Chinese products due to quality issues. And certainly intellectual property rights and ownership ethics have been a problem in China.
India has the chance now to leverage on these changed equations and be a respected superpower by playing its cards carefully.
What are some of the barriers and risks as India takes its leadership position? True leadership may require cultural evolution. First, the discipline of planning and responsibility. Thirty years ago, as I lived in India before leaving for the U.S., I was accustomed to the Indian way of functioning, also known as ‘chalta hai mentality’. It is both a reaction to the traditional realities of life in India, and a mind-numbing virus that is still existent in the Indian corporate body.
With unreliable infrastructure, such as electricity service, and widely varying standards of hygiene in public places – the attitude certainly proclaims: ‘chalta hai’.