The India Story!
India, a country with a population of more than 1.4 billion, is also the world’s largest democracy. In the last several years, India has been emerging as a global player in world. Be it in terms of economics, diplomacy or defense, India saw an upsurge this year. A few months ago, I had written about how pluralism was India’s differentiator as a nation and I believe this is a reason for this growth. Independent India is a plural nation that emphasizes multi-polarity and that has been working so far and will continue to.
I’ve had the honor to Chair the Indo American Chamber of Commerce, Karnataka this year and from what I’ve seen firsthand, there’s a favorable opinion of the country in the West. With the rise of China and its often-aggressive postures, India is considered that much needed counterbalance in this region. India, though closely aligned with US in multiple levels, also maintains good relations with Russia and many other conflicting ideologies. As a nation, India’s foreign policy has advocated strategic autonomy.
While many past U.S. presidents have had strong ties with India, under the current U.S. President, Joe Biden, there was a state visit of Prime Minister Modi in June and Mr. Biden visited India in September to attend the G-20. A lot of collaboration in defense and technology is underway and is on an upsurge.
The India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) shows India’s strong partnership with the Middle East. Also, India in the past has signed free-trade agreements with Australia, UAE, Thailand, Singapore and many others and a few more are soon to be concluded and perhaps signed in early 2024. India’s economic and security ties with Egypt and Saudi Arabia have also expanded this year.
A successful G20 Presidency and a global leader!
After convening the Global South virtual summit with 125 countries in January 2023, India was also invited to attend the G7 meet by Japan in Hiroshima (India was one of the 8 invited countries) in May. It does not come as a surprise, as with a GDP of $3.66 trillion, India’s economy is greater than France, Italy, and Canada – three member countries of the G-7. Soon after that, India also participated in the third in person quad summit in Hiroshima with Australia, Japan and the United States of America.
India also hosted the China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit virtually in July and was also the rotating president. A month later, in August, India attended the BRICS summit that welcomed Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and UAE as new members. The G20 summit in September, hosted by India, was the first ever summit to be held in South Asia and leaders of 43 countries attended it. India was also invited to attend the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) summit last month. Interestingly, both BRICS and the G20 included countries from the Global South this year.
India’s multi-religious, multi-ethnic and pluralistic society is respected globally by developing and developed nations. India is also a first responder when it comes to humanitarian aid and relief, be it during Covid-19 where India initiated vaccine diplomacy, or even sending relief to Ukraine and Gaza and even while hosting the G20, health was a key focus. Overall, a very successful presidency year for India of the G20 in 2023.
Over the last few years, led by PM Modi and FM Jaishankar, India has boosted its bilateral engagements not just with the U.S. and its allies, but also with countries in the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia.
Moon Landing: Chandrayaan-3
India’s ISRO completed the Chandrayaan-3 mission earlier this year and it was intensely tracked by the entire world. The successful moon landing was not only a matter of pride for the nation, but also opens so many economic prospects for India. It will elevate space economy in India and a lot of startups will flourish with support from Make in India.
Indian Cricket team played top class cricket during the ICC Cricket world cup 2023 held in November. They won 10 games in a row leading up to the finals but unfortunately could not cross the final hurdle and lost to Australia. Virat Kohli created history by scoring 50 ODI hundreds during this tournament. They are still number 1 in all formats this year. Indian women’s cricket team also won their maiden gold medal in Asian Games defeating Sri Lanka in the finals. The women’s cricket team is on an upsurge with their first ever test win against Australia recently and a big test win against England is also a testimony to that.
In badminton, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty became the first Indian pair to seize the men’s doubles title at the Indonesia Open – following successes at the Commonwealth Games and world championships. India’s men’s football team secured their ninth SAFF Championship title against Kuwait and Indian men’s hockey team won the Asian Champions trophy. Neeraj Chopra’s gold medal in the men’s javelin throw at the World Athletics Championships is etched in history and so was India’s performance at the 2023 Asian Games with a record tally of 107 medals.
India is clearly on an upsurge. We should soon be crossing Germany and Japan to become the third largest economy in the world, and with a huge market, we cannot be ignored. It is also an attractive investment destination due to skilled labor, the market, and manufacturing costs along with a favorable industrial environment. 68 percent of India is of working age (15-64 years) and 65 percent is under the age of 35 – this makes India a young work force. Initiatives like Make in India will play a huge role in the coming years where manufacturing will be key.
And what’s more! The world is courting India and we must leverage it in 2024!