A Superpower in the Making?
BY JEFFREY R. AMBROSE
May 10, 2006
The rise of this growing nation will change the balance of power in Asia—and potentially the world.
With nearly 1.1 billion inhabitants, India is the second largest country on earth in population, and seventh largest in geographical area, over 1.1 million square miles. This is almost 1,000 people for every square mile of area nationwide—much denser than even China.
Since achieving independence from British rule in 1947, it has seen its share of conflict, struggle and setbacks. Although India still faces many challenges, it is now poised to reach a higher position on the world scene than at any previous time.
The Indian economy has grown an average of around 6% annually over the past decade and 8% per year over the past three years—among the fastest rates in the world. It boasts an emerging middle class and increasing gross domestic product, exports, employment and foreign investment. This is complemented by a roaring stock market (index value up by a third in 2005 and by 200% since 2001), low external debt and large foreign exchange reserves.
Recent visits from leaders and officials from the United States, France, Germany and Russia have spotlighted India’s rise. These wealthier nations see India as a trading partner with enormous potential.
Although it has not yet matched the financial performance of China—currently the fastest-growing economy in the world—according to some analysts, India shows even more long-term potential for rapid growth. Leaders from both nations have discussed the creation of a Chinese-Indian common market based on the European Union model. Although only an idea at present, if realized, it would be the largest economic system in the world, home for about 2.5 billion consumers—almost 40% of the human race (or 3 of every 8 people on earth)!
India’s growth becomes more impressive in light of the fact that it is driven by a fraction of its population. Much of the.