India must overcome the same serious challenges facing many emerging economies: immense rural to urban migration, rapid growth and industrialization, massive infrastructure needs, corrosive corruption, large cultural divides, and an uneasy relationship with meddling foreign nations and transnational organizations. Despite recent assessments about its vulnerability and instability, I am tempted to think that India might be particularly well positioned to become the major geo-political power of this century.
By 2050 India likely will have the world’s largest population and economy. The world by then will be evermore interconnected. Reverberations from climate change, resource scarcity, and political disruption will be amplified beyond what we can comprehend in 2012. Nuanced transnational relationships will likely determine whether humanity can continue a trajectory of sustainable development.
By 2050 India’s history will include emergence from some of Earth’s very first major civilizations through colonialism on to become the world’s largest democracy and biggest economy. In the process it will have negotiated unparalleled diversity of cast, language, religion, and wealth. It may already possess unparalleled cross-cultural understanding and networks that enable its citizens to be powerful actors in multicultural, transnational enterprises.
India’s history and diversity may provide a foundation of resilience not possessed by other major world powers. Let’s hope India realizes its leadership potential. The world of 2050 will need it.