Will India ever become a superpower?
Igor Markov, Been there done that.
Updated Dec 8, 2015 · Featured on Slate and Quartz
Originally Answered: Will India become a global superpower by 2050? If yes, how?
This is possible but not at all easy. For the sake of long-term analysis, let's neglect some of India's current weaknesses which may get resolved in 10-20 years, but focus on fundamentals and their manifestations.
India's economy is projected to reach the #3 spot by 2020 (by at least some analysts and metrics; it's already there by PPP), surpassing Japan, and trailing only (#1) and the US (#2). In view of 's recent economic troubles and suspicious accounting, 's ascent is in doubt, but India's upward path seems more certain (say, by 2030), as its excesses have been smaller so far. Of course, India's economy must become more robust and structurally sound, while the legal sy em must strengthen as well, and co ption must be addressed. Going forward, India has huge pential due to its large population, a long-standing tradition of de acy and stable go nment sy em with non-violent transitions, convenient location for trade, promity to major oil exporters, decent standing in the world, a large English-speaking population, massive engineering education that is gradually improving in quality, and a sy em of R&D institutions. India's current weakness is limited global reach. In particular, the BRICS group is looking less and less promising due to significant divergence between its members (some are in deep recession, some need oil to be expensive, while others prefer ch oil, etc). However, G20 has been increasingly relevant. Should India and reach the status of developed economies (perhaps in 20 years), they may be added to the G7 forum. In general, faster development of the world economy should help develo countries to catch up, but in a slower world economy the developed countries will preserve their lead.
India's military is ranked #4 in 2015 by Global Firepower after the US, Russia and , and followed by the UK. While this is unlikely to change by 2020, I expect Russia to drop out from the top three in 10-20 years, due to the effects of protracted financial crisis, economic stagnation, and deteriorating demographics. In contrast, both India and the UK are primed to significantly increase their military strength by 2025. With two new super-carriers, the UK will have a stronger Navy (currently, UK's Navy is considered slightly weaker than Indian). The recently-announced massive new purchase program for strike aircraft can make the UK Air Force stronger as well (it is currently judged weaker than India's, and is a lot smaller). India's initial bet on Russian fifth-gen fighters (PAK FA) has gone sour. The supersonic cruise missile Brahmos jointly developed by India and Russia isn't deployed by Russia for some reason (despite its availability) and does not have direct analogues in NATO countries, while NATO can technically develop one. This raises doubts about the operational effectiveness of this primarily-anti-ship missile.
Even today, India cannot project power away from its borders nearly as efficiently as the UK can (due to UK's bases and close defense relations with NATO).And India has no military alliences like NATO and the Five Eyes. India is likely to remain the #4 military power through 2030, but if Russia is replaced by the UK in the top 3, this can increase India's significance because the UK is a part of the already-strong NATO. It's really hard to guess the military developments by 2050, but the NATO militaries will clearly become increasingly unmanned, negating population handicaps and leveraging new technology, while other countries are likely to lag behind. The extent of this trend will be determined by specific technology developments and economic health of the countries involved.