The coming to power of nationalist Narendra Modi is implying an increasing presence of India in the forefront of international politics. The biggest democracy of the world –as per number of voters– wants to be considered not only as a huge market or a regional
nuclear power, but also as an important technological partner and a key political leader.
It is not surprising that the international tour that has taken Modi to the U.S. –after hosting Chinese President Xi Jingping– has coincided with the announcement that India has placed a satellite in the Mars orbit for barely euros 54 million, a trifling figure
in terms of space research. This shows what India is able to do with its human capital. And if it is able to place a satellite in Mars, it could send its nuclear warheads anywhere on the planet.
It is significant that this other Asian giant’s main investment item is indeed knowledge. It is the world’s largest exporter of computer science intelligence and one of the main suppliers of Silicon Valley. Modi also wants to create 100 intelligent cities in
the next years, and has the help from China to build a giant high-speed network to connect those cities with hundreds of technological parks, which will make the country have one foot in the global cutting edge.
But the other foot is on a fragile territory. The shining face of the coin has a dark side of extreme inequality; the prime minister won the elections promising “toilets before temples” in a country where 54% of its 1.2 billion inhabitants do not have a bathroom.
India harbours some of the largest pockets of misery in the world, with millions of illiterate and poverty-stricken citizens.
Modi wants his country to be a great power and to act like one. It remains to be seen how the power grows in the inside and what type of power it will project to the outside.
The Spanish version of this article can be read at:
India at the Forefront