It may be the world’s fifth major economy and the fourth most powerful country militarily, but in the overall global power index, India does not figure in the first 10 (ten) countries of the world in 2024 if the rankings as compiled by a US publication are taken into account.
According to “US News and World Report,” India is 12th in the global rankings, behind Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Japan, France, South Korea, the United Kingdom, Germany, Russia, China, and the United States.
Many may find this ranking of India behind even the UAE and Saudi Arabia or, for that matter, Japan behind South Korea in power terms in the Indo-Pacific a little surprising. However, it is noteworthy that the US News and World Report recognizes as many as six most powerful countries in Asia, sans India.
Giving 46.3 out of 100 to India, the ranking details do suggest India’s great potential in information technology services, business outsourcing services and software workers. But the country gets maximum points in the “heritage” and “cultural influence” segments.
It is said that “India is known for its historical architectural treasures, including the Taj Mahal, Humayun’s tomb, the Sun Temple at Konarak, and other vast temple complexes. But modern India has also made its fair share of cultural contributions.
“The film industry based in Mumbai, nicknamed Bollywood, makes more feature-length films than any other nation in the world. The country has had three Booker Prize-winning authors since 1980, including Salman Rushdie, and produced world-famous virtuosos, Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan”.
India’s huge population and its low per capita income appears to have adversely affected India’s overall ranking. “ India has a fast-growing, diverse economy with a large, skilled workforce. But because of its population, it’s also one of the poorest countries in the world based on income and gross national product per capita”.
It may be noted that the power ranking by the US News and World Report is based upon what is said to be an ‘equally weighted average of scores’ from five particular attributes that denote a country’s power: “A leader,” “Economic influence,” “Political influence,” “Strong international alliances,” and “ A strong military.”
The ranking model was devised by BAV Group, a unit of global marketing communications company WPP, and researchers led by Professor David Reibstein from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, all in association with US News & World Report.
Incidentally, Australia’s Lowly Institute’s last (and latest) Asia’s Power Index, 2023, has shown India ranking 4 out of 26 for comprehensive power, with an overall score of 36.3 out of 100. India was behind Japan, China, and the United States as an Indo-Pacific nation.
But this ranking showed India’s overall score declining every year since 2018. In 2022, India lost 1.4 points compared to 2021, it said.
According to this survey, India performs best in “the future resources measure,” placing third behind only the United States and China. By contrast, India’s lowest-ranked measure is “economic relationships,” a result of the country sitting outside the regional economic integration agenda.
In fact, India’s better scores in “diplomatic influence” were not enough to compensate for the losses on its refusal to join economic groupings in the region.
In 2023, India had the greatest gains in cultural influence (+2.5). However, it lost the most points in resilience (−4.9). Elsewhere, it improved in diplomatic influence (+2.2) while trending down in economic relationships (−3.2), defense networks (−2.6), economic capability (−2.2), future resources (−1.0), and military capability (−0.7).
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The “Power Index” highlighted India’s widening “power gap” over the last five years. The power gap was defined as a country’s actual power as compared to its potential given its available resources. This analysis revealed India to be an underachiever, performing less well than would be expected based on its size and available resources.
However, the analysis pointed to India’s great potential. “ Assessing India’s likely future influence in Asia, then, is challenging. Its sheer size means the country is almost certainly destined to be a major power behind only the United States and China. Although New Delhi is outside the US alliance network, its interests in balancing China overlap with those of Washington, including through the Quad partnership with Australia and Japan”, it said.
Incidentally, there has also been another project that has measured the power of the leading countries of the world, focussing, though, on military strength. According to Global Firepower, a data website specializing in global defense information, India happens to be the world’s fourth most powerful military leader behind China, Russia, and the United States.
Here, India is followed by South Korea, the United Kingdom, Japan, Turkey, Pakistan, and Italy in the group of 10 strongest militaries. Significantly, France, which last year occupied the 9th position, is out of the group of the first 10. It occupies the 11th position.
Turkey is the new addition in the first 10. South Korea has jumped to the 5th position from the 6th, interchanging the palace with the UK. Pakistan has come down to the 9th position from the 7th it had last year.
These nations are said to have a strong military heritage and are continuously enhancing their military might, positioning themselves as strong contenders for the title of the most powerful army in the world.
In fact, Global Firepower’s Military Strength Rankings 2024 evaluates 145 countries, considering over 60 individual factors like troop numbers, military equipment, financial stability, geographic location, and available resources.
It takes into account the potential war-making capability across land, sea, and air fought by conventional means. These elements contribute to a PowerIndex score, with lower scores indicating stronger military capabilities.
If all the aforesaid three power indicators are taken into account, then five important points emerge.
One, the United States remains the world’s foremost power in every sense of the term.
Two, China may be rising very high, but it seems unlikely in the foreseeable future that it will be able to close the gap with the United States or be as dominant as the United States once was.
Third, despite all the Western efforts and attempts, Russia plays a significant role in global geopolitics, leveraging its vast natural resources, scientific and technological prowess, and military capabilities.
Fourth, India is recognized as having great potential to become a global player. However, as of now, it is an under-performer, contributing unevenly to the global power edifice.
Fifth, if any Asian power is really rising comprehensively apart from China, it is South Korea.
- Author and veteran journalist Prakash Nanda is Chairman of the Editorial Board – EurAsian Times and has commented on politics, foreign policy, and strategic affairs for nearly three decades. A former National Fellow of the Indian Council for Historical Research and recipient of the Seoul Peace Prize Scholarship, he is also a Distinguished Fellow at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.
- CONTACT: prakash.nanda (at) hotmail.com
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