India: Following Our Footsteps

Can India become an economic superpower in the coming years?

India's Culture

Although India is changing at a rapid pace, traditional life is still a significant part in India's society. Before India became a democracy, the Indian government followed the caste system. The caste system was used to divide the people of India into castes based on their occupation and wealth. A major flaw with this system was it only applied to Hindus. While the Indian government doesn't use the caste system anymore, change in rural areas is much slower. The four primary castes are Brahmin, which consist of priests, Kshatriya, which consist of nobles and warriors, Vaisya, which consist of artisans and traders, and Shudra, which consist of farmers and servants. The last caste in the caste system are the Untouchables. Unlike the other castes, the Untouchables aren't considered a caste. Some of the rules of the caste system are you are born into your caste, you stay in your caste for your whole life, and you can only move up or down a caste when you are reborn.

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There is a misconception that the majority of India's population speaks Hindi. In fact, 59 percent of Indian residents speak something other than Hindi. There is no official language of India. Some of the languages that are spoken are Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, and Urdu. Some of the religions that are practiced in India are Hinduism (84% of India's population), Islam (13%), Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism.

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Some of the customs and celebrations of the Indian culture are Republic Day, which is January 26, Independence Day, which is August 15, and Gandhi's birthday, which is October 2. Diwali is the most important holiday in India which is a five-day festival known as the festival of lights. Some of the traditional clothing that are worn in India are saris, which are worn by women, and dhoti, which are worn by men. Indian cuisine is also another major part of the culture. The food is rich with curries and spices. Lamb and chicken are some common main dishes.

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The role of women in India has drastically change since India gained its independence in 1947. Women are much more involved in politics than they were in the past. Women such as Sonia Gandhi, the longest serving president of the Congress party, and Sushma Swaraj, the leader of the opposition in Lok Sabha, are good examples. They have opened up a new world of opportunities for women in India. Also, education for women has evolved in the past few years. The idea that all women are just housekeepers has proved false. Women are now receiving an education so they can join the political and social battlefield. Lastly, women are being treated the same as men. Before there was modern India, women didn't have the same rights as men did. They weren't able to become political leaders or get an education. Women have come a long way since then. They now play an influential role in the development of India.

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India's Role and Rise in the Global Economy

There has been an incredible growth of India's middle class in the past few years. There is about 50 million people who are in India's middle class which is about 5% of the population. At the current rate, India could reach 200 million people in 2020.

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India has recently caught the attention of the United States due to its emerging economy. This could strengthen the relationship between the United States and India. Until the late 1990s, the United States has ignored India. This is mainly because India didn't have as strong of as an economy. It was very weak and protected which gave it little influences in global markets. Another reason why the US-India relations aren't as strong as they could be is because when India did have a strong economy, they were in the midst of a war between Pakistan. However, the relationship between these two nations seems to be going in a positive direction due to the progress India has made. One major turning point between the US and India is when the two countries signed a civil nuclear agreement in 2008. This is because the deal helped India's nuclear isolation by permitting the conduct of civil nuclear trade with New Delhi. To conclude, while the relationship between India and United States hasn't been as remarkable, it does have a bright future.

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Some of the major industries in India are agriculture and textile industries. 25% of India's economy accounts for agriculture. Agriculture is not only a major part of India's economy, but it is also an important source of food for the population. Although agriculture is significant to the lives of many Indians, it considered inefficient, wasteful, and incapable of solving India's hunger and malnutrition problems. The textile industry, on the other hand, is one of the largest contributing sectors of India's exports, one of the largest employers, and is currently estimated at around $108 billion.

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The Globalization of India's Culture

Globalization has played an important role to the culture of India. The United States especially has influenced Indian society. We now see American traditions and customs roaming around in India. Some examples of these traditions in Indian society are there is an increase in the availability of American brands, a surge in the population of Americans, and a use of American idiom and accents. One major example of globalization in India is marriage values. Like the United States, marriages have lost their values. There has been an increased number of divorce cases. Another example is social values. In the past, Indians incorporated values of treating the guests as God and greeting elders with respect. Now a days, people have restricted themselves of social interactions. Family structure in Indian families are also changing. There has been an increased number of joint-families. Furthermore, food has been very much affected by globalization. It is evident that traditional foods are disappearing as McDonald's and Subway are taking their places. Capitalism is another example of globalization. The use of free market has surged which has benefited India's economy greatly. Socialism proved to be inefficient while capitalism has provided more competition for businesses and companies. As you can see, globalization has had a huge impact on India's culture.

While India has been globalized by the United States, the United States has been globalized by India. India has had a great impact on the American culture. For example, there are more Indian restaurants in America. Also, Indian music has spread throughout the nation. In one of Jay-Z's songs called "Beware of The Boys", there is Indian background music. As you can see, India has greatly influenced the American culture.

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Modern India vs. Traditional India: Who Will Come Out On Top?

One issue India has faced because of their political and social changes is the conflict between modern India and traditional India. Innovation has caused a threat to traditional life as citizens of India are starting to forget about the past and move into the future. One way modern India is conflicting with traditional India is the development of infrastructure. Old buildings are being torn down as new buildings are being built over them. Family-owned shops are running out of business as construction sites are taking their place. Although traditional shops are endangered, some traditions still linger in the construction of modern new buildings. The art of brick-making is exemplary. Traditional materials like mud and leaves are still being used. Also, the process of creating bricks is still man-made.

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Another way that modern India is conflicting with traditional India is simple lifestyles are disappearing. Life has become much more complicated for young adults in India. For example, there is increased traffic, construction, and fighting. Also, India is more inclusive than it was in the past. What was an easy life for most Indians has become harder, quicker, and more complex. We now see 20 year-old citizens typing on their laptops in Starbucks and drinking coffee. Life in India has evolved tremendously since they gained independence in 1947.

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In addition, democracy has conflicted with caste system. Cities like New Delhi are more tolerate of the new way while change in rural areas is much slower. Overall, the caste system has almost entirely vanished as democracy has spread throughout the nation. Since India has become a democracy, they have passed laws guaranteeing equal rights to all castes no matter how high or low you are. Because of these changes, Untouchables are allowed to vote and take on positions such as the Prime Minister. Moreover, India has established quotas to require certain amount of Untouchables in universities and jobs. As you can see, political and economic changes have conflicted with the Indian traditions and customs.

Can India Finally Reach Superpowerdom?

Many people are optimistic that India can become an economic superpower in the distant future. Although India's growth has been tremendous, there are many reasons why they will not reach this status. One reason is there is an increasing gap between the rich and the poor. This is not good because the rich are become richer and the poor are become poorer, so there will be a lot of inequality. Also, the economy will be very unbalanced. Another reason is the conflict between them and Pakistan. If India wants to fulfill its dream of becoming a truly global power, then they must immediately solve this dilemma over the Kashmir region. This is because they will not be able to focus on improving their economy if they are consistently sending the military to fight in Kashmir. A final reason is India is lacking a strong police force. According to a report on the Times of India, there is one policeman for every 200 Indians. This is not impressive and has caused India to become more vulnerable. As you can see, India doesn't look like it will become an economic superpower. Even if India does reach superpowerdom, it isn't necessary. Ramachandra Guha, the author of "India after Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy", says that India should focus on more important things such as becoming a more inclusive and efficient society, rebuilding broken institutions, and engaging in the serious problem of state corruption. At the end of the day, India won't surpass the United States and become an economic superpower.

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