Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to France in April 2015 – his first visit to a European country – highlighted New Delhi’s burgeoning ties with Paris, underlined India’s attempts to diversify its defense purchases, and re-emphasized the congruence that has existed between the two countries during most of the Cold War. France has gradually emerged as a formidable technology supplier to India in all three strategic realms: defense, space, and nuclear energy.
Science & Technology
India’s unemployment rate currently sits at 9 percent. Yet, one in three citizens with at least a bachelor’s degree is out of work. Its working age population,is projected to rise from over 750 million today to almost a billion by 2020. At the same time, agricultural employment is in decline, accounting for less than 50 percent of total employment for the first time in Indian history. These market pressures are pushing the labor force towards higher skilled occupations. Yet, even young, college-educated,Indians often lack the requisite skills to obtain these jobs.
Since 1991, when the Maharashtra Chief Minister launched a plan to transform Bombay into a “world class city” modeled on Singapore, the face of the city of Bombay (now Mumbai) has witnessed dramatic changes.
India is facing major challenges in higher education. In 2007, Prime Minister Singh noted that in almost half of India’s districts, higher education enrollments were “abysmally low” and that two-thirds of Indian universities and 90 percent of Indian colleges were rated as below average on quality parameters.
A week ago, cyclone Phailin raged through Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. With wind speeds up to 200 km/h ripping through the countryside, it’s no surprise that electricity transmission infrastructure in coastal areas took a significant hit. Certain districts, particularly in Odisha, are still suffering from major electricity shortages after thousands of distribution poles and hundreds of kilometres of wiring were knocked out of service.
Despite its best attempts and some very creative thinking, the Indian government’s efforts to chart an independent course in cyberspace have met with consistent failures and frustrations. Its Cybersecurity Policy, published last month, is a case in point. Released amidst the growing controversy over revelations regarding the American electronic eavesdropping program, this policy document is the culmination of deliberations that the Indian security establishment has been carrying out with various stakeholders for the past three years.
The Indian state faces a serious need to overhaul its mechanisms of accountability. According to a Pew Research Poll conducted in 2010, 98 percent of Indian citizens classify government corruption as a “very big” or a “moderately big” problem facing the country. There is good reason for citizens to be concerned. Every year, the government loses countless crores of rupees to bribery and embezzlement. Related to the lost money are the lost man-hours. Worker absenteeism, defined as the practice of staying away from work without good reason, is another huge problem.
Medical devices form a $200 billion global industry, which develops and manufactures essential healthcare equipment ranging in complexity from simple devices like thermometers and stethoscopes to complex devices like pacemakers, ultrasound machines and surgical robots. India’s medical devices market was worth $3 billion in 2011 and grew at roughly 15 percent annually in that year. It is expected to grow at a 16 percent compounded annual clip during the 2010-2015 period, far better than the 2-3 percent growth expected in this sector in the U.S. and Europe.
With the emergence of India on the global scene as a player parlayed by the information technology revolution, its aspirations have received a new boost. Aside from being an economic power, it now aspires to be a knowledge power; a center of innovation and creative ideas. However, it is not on track to do so. While India has the resources to make this happen, the absence of fundamental institutional change makes reaching this goal very unlikely.
Despite some recent stumbles, most economic and demographic metrics favor India’s growth for several more years. India’s economic expansion is typical; it comes from its current low levels of physical, technological, and human capital deployed and its absorptive power for additional such capital. Although the Indian economy is fairly broad based, it does suffer from some imbalances: the export sector is small, manufacturing is underdeveloped, and there is little high technology industry.