that he expected India to be an information superpower by 2020. A lot
of Indians have been using the word "superpower" in their expectation
of their country reaching that status, in the very least, in their
As Indians, we lack perspective about most things Indian, not only
because 70% of our population is below the age of 33 but because a
very small percentage of us have travelled abroad or extensively
enough to know where we really stand in comparison to other countries.
Is it in any way essential that we become a superpower? Are there any
measurable benefits to being such a power? Naturally, we should look
at the lone superpower in the world today, the USA, for some pointers,
and the gap is not something to be scoffed at. The USA is where it is
because of years of investment in science and technology, incentives
for innovation, and relentless application of the rule of law.
Recently, they have even made advances in freedom of speech and
reducing the impact of racism.
India is where it is because of our collective subscription to
socialist notions, our lack of integrity in implementing any policy we
put in place, and our almost militant aversion to innovation, not to
mention the rule of law being hijacked by a political structure that
breeds nothing but degradation of every principle we should be
standing by as a democracy.
In other words, India's democracy has never been on track, but we're
indifferent enough to let it have its survival. We have no problem
with democracy, simply because it can put up with all our ills and
stupid notions. Any other form of government or governance would
involve effort but this dummy democracy works for us because it gives
the average Indian the least amount of work to do, the most amount of
benefits, and the greatest rights to remain mediocre.
In the conceivable future, India is not going to do much more than
make feeble attempts at what the USA has achieved years before, will
not innovate, will not encourage leapfrogging technologies, and will
not take decisions capable of reshaping India's rise in the coming
century. We will rise, but not when compared to other countries that
will also rise during this period that had similar starting points as
The reasons are not that hard to arrive at. We have the dumbest, most
crooked, shadiest and self centred politicians, because WE elected
them. But then, let's look at who is doing the electing. The average
Indian versus the Average citizen of the USA. The average Indian
thinks nothing of paying a bribe to get something done. The
counterpart in the USA would raise hell if such a demand was made.
The average Indian has no problem putting up with filth, dirty smells,
and absolutely dirty surroundings. We just get used to it. People of
the USA have by and large set higher public hygiene standards for
themselves. The average Indian doesn't think anything of breaking
rules, whether it is in traffic or in stealing water using a suction
pump to take water illegally from the public distribution system. You
would never hear of any of this from the average person in the USA.
No wonder we have lousy government, and we participate in the blame
game rather willingly!
Stay in a hotel in India, in which foreigners, especially those with
white skin are staying as well. What are the chances that Indians get
the same level of attention and service as the foreigners? Zero. As
long as we volunteer for the lower level of service, we will continue
to be the lower people.
It's hard to look at ourselves and think, "We're inferior", but all
measurable indicators point to precisely that. India is an inferior
country compared to the developed world, and not much better than most
in the developing world. In fact, we rank 134 in the UN development
index. Considering there aren't a billion countries, and indeed only
232, this is not by any means a place to be for a "Superpower" to be,
The baggage of our "great culture" weighs down heavily upon us. We
also assume that other countries have no culture and we have some kind
of bragging rights about what a great culture we have. Oh, yes, when
a woman is molested on the streets of Patna, in plain view of video
cameras and policemen watching, we definitely seem to be showcasing
our great culture.
Our slave mentality constantly dictates how low we should treat our
own country. Look at our software industry, that thrived when the USA
was booming. Not very many of our software companies that earned
enormous profits really took it upon themselves to play a role that
would bring the benefits of the information revolution to the average
Indian. The USA has a recession, India begins to lose jobs and
despair. Why does it have to be this way, instead of using our
incredible ancient wisdom and being able to predict such collapses and
It isn't how much money is in the kitty that can come to define a
"superpower". It will take eons before the standard of life of the
average Indian can come anywhere close to somebody living in the USA.
Enough of comparisons. Now, let's take the absolute view.
Our railway stations do have dust bins, but most Indians prefer to
throw their garbage on the tracks. Go to a wedding and watch our
guests leave the buffet area looking like a garbage dump. It shows in
the attitude that we don't want to live in clean surroundings. We
think nothing of trashing the country for others.
Our law enforcement mechanism cannot enforce any law, because our
police force is incredibly corrupt. So, we don't care for law
enforcement, for we have set this standard for ourselves that the law
exists only to be broken. What is really unfair is that law abiding
citizenry are also endangered because of this callous attitude and
there is no breaking this vicious cycle. We just don't care!
We have the roof of an international airport leaking in the rain,
flooding an entire section, and the Chief Operating Officer is happy
enough to say no flights and operations were affected. In other
words, we should have had anacondas and pythons coming through the
roof and eating passengers and pilots before we would really care
about the hole!
We're losers. India is a fourth world country caught in a dream of
making it to the third world. We think that is the first world,
because we know no better and we care even less. The dream is not
making us work hard, with our heads held high. It is giving us the
illusion that with very little effort, we will somehow make it there,
amongst the best nations in the world. That in itself is a joke worth
laughing ten times over. We have nothing, absolutely nothing to be
Please spare us this superpower rhetoric, Mr. Kalam. We'd be happy to
just live without these horrible pressures of life in India. The rest
of us, I would beg, stop using this word like it is our birthright of
some sort. It is a needless aspiration, and one that is bound to be a
joke sooner or later, more likely sooner, and it's not a funny one
Besides, it is completely unnecessary, especially if it might come
with added responsibilities. Oh, no! We don't want any of that now,