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Opinion: Is the American Era Over? Soft Power - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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India has a population of 1.2 billion people, i.e. four times that of the United States and it is likely that it will exceed the population of China in 2025. Some Indians believe that by the middle of the current century, the three major powers in the world will be the United States, China and India. However, population alone is not a sufficient indicator of influence and human resources must also be developed. So far India has lagged significantly behind China in science and economics.

India has a remarkable military force composed of one hundred nuclear warheads, 1.3 million men and has $50 billion at its disposal. In terms of soft power, it has established an effective democratic system and a huge cultural movement. Immigrants have money and a reputation and it has a film industry that rivals Hollywood. At the same time however, India remains an underdeveloped country comprising of millions of illiterate people living in poverty and one-third of the population lives in horrendous poverty. The national income of the country is $ 3.3 trillion; a third of China’s $ 8 trillion income and 20 per cent of US national income. The per capita income is $2900; half of China’s per capita income and 15 per cent of America’s.

What is more surprising is that 95 per cent of the Chinese population is educated compared to 63 per cent of Indians. Twice the amount of engineers graduate from India’s universities than they do in the US but The Economist says that only 5 of these graduates earn a suitable salary for their employment. This reality is reflected in the fact that not a single Indian university is listed in the world’s top one hundred universities. In addition to this, its technical exports amount to 5 per cent compared to China’s that amount to 30 per cent.

If we look at the major Latin American countries, we find that Brazil has the 7th largest economy despite the fact that its per capita income is still ranked 59th. Brazil has an area three times the size of India and its rate of literacy is 90 per cent of the population which is 200 million. The gross national product is $2.5 trillion which is the same as Russia while the per capita income is US $12,000, which is three times what it is in India. Brazil is also characterized by its huge amount of natural resources especially oil after discoveries in 2007. Its world military power is not important and it does not have nuclear weapons. As for its soft powers, they are carnivals and football. However, Brazil faces a huge number of problems including bureaucracy, the struggling judiciary and high rates of corruption and crime. It is ranked 72 out of 175 countries in the Transparency Index compared to China which is ranked at 80, India at 94 and Russia at 127.

Samir Atallah

Samir Atallah

Samir Atallah is a prominent Lebanese journalist, author and political analyst.

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