Sunday, September 20, 2009

The New Superpower

Anyone taking bets?

The old powers are dying a slow, agonizing, painfully pathetic death. England, France, Germany, Russia, and even the US... they've fallen, we've fallen. We've become incompetent in the comfort we were born to be used to. Like Rome, the ineffectual rule the country. The sun is setting in the West, casting small men's shadows. Now light rises in the East, out of Third World waters.

China is, merely in terms of sheer population, HUGE. They own most of America's debt, and therefore, in many ways, own America. With a growing economy of coal, outsourcing factories, sweatshop labor, and a highly controlled society - from what information gets in to what information gets out - the country is one of the fastest growing markets in the world.

They make our clothes, our computers, our television sets, and even our shoes. Their manufacturing-based economy of outsourced labor is reminiscent of the United States circa 1900 that led to its international domination throughout the century. And the sheer growth that has happened in the last ten years shows that they're not stopping there; from science and technology (mostly software, energy, and bio-research) to its cultural image, which was especially obvious after recently hosting the 2008 Olympic games, winning a total of 51 gold medals! More than any other country.

However, with all its achievements, China is still lacking in entrepreneurial spirit due to cultural, and government restraints on individualism. Information is tightly controlled. The society is force-fed propaganda, and behind a thick wall of political smiles the PRC keeps all secrets to themselves. Also, human rights abuses from their occupation of Tibet to their population control policies that advocate widespread infanticide, mire the country in controversy.

But even so, the sheer economic domination exhibited by China coupled with its large population and military neutrality, has shown it poised to overtake the US as the chief power in the world.

Then, on the other hand, we have... India, the largest democracy on the planet (albeit a crooked, corrupt one.) They've got our outsourced call centers, literally running the country from behind a wall of long-distance cell-towers and satellites. They've got their own Bollywood that rivals the popularity of Western film markets. Their slew of socio-cultural achievements from Ghandi's ahimsa to the Vedas to the Taj Mahal, highlight a rich cultural history that can be seen in the stunning growth of their cities, as slums become the new breeding grounds for an international zeitgeist of globalization.

But India has a lot of problems too. Cities like Mumbai, Delhi, and Calcutta have high rates of poverty, corruption, pollution, disease, illiteracy, malnutrition, all packed together in the slums. The country's most famous river, the Ganges, is filthy, and much of the rural area in India is devoid of the progress being made in the country, which is heavily concentrated in the cities (and even then not equally distributed).

Still, the pluralistic, multilingual, multiethnic, multireligious nature of India is one of its greatest strengths. The country is just goddamn diverse, and shows capitalistic spirit. Businesses in cities like Bangalore, or Hyderabad, highlight this entrepreneurial growth, with IT start-ups, and even established corporations like Microsoft or HP setting up shop.

All of this actually was inspired by a book I recently finished, The White Tiger, by Aravind Adiga. It chronicles the story of a character named Balram Halwai, as he writes a series of letters to visiting Chinese premier, Wen Jiabao. The book really shows the changing international scene, from West to East, from White to Yellow & Brown. The whole book reeks of the impending shift coming to world power dynamics.

And also, it's just interesting as all hell. Like Slumdog Millionaire, only crazier, nastier, and much, much better. Aravind Adiga is definitely a new literary voice to watch for in the coming years.

Along with the new world superpower.

2 footnotes:

Manju said...

that sounds like an interesting read, i'm gonna try to get my hands on that book.
i think the multiethnic, multireligious nature of India is one of its greatest weaknesses as well. especially the hindu/muslim divide. honestly, i think it's more of a weakness than a strength. so far, at least.

thank you so much for the running tips btw :)

Zek J Evets said...

@manju: you're welcome!

i think the hindu/muslim divide can be a weakness, but the general multi-nature of india is something good, because the country has so many different types of people to draw upon. they have more than one way of doing things, and that can be a blessing when you think about it.