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April 01, 2023



The most recent forward-looking development in India is that it has surpassed China as the most populous country in the world.  Not only is India now the most populous of the largest countries, but it also has a younger population with a median age of 28 years as compared to that of China where the median age is some 10 years older.  Moreover, China has ranked first in the world with the highest average age record of 12% of the population being over 65.  It is the first change at the top of the global population rankings in centuries.  Therefore, China has become an aging society largely due to the historic practice of one child per family that is hard to overcome and will ultimately impact its economy.  Accordingly, the evolving “tiger” economy in India with depth in the work force has propelled Prime Minister Modi onto the world stage. 


Recently, The Economist reported India’s Economy, A Global Bright Spot?  The IMF expects India to be the fastest-growing big economy in the world in 2023, accounting for 15% of global growth.  The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has announced investments in much needed infrastructure that it believes will propel the country into “Amrit Kaal,” an auspicious period that heralds prosperity.  A survey by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy indicates most ordinary Indians do not believe that forecast and are expressing a “show me” attitude which is not surprising in that densely populated neighborhood.

The New York Times recently published an article entitled The New India: Expanding Influence Abroad, Straining Democracy at Home.  In a recent summit meeting with Vladimir Putin Modi chose the moment to address Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with the following message – “Democracy, diplomacy and dialogue—not war—is the answer,” he told Putin as the cameras rolled, before declaring that the two would speak more about how to bring peace in Ukraine.  I recall when I first visited Delhi, India in the late sixties. The primitive infrastructure was plastered with hammer and cycle signs as the Russians were trying to exert their influence.  Putin does not appear to be smiling as the former pupil has become the teacher to the ruthless Russian.  Moreover, when I established an oil venture in the Russian Urals many years later, I realized what a joke the communist propaganda in India had been.

On the flip side of the Ukraine conflict is the United States as Modi, President Biden and Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada were having a “love-in” last June at the Group of 7 meeting in Germany as captured below by Kenny Holston for The New York Times.

Meanwhile, back home in India, Modi’s government has accelerated a crackdown on Muslims and Christians that tends to run counter to some democratic views of the rights of man. Modi has made it clear that his focus is directly on the overwhelming Hindu population under the roof of the BJP party at the expense of some 200 million Muslims in the country.  Dissent is often expressed by direct attacks on Muslim properties as evidenced by those adjacent to a mosque as shown below.

Clearly, India’s economic position is readily apparent to all as it just passed Britain, its onetime master, as the fifth-largest economy.  Therefore, India is a rising economic force that their leaders see  as empowering them to ignore freedom of expression and human rights back home outside the ranks of the BJP.  However, a strong western alliance with India is viewed by most to be preferable to the clear objectives and behavior of China as it seems to be dressing up for a global military conflict.

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