The Centre for Air Power Studies in New Delhi hosted its annual event on 18 July to pay tribute to its Founder Director, Air Commodore Jasjit Singh, through a Memorial Lecture held at its Subroto Park premises. The Session Chair, Dr. Sanjaya Baru, and the Chief Guest, Amitabh Kant, G20 Sherpa, graced the occasion.
Dr. Baru commenced the session by retracing India’s journey as an emerging global power and the role of CAPS founder Singh. Recalling former Prime Minister I K Gujral, who had formed a small group to explore the reasons for not signing the CTBT, where Air Commodore Jasjit Singh provided valuable insights from the defence perspective. Jasjit Singh and Sanjaya Baru, accompanied by other experts like K. Subrahmanyam, embarked on international trips to convey and justify India’s nuclear strategy’s significance.
India now recognises that economic strength and well-formulated strategies are pivotal in the path to power. Much like China, whose global standing is reinforced by its prowess in geo-economics, India’s economy has made tremendous progress and holds even greater potential to become a geo-economic power.
G20 Sherpa, Amitabh Kant highlighted Air Cmdre Jasjit Singh’s contributions to India’s defence and strategic posture. Kant emphasised the interconnectedness of all elements of national power, which play a temporal-spatial role. He enumerated various categories used to gauge a nation’s position in the global power index, including superpowers, regional powers, and sub-regional players. At its core, power entails sovereignty over national interests.
Kant expressed a strong belief that the upcoming decade would belong to India, citing the country’s fifth-largest economy, substantial foreign investments, and favourable demographic trends. India’s focus lies in achieving economic growth, sustainable development, and progress. Technology and the economy act as major drivers in India’s journey toward becoming a prominent global power.
The G20 Presidency presents India with a crucial platform to pursue its Vasudev Kutumbkam goal in the face of various global crises such as economy, energy, environment, post-COVID challenges, food, and health. Events hosted by India under the G20 banner prioritise the perspectives of its people, Kant further added.
To maintain its trajectory towards sustainable growth, India must prioritize green development, green financing, and digital advancement. India’s remarkable progress in digitalization surpasses even that of developed nations like Europe. Technology development remains a key catalyst in India’s advancement in areas such as digitalization and banking facilities, Kant observed and went to say India needs to focus on certain issues, including facilitating lending procedures and supporting MSMEs with paperless and cashless lending support. This will allow new startups to flourish. In short, technology development has been the key driver of India’s progress in digital advancement, banking facilities, and others.
India’s infrastructure and capital outlay have demonstrated improvement in recent years. To bolster its defence capabilities further, India should strengthen defence partnerships with G20 countries, such as France. Plans for new carriers, aviation technologies, and aircraft signify the nation’s ambition to rise in the global hierarchy of defence capabilities.
Kant proposed that India should venture into areas like AI, Big Data, machine learning, and others, as these metrics can bolster the country’s national power. The examples of Japan and China’s decade-long transformations after World War II prove that India, too, has the potential to achieve similar growth if it tackles its challenges. With its relatively low carbon consumption and minimal carbon footprint, India can also lead as a green leader.
In conclusion, Kant urged India to strive for excellence and explore new domains, such as semiconductors, while actively engaging with startups. Sustainable and green growth should be the primary focus. The next decade holds immense promise for India, as it finds itself in its “Amrit Kaal,” where demographic, digital, and decarbonization efforts align India with the global value chain.
The future is indeed promising, and India is poised to lead the way.
Research Associate (Indo-Pacific Group), Centre for Air Power Studies