Emerging India and National Values

Almost every day one comes across news in print and electronic media highlighting the strength of the Indian economy. The country’s political leaders spare no efforts in enumerating the country’s achievements and the rate at which its economy is growing. Dreams are being sold to Indian citizens wherein the country is projected as a force to reckon with in the near future and with aspirations to play an ascendant role in the international arena. ‘India is on the cusp of its growth trajectory’; ‘21st century is going to be the century of India’; ‘India is poised to reclaim its past glory’; ‘India is the fourth largest economy in the world’; ‘India will soon add $1 trillion to its GDP to reach the magic figure of $5 trillion’; ‘India will be the third largest global economy by the year 2047’ are some of the expressions one comes across in the electronic and print media. The politicians don’t tire of projecting India as an emerging major global power.

Indian Economy – Some Indicators

There is some truth and justification in what is being said. India is on a firm growth path due to a stable government, a large English-speaking, educated and young population, strong technological base, robust and growing industrial sector, rising foreign exchange reserves and vibrant high-value capital markets that are attracting foreign investments. These are major indicators of India’s growth story. The country’s GDP is likely to grow between 6.5 and 6.8% in the next year. A large part of this growth comes from strong domestic demand. The MSME sector is coming out of the shadows of the pandemic and is likely to ensure sustained economic activity. The country boasts of 107 unicorns and their numbers are growing fast. Another encouraging measure is that the private sector investment has also picked up and has recently shown an annual growth of 7.8%. A contributing factor has been strong capital investment by the government. The manufacturing and construction sectors have also shown year-on-year growth of 4.7% and 7.9% respectively. The services sector, with an annual growth rate of 10.3%, has provided the biggest boost to the Indian economy. However, the annual growth in the agriculture sector has slowed down marginally to 3.5%. With the global economy turning buoyant economists are optimistic about India’s development-story. The economy of the country has emerged relatively unscathed from the COVID-pandemic whereas most of the rich countries are still struggling to cope with the damages caused by it.

The purchasing power of the middle class and the rich has recently witnessed a phenomenal growth. Driven by penchant of the consumers to buy, prominent luxury brands, that were previously the preserve of the rich, are vying with each other to enter the Indian market. The majority also have Indian brand ambassadors and are even ‘Indianising’ their products. That signifies Indian consumer’s appetite to buy luxury goods. India’s market for luxury items has grown from $2.5 billion in 2021 to $8.5 billion in 2023 and is projected to reach $85 billion by the year 2030. More and more people are showing their eagerness to buy luxury-goods. Rising affluent demography has demonstrated its spending-power and its willingness to follow global trends. By 2027, the number of millionaires in India is likely to grow by 69%. Simultaneously, the number of India’s ultra-high net-worth individuals, those with a net-worth of $30 million or more, is likely to reach 19,000 by the same year. An interesting feature of the Indian economy is that the ‘millennials’ and ‘Gen-Z’ have also shown their keenness to buy luxury goods. Credit card spends have reached $17.8 billion. India is home to more than 600 million people aged between 18 and 35, with 65% under the age of 35. India’s demographic dividend is expected to peak in another 7 years. All these factors drive the optimism associated with the Indian economy.

Some Causes for Concern

 India’s contribution to global economy was 33% at the beginning of the 2nd millennium when the invasions started from the northwest. Further, when the British arrived, India was contributing 24% to global growth. A study carried out in 1835 indicated that the proportion of Indians who could read, write and maintain simple accounts was much higher than that of European population at that time. However, despite being economically strong and having a well-educated populace the foreigners were able to vanquish India. One of the main reasons for India’s subjugation was that Indians lacked national cohesion and character and were not heedful about their national identity. Regionalism, provincialism and localism took precedence over national identity. The underlying cause was that over a period of time, the country paid no attention to national values. The concept of loyalty to the country was conspicuous by its absence. The society was riven with divisions and social justice was an alien idea. The foreigners were able to exploit these weaknesses and India was set back by a millennium. No wonder that in 1947, when the British left, India’s contribution to the global economy was just 1%.

Current National Discourse. The growing economic strength of the country has given countrymen reason to be optimistic and the general mood is upbeat. The media, political leaders, bureaucrats and eminent citizens are all engaged in highlighting the performance of the national economy, achievements in science and technology, growing industrial strength and military might. While all these factors contribute to national power, there are some causes for concern. Indian politics is riven with corruption, there are fault-lines in society based on ethnicity and caste; the country is fast being polarised on communal lines; and economic disparities are widening with the rich getting richer and the poor being left out of the development process. Crony capitalism has been firmly entrenched. Politicians are holding sway over the executive and judiciary also seems to be succumbing to pressures. The independence of the media has been severely compromised. India is likely to fritter away its projected demographic dividend because of faulty education policies wherein a large percentage of students graduating from its universities are unemployable. A question that begs an answer is: Despite these impediments and afflictions is the future of country secure just because of its economic strength?

Unfortunately, today, the national identity and its value-system do not figure anywhere in the national discourse. These concepts do not figure in the priorities of national leaders. There is a need for a strong democratic system where honesty and integrity are the mainstays. Educated intellectuals have withdrawn from the arenas of religion and politics and are passive spectators to the ills afflicting the country. Dreams of developing a pluralistic and inclusive society have fallen by the wayside. Developing a strong civic sense does not seem to be a priority for anyone. There is no attention being paid to social justice, human rights or the rule of law.  Equity, that symbolises fairness, impartiality, justice and provision of equal access to resources and opportunities, has receded into the background. The marginalised are becoming more and more vulnerable. The concepts of patriotism and national unity have been hijacked by a section of society and the latter has arrogated to itself the authority to judge loyalty of people based on their own prejudiced and flawed parameters. The ruling class, both politicians and bureaucrats, have stopped paying attention to good governance. There is a crying need to reshape the national discourse and insist that countrymen hold the government of the day accountable.

National values cannot be imbibed overnight. These have to be deliberately cultivated and nurtured. A conscious effort is required to be undertaken by society, in family-circles, in schools, colleges, universities and at work-places. Further, it has to be evident in the actions and deeds of national leaders; both at political level and in the communities, and also among the citizens of the country. Maintaining a strong connection with national roots is an imperative that cannot be ignored. There is a need to define and, thereafter, embrace national identity, which encompasses the qualities, characteristics, beliefs, and attributes that make the country unique. A spirit of citizenship, patriotism and a sense of pride and belonging to the nation has to be kindled that is based on its cultural values and traditions. All these have the potential to influence societal interactions and ethos as people bond over a shared national identity. People need to align with the values and principles that resonate with the vision of national identity. These values could serve as the foundation of the nation’s identity and shape its stance. Civil society must engage to strengthen the connection of citizens with the nation. Most importantly, there has to be an awareness about the importance of national values and a will to inculcate these. Nurturing cultural roots and celebrating national identity allows citizens to appreciate diversity, embrace national identity and contribute to the process of nation building in their own unique ways. Somehow, that concept is absent from the current national discourse and not much has been done in the past 75 years in this direction. In the absence of national values the country, despite its vibrant economy, is vulnerable to forces that are inimical to its progress.


India has aspirations to emerge as a major player in the comity of nations. It is well poised on the road to progress due to its economy, industrial strength and military capabilities. However, it is imperative for the country to pay attention to its national values because these directly shape the national character. The latter has a bearing on its international relations too. Historically, since the advent of the 2nd millennium, India has ignored nurturing national values. Consequently, it has suffered humiliations against foreign invaders and also had to undergo indignities of slavery. The country has not yet learnt a lesson and the current national discourse does not assert the importance of national values. That is detrimental to the concept of nation building. A deliberate and conscientious effort is needed to instil among the citizens the importance of national values. As things stand today, there are no signs that Indian leadership and civil society are serious about nurturing them.  Countries that don’t learn from history are condemned to repeat their mistakes. India can ignore nurturing national values to its own peril.

17 thoughts on “Emerging India and National Values”
  1. The issue raised- Enhancing National Values rarequires to be addressed seriously by not only the Leaders but also by each and every one of us …
    A thought provoking article !

  2. A very thought provoking, well intentioned and timely article. Hope it stirs the conscience of our politicians and bureaucrats.

  3. Very thought provoking article. You have touched the sore spot of of We the Indians. Somewhere along the lines we have forgotten about the importance of Character and actually being INDIAN.
    This job of putting things right must
    must start at macro level.

  4. The author needs to be congratulated for penning such a thoughtful article. It has been very correctly identified that pride for national identity coupled with appreciation for plurality, diversity and open discussion will take this country to its cherished destination backed by economic upsurge and technological advancement

    1. Thanks Dr Achintya for your kind words. We, in academia, have a crucial role to play.

      Nice to hear from you. Where are you? Regards

  5. A fortnight balanced analysis of tndian socio-political scenario. A holistic perspective has been presented. More could be said on strident calls for religious violence by radical groups. Democracy to a large extent has evolved on narrow sectarian considerations.

  6. Very well written article. In the section “some causes for concern” can be added debt/loan driven growth is also a cause of concern because in last decade amount of new debt added is more than last 65 years of debt combined and nobody talks about it anywhere to keep it hidden. Also rise of undeserving “Yes” men who have made their voice aligned to people in power is also a cause of concern specially in academic circles who are made heads, VCs in universities/institutions.

  7. Extremely objective analysis of today’s situation prevailing in the Country. While at the start of second millennium we were in the forefront with so many diverse , small & large
    kingdoms with different languages,
    what probably bound us was a
    common Religious identity & culture.A Nation was created by Our last British masters( one good deed) for their own Self interest.Fine.Democracy has it’s own perils but has made us Stronger.We are now sure footed AS INDIAN’S with more & more people enjoying the benefits of being brought
    Upwards.They know the Process & others will follow .
    I believe today’s Politics will Change for better.Look at the recent Election results . It is based on understanding & aspirations for Growth .
    We surely will be at a position close to the start of Second Millennium in the Comity of Nation’s .

  8. A very analytical and thought provoking article which highlights the multiple facets influencing India’s journey as a rising and aspirational country with strong leadership which believes in the aspects highlighted by Brig Grewal in his article.

    Nicely put across 👏

  9. So true and very nicely penned article.Our politicians are more concerned about getting votes and staying in power and communal polarisation is the only way known to them to achieve their goals .

  10. A well thought provoking idea initiated, wish our concern lobby to put into action can take some lesson keeping their vote policy aside.
    It is not biased nor political but facts has been projected

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