Role of India in the Modern World

Instructor: Erin Carroll

Erin has taught English and History. She has a bachelor's degree in History, and a master's degree in International Relations

In this lesson we will look at India's place in the modern world. India is a country on the rise economically, but must tackle important issues like climate change and navigate complicated strategic partnerships in order to establish its place as a power in the world.

India on the Rise

When you think of India you might think of the ancient Indus Valley civilizations and Hinduism, but you also may think about the massive IT industry and a fast growing economy. If we look at India's place in the modern world, we see a major South Asian power on the rise dealing with some major issues.

The Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal

India has the second largest population in the world with over 1.2 billion people. Although many of its people are educated professionals, about 21% of India's people live below the poverty line. This is a time of great optimism in India. Most Indians rate their Prime Minister Narendra Modi very highly, and about 68% of Indians believe that India plays a more significant role in the world today than it did ten years ago. However, people in the U.S. and Europe don't see India as quite the power player on the world stage that Indians do. India has asked for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, but the UN decided to put off its decision and address the matter later.

As India becomes more of a world power, it must tackle some important human rights issues. Shocking cases of sexual assault, rape, and murders of women are common in India. Along with gender violence, there are still many barriers to women succeeding in Indian society. Although many more women are becoming educated, many poor girls are forced into marriage at an early age. The failure to protect women's rights is a major stain on India's reputation.


India has a two trillion dollar economy; one of the biggest in the world. It is also one of the BRICS . The BRICS are a group of countries with the biggest economic growth potential. The countries are Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. India is also a member of many international financial institutions like the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

Mumbai Night Skyline

Just a little less than half of the people work in agriculture, but services like Information Technology(IT) are its biggest source of growth. Because of India's large educated and English-speaking population, they have been able to attract IT business to the country. Still, critics of globalization have pointed out that India's poor have been exploited and international corporations have taken advantage by paying them slave wages.

India and Climate Change

The problem of climate change is a major concern for all countries, but especially India. In the push to be build a stronger, more industrialized economy, India now produces about 4.5% of the world's greenhouse gasses. By some measures, air pollution might be worse for the average Indian than the average Chinese person, and plays a part in half a million deaths each year. Approximately 47% of Indians are would be willing to see the economy slow down if it would decrease air pollution. With a massive population, dwindling natural resources could spell disaster for India.

Paris Climate Change Conference
Paris Climate Change Conference

Most Indians see climate change as a massive problem for India, and it has become a global example for the fight against climate change. India just ratified the Paris Climate Change Agreement, the biggest piece of international climate change policy ever created. India has pledged to produce 40% of its electricity with non-fossil fuel energy by the year 2030.

However, as Indians become more prosperous, they want the same comforts as any of us like cars and air conditioning, and those things do a lot of damage to the environment as it is. If India's massive population starts using cars and air conditioning the same amount as we do in the U.S. the effect could be catastrophic. So India's commitment to cutting fossil fuel use is important, and a good example to other countries to start taking climate change seriously.

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