It is very interesting to conjecture India’s position during the 21st century. We assume that India must occupy an important place in the world in the 21st century. The picture that we visualise in the opening of the 21st century is not of an unmixed blessing, but a mixed fabric of black and white. However, we peer into the future and look ahead of us.
India is reeling under the tremendous pressure of the population explosion. The population of India has mounted up to 1.30 billion (130 crores). If it keeps on increasing at the present 2.5% rate of growth, the country will face a serious problem to provide food and accommodation to this increasing mass of people. Instead of becoming a national asset, such volume of the population would become a national liability. More children do not mean more future-workers, but more mouths to feed and more unemployment.
Yet we expect a great improvement in the condition of our people. The shape of towns and villages will change beyond recognition. Towns will shoot into the villages and the villages will gradually lose its own traditional character. There will be greater ease in communication too. Space and time will be shortened with telephones and cellphones, Internet arrangements will bring the world at our home and the world would be reduced to a global village. Yet, for spiritual craving, the world would probably turn to India where still lingers spiritualism.
Communal harmony is another point. We hope that people will feel the danger of communal disharmony and try to maintain a balance in a multireligious state of India. They will refuse to be pawns on the chess-board of politics. But, I am afraid, the reservation policy for the scheduled and backward classes will continue to spread discontent among the people. The smouldering resentment of the economically backward classes irrespective of castes may burst into a revolt. Democracy will be meaningless to the majority of people below the poverty line. But India will emerge as a super-military power in the 21st century. India and Pakistan will run a race of experimenting with nuclear weapons and long-range guided missiles. War-tension between India and Pakistan may, unfortunately, go on increasing but the relation between India and Bangladesh is expected to remain rather peaceful.
During the 21st century, India will make a great advance in science, technology, agriculture, medicine, electricity, communications, computers etc. We hope that we shall overcome the fatal diseases like cancer or AIDS. The government will undertake a series of plans for economic development for raising the standard of living of the people. But the growth of the population may upset all the plans. Yet we hope to fight for a new world—a decent world that will give our youth a bright future and the old age a security.