India is the seventh-largest and second-most populated country in the world. It is located in South Asia and is bordered by Bangladesh, Bhutan China, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. India has a fast-growing major economy and is also an information technology hub with an enlarging middle class. In addition, the country has a space program and its movies, music and spiritual education play a broadening role in worldwide culture. While India has considerably decreased its poverty rate, economic inequality has gone up.
Is India a third world country? Yes, India is considered a third world country as well as a developing country. The nation has high rates of poverty, corruption, an out-of-date caste framework, child malnutrition, high levels of air pollution and gender inequality. Nevertheless, the Indian economy is considered one of the fastest-growing economies in the globe.
India’s labour force, which consists of about 513.7 million workers, is the second largest in the globe. Its service industry makes up 55.6% of the gross domestic product, the industrial sector comprises of 26.3%, and agriculture takes up 18.1%. Major agricultural products include cotton, jute, oilseed, potatoes, rice, sugarcane and tea. The country’s primary industries are biotechnology, cement, food processing, machinery, mining, petroleum, pharmaceuticals, software, steel and transport equipment. An expat considering a move to India may want to know, why is India regarded as a third world country? Does India have the potential to become a first-world country? Please, read on for more details.
Why is India Regarded as a Third World Country?
In Cold War times, the term Third World defined countries that were neither aligned with the Communist Soviet bloc nor the Capitalist NATO bloc. In recent times, the term’s meaning has changed to refer to countries facing high poverty rates, inadequate access to basic necessities and economic uncertainty.
India is among the third world countries for the following reasons:
Similar to many other developing countries, India still faces the problem of unfair distribution of income and riches. On one side, there are high-flying, tech-savvy people driving flashy vehicles in and out posh hotels and clubs. On the other hand, there are people who are languishing in poverty and struggling to survive. The income disparity is caused by the country’s poorly structured agricultural sectors and rural safety net programs.
- Violence against Women
Among some Indian communities, women are often degraded. Stories of women being raped and tortured in India have hit the headlines over the recent past. Society seems to favour males over females, and many women face violence every day. Moreover, the Asian country has one of the lowest rates of participation of working-age females in the workforce.
Again, like many other third world countries, India has high levels of corruption. This vice has mired the nation’s growth greatly, and former and current governments have not been successful in getting a permanent solution. A substantial portion of the population pays bribes or uses contacts to receive services offered by public offices. Corruption is primarily caused by excessive regulations, complex tax and licensing framework, and many government departments with hazy bureaucracy and unrestricted powers. However, fortunately, India’s corruption seems to be experiencing a decline. In 2019, the country was ranked at 80th position out of 180 in a Corruption Perceptions Index.
- Poor Skill Development and High Unemployment Rate
Over 50% of the Indian labour force needs reskilling by 2022 to fulfil future talent demands. The Indian education system seems to focus on acquiring conceptual knowledge instead of tangible skills, which are required for employability.
Additionally, the informal economy has more jobs than the formal economy at a ratio of 4 to 1. For India to attain developed country stature there is a need to provide citizens with the right skills and beneficial education.
- Lack of Adequate Access to Proper Toilets
While millions of toilets have been set up in rural India, a substantial portion of the people continues to defecate in the open. That is because many of the residents believe that emptying pit latrines is impure.
- Deteriorating Infrastructure
The country has struggled to enhance its deteriorating infrastructure sector in commerce, education and medical care. It has an overstressed power grid, which causes frequent power failures.
The requirement of generators to provide air conditioning and electricity during power failures leads to additional costs that Indian businesses have to subsume.
Furthermore, public transport and road systems haven’t maintained pace with the increase in population. And, the education infrastructure in the country is backward.
Does India Have The Potential To Become A First World Country?
Yes, India has great potential of moving from a developing nation to a developed country. It is currently considered an emerging superpower, because of positive demography trends and rapidly growing economy. However, the country needs to overcome numerous economic, political and social issues before it can be regarded as a superpower. For now, it is not yet as influential as the US, Russia and China on the international arena.
Nonetheless, there are many factors that favour India’s potential to become a first-world country. For starters, India’s high population provides the country with a large labour force for numerous decades, which helps its growth.
Additionally, the high birth rate means that India possesses a young population in comparison to the more developed countries. About 65% of the populace is under 35 years of age.
In the oncoming decades, whereas some of the most powerful countries will see a reduction in workforce quantities, India is projected to witness an increase.
Another favourable factor is the global diaspora of the citizens. Over 35 million Indians are reported to live across the world. Under equal opportunities, those citizens have attained socio-economic success, particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom.
Furthermore, India features one of the largest English fluent populations. The country produces one of the biggest labour forces of medical professionals, engineers and other primary professionals, who are all knowledgeable of English. In addition to English, Indians are also putting in an effort to learn French, Dutch, Chinese, German, Italian, Korean, Spanish and Japanese.
Certain political factors also favour India’s potential for becoming a developed nation. India is the largest democratic republic in the world; it is three times larger than the United States.
Being a democracy has enhanced the country’s relation with other democratic countries and substantially enhanced its ties with most developed world nations.
Foreign relations are another favourable variable for India’s development. India has created relationships with global powers, such as the EU, Japan, Russia and the US. It has also formed a relationship with the African Union, South East Asia, South American countries, the Arab World, and Israel.
Additionally, the country is investing in its relations with neighbouring China with an aim to enhance economic growth. It has substantially improved its image among countries in the West and entered a civilian nuclear deal with the U.S. in 2006. India is also working hard to improve its relations with Pakistan.
India’s economy became the third-largest worldwide in 2011 for real gross domestic product (PPP) after the USA and China. The World Bank reports that India beat China to become the quickest growing major global economy in 2015.
The primary sector of the country’s economy is agriculture. It is estimated that India is the second-largest food producer after China, and food processing makes up $69.4 million in gross income.
When it comes to manufacturing, India is still a fairly small player in comparison to numerous global leaders. However, an improvement is projected to happen in the coming years, because the manufacturing is experiencing a growth of rate of 11-12%.
India also has an enlarging IT sector, which is viewed as one of the best globally. Some people have started to describe the country as a technology superpower. India is regarded as the World’s Office and has a leading Services sector. That is primarily because of the availability of a huge pool of a low-cost and well-skilled workforce that speaks and understands English.
The country’s science and technology industry is experiencing rapid growth. India was the third country to establish a National Space Agency known as ISRO, following the USSR and the United States.
Also, it was the third country on the Asian continent to transport satellites into space after the Republic of China and Japan. Moreover, it became the fourth country to finish atmospheric reentry in 2007. One year later, India was declared the fourth nation to ever reach the surface of the moon.
Following India’s success in space-travel technologies, it has experienced increased mutual collaboration with the United States in that particular sector.
In terms of remote sensing, India is definitely among world leaders. The technology of remote sensing is proving highly useful to Indian fishermen and farmers.
In an effort to decrease its energy crisis, the Asian country has invested in the construction of several civilian nuclear reactors and hydro-power stations. It also entered a civilian nuclear energy contract with the European Union and the United States.
In addition, after joining forces with China in a campaign to amass oil fields across the globe, India has a stake in a couple of oil fields.
From the factors mentioned above, it is clear that India is in the right path toward becoming a developed nation.
About the author: Marta Kovachek is the author of this article. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.