The United States Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) has issued a report that says Asia will have surpassed America and Europe combined in terms of global power by 2030. Of particular interest is the view that China, India and Brazil will be especially important to the global economy.
My minor objection to the report titled "Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds” is that it took 16 US intelligence agencies which come under the DNI umbrella to conclude what has been obvious for so long. When the world’s two most populous economies begin to transform at rates that China and India have done in the past 20 years it is bound to have a massive impact on the global economy.
When you consider that more than 2.5 billion people out of the total global population of 7.1 billion or more than 35 percent live in these two countries alone and marry that number with annual growth rates of between 8 to 10 percent for two decades and more, you begin to get a grip on the scale of the transformation.
What is striking about the DNI report is one particular comparison. The report notes, “It took Britain 155 years to double its GDP per capita, with about 9 million people…The US and Germany between 30 and 60 years with a few tens of millions of people..but India and China are doing at a scale and pace not seen…100 times the people than Britain and a tenth the time..By 2030 Asia will be well on its way to returning to being the world’s powerhouse, just as it was before 1500.”
Source: Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds
This is a seminal socio-cultural shift powered by economies. Interestingly though, the report says that this shift may not lead to the rise of any hegemonic power.
“Asia is set to surpass North America and Europe in global economic power, but there will not be any hegemonic power. The power of other non-Western or middle-tier states will rise.
This middle tier as a group will surpass Europe, Japan, and Russia. China’s economy will be 140-percent larger than Japan; India’s will be 16 times larger than Pakistan’s.
Technology will be a great leveler, shifting the balance of power towards multifaceted networks.”
A couple points jumped at me from this forecast. One is that India’s growth is still being seen in comparison with Pakistan’s while China’s is with Japan’s and two, that technology will be a great leveler.
While it is tempting to compare India’s economy with Pakistan’s, it is a bit of an invidious comparison. India cannot simultaneously be one of the three leading economies by 2030 alone with China and Brazil and still be bracketed with Pakistan, even if it is to make a point.
As for technology being a “great leveler”, it is a pretty dated perspective. Sam Pitroda, one of the world’s foremost technology and development experts, had said in the early 1990s, “Technology is a great social leveler, second only to death.”
On the specific question of how technology will transform the world the report says, “ We’ve identified 16 ‘disruptive’ technologies with potential global
significance out to 2030. They are grouped around potential energy
breakthroughs; food- and water-related innovations; big data and
forecasting human behaviors; and enhancement of human mental and physical capabilities and antiaging. Many will need concerted government efforts to be realized by 2030. An international security environment favoring cooperation is also a ‘must.’”