World: which country will call the 21st Century theirs?

Two vie, but only one is likely to achieve this accolade.

If ...
  • The 18th Century was the FRENCH century (consider of the influence of French diplomacy, language, cuisine, the last years of the reign of the Sun King, Louis XIV, the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Empire)
  • The 19th Century was the BRITISH century (think of the extent of the British Empire, the Industrial Revolution, Queen Victoria, the abolition of Slavery, Charles Dickens, the Royal and merchant navies, and the Westminster model of democratic government)
  • The 20th Century was the AMERICAN century (recall WWII, winning the Cold War, consumerism, investment banking and unbridled capitalism, Microsoft, Holywood)...
... then to which country do we anticipate the 21st Century will belong?

It will almost certainly be an Asian century such is the rise in influence, power and prestige of the Asian bloc as a whole. By 2050 China's economy is predicted by Goldman Sachs to have become almost double that of the US. India trails in third place but not far behind America. Russia will be small by comparison, largely due to relative population size. According to the BRIC analysis in 2001 from Goldman, the top ten in 2050 are expected to be:
  1. China
  2. United States
  3. India
  4. Brazil
  5. Mexico
  6. Russia
  7. Indonesia
  8. Japan
  9. United Kingdom
  10. Germany
How the mighty will have fallen by then, with France dropping out of sight (at number 12), Britain languishing, and America being usurped. Interestingly, Nigeria is predicted by Goldman to rank at number 11 by the year 2050. China is pre-eminent, yet what of India?

Due to the one-child policy, China's birth rate will tumble and Indians are set to outnumber Chinese. It's forecast that by 2050 there'll be 1,614 million Indians but only 1,417 million Chinese. Already Indian economic growth nearly matches China's. As the Indian population increases, and becomes better educated, will GDP growth in India outstrip that of China?

Possibly. Unlikely as it might appear in only the second decade of this Millenium, will the 21st Century be regarded as the INDIAN century? The Indians have one distinct advantage of course for like their predecessors the Brits and Americans they speak and write the language of commerce, English.

Then again, perhaps by the middle of this century, it'll be mandatory for all schoolchildren to learn Mandarin. And anyway, has any investment bank calculated demographic changes and economic growth forecasts for the second half of the 21st Century?

Yet the first signs are apparent of the rise of India, with huge multi-national corporations emerging like:
  • Tata Group, a multinational conglomerate
  • GVK, an infrastructure business
  • ArcelorMittal, a global steel giant, although now Luxembourg-based
  • Reliance Industries, a private sector conglomerate. 
It's probable we'll witness more rapid and notable acquisitions of international businesses as time progresses. But the spending spree has already begun. For example, Tata bought Jaguar Landrover and GVK snapped up a key stake in Hancock, an Australian mining company.

India has one further advantage over China. It is already democratic. And, despite stellar corruption levels, its democratic traditions and institutions appear robust. 

The signs are that a nascent movement to eradicate corruption has begun under the leadership of social activist Anna Hazare. The Gandhian campaigner has achieved Indian government concessions already with PM Manmohan Singh agreeing to establish a powerful new watchdog to check graft.

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