• Friday, March 01, 2024

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What moved India in 2023

Despite its many achievements in economy and technology, critics have said that India could have done better in areas of human rights, democratic values, freedom of speech, ease of doing business and federalism.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi greets crowd during the Indian community programme, in Paris, France, on Thursday, July 14, 2023. (ANI Photo)

By: Rajesh Mehta

WE Indians are optimistic about 2024, with the hope that we will be able to rise above our challenges and be a stronger voice for the Global South.

2023 was a year of disruptive transformation for India in many ways. Compared to 2022, which was a contest of ideas, 2023 has been a year of massive technological transformation for India in areas such as AI, space and quantum technology, while successfully chairing G20 and GPAI. India emerged as a cultural superpower in the world. It was also a great year for India in sports.

Despite its many achievements in economy and technology, critics have said that India could have done better in areas of human rights, democratic values, freedom of speech, ease of doing business and federalism.

In 2023, emerging AI systems, including ChatGPT, showcased an unprecedented capacity for human-like conversation, sparking a mix of excitement and concern over the rapid progress in machine intelligence. As India took the chair of Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence, our role in the growing AI governance came to the fore. In the coming years, India’s role would be crucial if AI has to be human centric and for the social good.

Under the theme of “One Earth, One Family, One Future” India hosted the 20th G20 Summit. Key focal areas of the summit included energy security, countering climate change impacts, advancing sustainable development goals, boosting global food production, and stabilizing the world economy undergoing unrest. Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged unity and consensus-building to tackle the “unprecedented contemporary crises looming over the world”.

Yet deep divisions remained on issues like the Ukraine war. While India had laid out an ambitious agenda centered on unity to tackle critical global issues from climate change to food security, deep divisions between members on key areas like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine hampered consensus. Hence, the 2023 Summit closed with India presenting a 13-paragraph summary document highlighting members’ commitments in addressing broader challenges like rising inflation, debt vulnerabilities, food and energy security concerns moving forward. An easing of global trade restrictions was urged to mitigate looming recession risks.

It has also been the year of women empowerment, with the Women’s Reservation Bill allotting 33% seats specifically to women in Parliament, with the President giving assent from this year. In the coming decades, the impact of this bill would be felt and hopefully it would have positive consequences.

India soared back to the moon with the successful Chandrayaan-3 mission in 2023. Launched in June with a domestically-built lander and rover, it marked India’s comeback just two years after its last lunar attempt crash-landed. Chandrayaan-3 will soon analyze the moon’s composition, a significant step toward India’s lofty goals in deep space exploration and advancing scientific leadership globally. Our lunar mission has been accompanied by another ISRO mission to the sun to observe it closely—the Aditya mission to study the surface of the sun.

During COP28’s climate talks in 2023, global leaders aimed to address urgent climate crises in Dubai. focused on cutting emissions and supporting vulnerable communities. India led discussions on climate change and global economic stability, working to find effective solutions to these challenges. India was partially successful in raising issues of the Global South but the accountability problem of the developed world remained. During his address at COP28 in Dubai, Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended an invitation to host the COP33 in India in 2028.

The National Quantum Mission (NQM) is India’s initiative to propel scientific and industrial advancement in Quantum Technology (QT). Over 2023-2031, it aims to foster R&D, cultivating a robust quantum ecosystem. The mission aims to solidify India’s position in QT, impacting sectors like healthcare, defence, and data security. While quantum tech promises unprecedented advancements, challenges like cost, sensitivity to the environment, and limited control remain, necessitating further development and refinement.

In the semiconductor race of 2023, companies vie to create “2 nanometre” chips fuelling the next-gen of smartphones and AI. The Indian semiconductor market was valued at approximately $23.2 bn and is projected to reach $80.3 bn by 2028. Focus and strides on semiconductor development have increased in the country manifold with rising interest in national empowerment.

2023 was also the year when India’s demographics reached a critical point. We emerged as the world’s most populous country, with a 1.4 billion population we’ve now surpassed China. 2024 would be a very crucial year for India as it’s the year of the national general election and the year when the inauguration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya will take place. We Indians are optimistic about 2024, with the hope that we will be able to rise above our challenges and be a stronger voice for the Global South. Our cultural influence would continue to increase and the Indian economy will remain resilient in the year to come.

Rajesh Mehta is a leading international consultant in market entry, innovation and public policy.

(This piece was first published in The Sunday Guardian and has been carried here with its permission)

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