The world has heard much about India’s rise to economic power and its development of nuclear energy, but do these things alone make a nation a world power? India is headed to become the world’s most populous nation, it has the world’s fourth largest armed forces and it already has the world’s fifth largest economy. But, something else is also surging India into the ranks of those nations which can influence the world’s population. Once there was only Hollywood, today, Bollywood shares power in shaping the way people behave, think or dress.
In Afghanistan these days, the evening hour is spent watching India’s soap opera, “Kyunki Sass Bhi Kabhi Bahu” which apparently has even impacted attendance at religious activities. It has impacted a conservative Muslim nation in which family problems are hidden from view, but, now due to the power of TV people are discussing family issues and values. India is fast becoming a cultural influence even in the most conservative of Muslim societies. Indian cuisine is spreading as is its fashion designs as are its movies. In an age in which Information dominates the daily lives of people, India is fast becoming one of the most important players in the drama of capturing the minds and hearts of people.
Perhaps, the most important message India has sent to the world occurred when after its national elections in May, 2004, the Catholic leader of the winning party(Sonia Gandhi) made way for a Sikh, Manmohan Singh) to be sworn in as prime minister by a Muslim(President Abdul Kalami) — in a nation that is 81% Hindu. Welcome to the 21st century.