India stands as the fourth most powerful country in Asia but falls just short of the major power threshold in 2020, a study showed. According to the Sydney-based Lowy Institute's Asia Power Index for 2020, although India is the fourth most powerful nation in the Asia-Pacific following the US, China and Japan, it stops short of attaining the "major power" status in the said year (2020).
The country's (India's) power score dipped 1.3 points to 39.7 this year as compared to 41.0 in 2019, right at the threshold of the major power ceiling of 40 points, the Lowy Institute report revealed, adding that India is one of the 18 nations in the region to trend downward in its overall score in 2020. The country lost the most growth potential largely due to the health and economic toll in the wake of coronavirus pandemic, it said.
The report noted that India is yielding ground to China, as well as its standing as a future peer adversary to Beijing, has now become less certain, despite its demographic scale, to match the country.
"While India is the only country with the demographic scale to match China, expectations that it can begin to level with China in coming years are unrealistic. Indeed, the pandemic's significant toll on Indian society has only widened the power disparity between Asia's two most populous countries," the report highlighted.
"On current trends, India will only reach 40% of China's economic output by the close of the decade - down from the 50% forecast in the 2019 Asia Power Index," it added.
Terming India as a middle power in Asia, the report further stated that "Asia's second most populous country is now considered to be a high-performing middle power in Indo-Pacific." It added that India is more likely to regain its major power status in the coming years.
By 2030, the Indian economy is set to be 13% smaller than initially projected before the coronavirus pandemic, the Lowy Institute said in its report, adding that this equals a downward adjustment of around $3 trillion dollars at purchasing power parity.
However, India's diplomatic influence is improving in Asia, coupled with its aspirations to play a more prominent role in the region are apparent in 2020, the report revealed stating the country's defence networks and economic relationships are two of its weakest measures of power.
"On defence networks, it (India) has improved by one place, where it now ranks 7th - reflecting progress in its regional defence diplomacy - notably with the quadrilateral security grouping, which includes Australia, Japan and the United States. On economic relations, India has slipped into 7th place, overtaken by Australia, as it falls further behind in regional trade integration efforts," the institute said in the report.
It cited India's decision to withdraw from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) as the reason behind the dip in the country's ranking.
Meanwhile, the report revealed that China's economic clout is expanding in India's neighbourhood- including in Nepal where Beijing has displaced New Delhi as the primary foreign investor.
The report pointed out that although India wants to play a larger role in Asia in 2020, "the country needs to be understood on its own terms. Its rise as a superpower, if it happens, will be a multi-decade effort and is unlikely to be linear."