Dr Guha who was invited by the Aspen Institute India in New Delhi to speak on the topic said, “India needs to be, not a powerful or dominant country, but a country which is less discontented from within."
He elucidated ten points which according to him impedes the growth of the country to the stature of a superpower.
- Religious extremism: Long term trends indicate that liberals and moderates in every religious community in India are on the defensive.
- Left wing extremism in the form of the Naxalite movement, which is a result of geographical reasons and also social and political forces, owing to the continued dispossession and deprivation of tribal people in India
- The corruption and corrosion of the power center in India, as a result of political parties functioning as family firms rather than open, transparent political systems.
- Decline of public institutions, including universities, police, civil services, the judiciary (except for higher judiciary) etc.
- The increasing gap between the rich and the poor which is particularly manifested through farmer suicides in India, a phenomenon that has become pervasive only in the last 10-15 years, perhaps because there is now the expectation of a 'good life" that did not exist before.
- Environmental degradation at a local level, which is impacting people"s lives in very real ways, whether in the form of massive depletion of underground aquifers, chemical contamination of soil, death of rivers, loss of species etc.
- Apathy of the media in covering issues of rising income inequality, environmental degradation.
- Political fragmentation manifests as coalition governments at both the central and regional levels, which makes it very difficult to forge sustainable long term policies in the realm of health, education, etc.
- India"s unresolved border disputes, especially in Kashmir and the North East (Nagaland and Manipur) which indicates that there are parts of India that are not comfortable with being part of India.
- India"s increasingly unstable neighbourhood is another serious impediment to our superpower ambitions.
And out of the reasons he has listed out, he emphasised on environmental degradation and primary education as major challenges.
The historian who is now popular due to the snippets of information he gives in the news channel, CNN IBN, noted that at the time of freedom in 1948 said that government was seen as the only passage through which change will happen. This has however changed and there is a sense of optimism, but government is still perceived as the hurdle to nation's growth.