India's Mineral Wealth and Political Future

DISCUSSIONS of the future of India usually proceed in political and social terms and often in a vein of prejudice and recrimination. In the course of them it sometimes happens that observers lose sight of fundamental economic realities which are most important for any long-term solution of Indian problems. These material factors are less controversial and deserve far more consideration than they customarily receive. One of them -- the presence under the soil of India of rich mineral deposits which in this industrial age are a primary source of national power and, even more significant, of social well-being -- should be taken into account by all who wish their opinions on the question of India's political future to be soundly based.

India's mineral deposits will determine in considerable measure her place in the world; and the way in which that wealth is distributed will affect the relationship not only of each part of the country to the other parts but also of the country as a whole to the world outside. Moreover, it seems to have been demonstrated by history that any general rise in a country's standard of living affects favorably the relations between the various peoples inhabiting its component parts. As they become better fed and better housed they also become better educated, better informed and more understanding and more tolerant towards each other in spite of racial or religious or other cleavages.

Probably almost every literate person has an opinion on the question of Indian independence. No sensible person not informed at first hand and not compelled by world events to find an immediate answer will propose a categorical solution to the problem of how it might be attained. This article does not pretend to report on many of the major elements involved. Political and religious questions, for example, are to an indefinable extent a matter of personal values, and a comparison of the validity of differing viewpoints founded on such values necessarily lies outside the technical competence of a geologist like the present writer. But although the geologist cannot propose the ideal solution for the cultural and political problems of India, his particular kind of information may be of value in helping to determine which of two specific steps in a difficult transition period might be more practical and helpful -- in a word, the better -- and which one might be the worse.

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