From the Viewsroom

More than GDP and weapons

Sandhya Rao | Updated on January 11, 2018 Published on May 09, 2017

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Global power’s about the reach of culture and media

It’s projected that China and India will take the lead over the US on a purchasing-power-parity basis by year 2050. The predictions are not as clear for defence spending, but it appears India will eventually be third, after the US and China, on this count. However, the US is projected to be far and away the leader of the pack as far as the entertainment and media (E&M) industry are concerned.

Now, there are many ways to determine what makes a superpower: GDP and military might are the two obvious criteria. But the more palpable and impactful surely has to be E&M. There are no balance sheets involved nor victories to be totted up. All it takes is to sign up and stream, wherever in the world you are. Or even simply browse: for information, for music, for movies, for games, to dispel loneliness, to express yourself…

Reports from PwC’s studies suggest that smartphone penetration has surged dramatically both in the developed and the developing world, leading to what is interestingly called “the democratisation of content”. News, entertainment, information, communication, time-pass…there’s all this and more available to anybody with a smartphone, with only the apps determining the extent of the hegemony.

Yes, hegemony. Because the world is now bowing before the technology monster. And this master is unequivocally led by the US. Anything on the internet is US-oriented… heck, even the spelling is American! So, never mind if Indonesia makes a dramatic rise up the GDP scale, and Brazil, Russia, Mexico, Japan, Germany scramble for a rank, it’s only the economy, silly. When it comes to what makes humanity’s heart tick, there’s no business like show business and that’s where the US tops the charts. Unless, of course, Mandarin grabs the world. But here Hindi has a head start. So what does that mean? Soft power is the real thing.

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Published on May 09, 2017
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