"India can’t improve the lot of its citizens unless it holds its own against the world’s powers." (found here).
Also stated here as:
"projection of power is necessary to create the conditions for human development through trade and culture."
All right, let's see. Iceland, Singapore, Korea, Norway, Taiwan, Japan and Germany after being devastated in WW2, arguably even Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, Botswana until it was hit by AIDS a decade ago: all these countries managed to "improve the lot" of their citizens, all somehow created the "conditions for human development."
Iceland was Europe's poorest country early last century; it is now among the world's wealthiest. Botswana has gone from being one of the world's poorest countries at independence in 1966 to Africa's richest and about the world's 50th richest by last year. Etc.
In what sense did any of these countries "hold its own against the world's powers"? In what sense did any of them indulge in "projection of power"?
And consider this from the viewpoint of countries that tried this "projection of power" to the exclusion of all else. Yep, I'm talking of those exemplary examples of doing right by their citizens: the Soviet Union under paragons like Stalin and Khrushchev, Germany under Hitler, Japan led into WW2 by Hirohito, Italy under Mussolini, China under Mao. Each certainly indulged in "projection of power".
Result: each brought immense suffering to its people.
The lesson of history is clear: the countries that concentrate on giving their citizens a reasonable life are the countries that become fundamentally strong, successful countries. India will improve the lot of its citizens not by worrying about "holding its own against the world's powers", whatever that might mean, but by focusing squarely on its citizens.
For example, one explanation of Botswana's success goes like this: Botswana "wisely us[ed] revenue generated from diamond mining to fuel economic development through prudent fiscal policies and a cautious foreign policy."
For example, in his Collapse, Jared Diamond describes the "great success story" of Iceland as "thanks to its abundance of fish, geothermal power, and hydroelectric power from all its rivers." He also explains how Icelanders recognized the shortsighted ecological mistakes they made early in their history, and worked to "take corrective action."
Such is the stuff of realpolitik, if you ask me. Not hand-waving about the "projection of power."
Postscript: You might want to look at this analysis of Norway's success, by an Icelandic economist. Among other things, he writes:
The decisive factor was the people. Norway, of course, always had its natural resources; but it was only with the advent of educated labour that it became possible for the Norwegians to harness those resources on a significant scale. Human capital accumulation was the primary force behind the economic transformation of Norway.