A nation is a feeling of collective belonging to an identity by its resident which has common language, culture, race, religion or territory. A nation is the culmination of a long past of endeavors, sacrifice and devotion of its great heroes, leaders, scientists, artists and most importantly its general public. The author’s point that the indicator of any great nation is represented by the achievements in general welfare of society and not by the achievements of its rulers, artists, or scientists is true to some extent. However I believe that the achievements of a nation's rulers, artists and scientists are synonymous to the general welfare of the people, instead of being separate as implied above.
How do you define a Great nation? To have common glories in the past, to have a common will in the present, to have performed great deeds together, to wish to perform still more, these are the essential conditions of a being a Great Nation. A nation is therefore a large-scale solidarity, its existence is a daily plebiscite, and the existence of nations is a good thing, a necessity even. The real indicators of a great Nation could be its Quality of Life, Human Rights Development Index, Happiness Index, GDP, political freedom, personal safety, education systems, public health care, and high standards of living.
As an illustration, let us look at two very different countries: Switzerland and Myanmar. Switzerland has been ranked among one of the countries that provide the highest standards of living in the world, which is inclusive of an efficient health care system and free education for all their citizens. Their success is reflected in their social, political and economic stability. On the other hand, Myanmar is a complete opposite representation of Switzerland. A country that has been backed by a harsh autocratic military regime for years, the citizens of Myanmar have long been oppressed and denied of many basic human rights. Even though the country is rich with natural resources, the people do not enjoy any of the wealth that comes with it. Instead they live in poor and squalid conditions. These conditions, on top of their lack of political freedom have led to many social uprising, which has most recently culminated into the public demonstrations by the monks in Yangon. By using the example of these two countries, it is fair to say that the general welfare of a nation's people is the surest indicator of a great/successful nation.
Consider the case in India. It has an enormous population and it achieved independence less than a century ago. A general overview of the welfare of its people will bring out the low average income, food scarcity and low literacy levels. These are all true but situations improve over time. It has one of the best educated people in the world and a highly modern telecommunication infrastructure. In this particular case, we should also look closely at the contributions of individuals from various fields. Ramanujan, an unorthodox mathematician, put India into the map of modern mathematics. Nobel Prize winner C.V. Raman’s contributions to physics displayed the technical prowess of India. Satyajit Ray won the lifetime achievement Oscar award for his excellence in cinema. Father of the Nation and Bharat Ratna, Mahatma Gandhi was one of the strongest freedom movement activist the world produced. There are plenty of examples to show that India is a great nation, not by virtue of the state of the people, but due to the outstanding contributions made by pioneers within the country. Hence, in certain cases, the achievements of rulers, artists or scientists can speak for the greatness of a nation.
As a conclusion, A nation that provides well for its people has the potential for a nation to grow into greatness; it promotes a conducive ground for political, economic and social growth. The achievements of a nation's rulers, artists and scientists are important indicators of a great nation as well but their achievements are tied to the general welfare of the society.