China vs. India- an independent assessment

Unfortunately most of the writings on the China present one-sided picture of China growth story while comparing it with India. Some writers appear to be totally mesmerized by the infrastructure growth of China. Some again keep on talking about the darker aspects of human rights, environmental damages, and excesses of the lone ruling party and it cadres.

Paul Danahar has contributed an article in Outlook’s Independence day Issue,‘Snake In Monkey’s Shadow’ that has some very logical analysis of the differences between the working of China and India.

China hates being spoken of in the same breath as India. It sees itself not as an emerging Great Power but as a re-emerging Great Power.

There is much more of a sense of entitlement to Great Power status from Chinese officials when you meet them privately than there is from their Indian counterparts, who still can’t quite believe the world is finally taking them seriously.

In reality, the Chinese don’t consider India an equal now and can’t comprehend the idea of it being one in the future. At best, they see New Delhi as an emerging political power that needs to be contained in South Asia rather than a potential global partner in a new Asian century.

India built its economic boom top down with technology-based industries that did not require a decent road or ports system.Indian entrepreneurs find a way out for succeeding inspite of the government. China worked from the bottom up, building on cheap labour and low margins to bulk-sell to the world.

China will probably soon overtake the US as India’s primary trading nation. That’s going to mean more cheap goods flooding Indian markets, undermining already inefficient industries. China has already begun investing heavily to create a hi-tech industrial base in a bid to offset losses in its own manufacturing sector, which is being nibbled at by Southeast Asian neighbours like Vietnam. Many expects India may start losing jobs to China even in IT and ITeS sectors. Left to politicians they will start making protectionist noises just like those coming from American Congressmen now. That will make diplomacy with China even harder.

Beijing’s gleaming skyscrapers, busy roads and can-do attitude are in stark contrast to the embarrassment that is the Indian capital. Beijing works in a way that Delhi simply doesn’t. There are no power cuts or water shortages. The roads are not broken, Beijing doesn’t grind to a halt when it rains! It does reflect the incompetence and corruption that rots away at the heart of India’s political establishment. China has, in many ways, got where it is today because of its government. India, with a few notable exceptions, is on the threshold of greatness despite its politicians.

China is going to win the sprint. India may win the marathon but it’ll probably require China to stumble. Economic bubbles burst, and when they do, things get messy. India would cope with that better. It has safety valves-like the ballot box, a free media and the right to get together with a bunch of like-minded people and march down the street hurling abuse at the government-which are enormously stabilising. China simply doesn’t. India also supports its entrepreneurs with things like the protection of property rights, something China is still only edging towards. China’s desperation to keep its economy going at breakneck speed is based on the need to create millions of new jobs every year.

The country’s physical infrastructure is breathtaking, but the foundations for a new social infrastructure have hardly been touched. Communism has been replaced by unbridled capitalism-making money at any cost, even if that means producing deadly baby food, poisonous toothpaste or toxic toys. ‘Made in China’ on the side of the box has recently begun to give people around the world pause for thought. China’s answer to too many problems is to quickly execute a few people and hope that’s enough. It isn’t.

So what makes India chaotic, unpredictable and frustrating may also be its saving grace.

Should Indians be content or compete? One thing is but sure. Indians must be more innovative to find the right solutions of their basic problems- power, water, education, inefficiency, indiscipline, and corruption. And sooner they come out with it, the better it will be for the nation.

Two recent news reports from China will be eye-opener: First, the CEO of the toy making company of China killed himself, as in the US toys manufactured by the company were considered health-hazards and were called back in millions. Second, Chinese are learning cricket in thousands and hope to be cricketing nation in a year or two. Perhaps these are the Chinese way of facing the challenge.

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