The Century without an Indian Summer

How will the global South fare in our likely future of energy shortages, climate change and resource nationalism (and wars)? India has China’s population mass, but lacks its industrial dynamism and human capital. Africa has Russia’s energy and mineral wealth, but not the military power or social coherence to defend it. South America’s prospects appear brighter – it at least may have the crucial degree of strategic isolation, industrial infrastructure and energy and agricultural wealth to eke out a comfortable (if not luxurious) existence in the turbulent times ahead. In the next few posts, I will assess the future prospects of these three regions in the post-peak oil world, starting with India.

A 2007 Goldman Sachs report estimated India’s GDP growth potential at about 8% until 2020, reinforcing the hype of recent years over “India shining” and the vigorous IT industry springing up in oases like Bangalore. This may well be realistic, even despite India’s manifold social problems (low human capital, creaky infrastructure, caste-based inequalities, an unwieldy bureaucracy, sluggish courts, etc), under a global “business-as-usual” scenario. That however is highly unlikely, for the hard numbers suggest that India will be economically and geopolitically squeezed out of the resources it needs to prosper or even survive by its massive eastern neighbor, China. There are limits to growth on our planet and no guarantees that they will be distributed fairly or equitably in the coming age of scarcity industrialism.

Why India is not China

The two countries share fundamental similarities. Both have more than a billion inhabitants, sustained by great rivers like the Ganges, Huang He and Yangtze that are fed by the (melting) Himalayan glaciers. Both rely on coal to meet the bulk of their primary energy needs and will need to import ever more hydrocarbons, metals and food products from abroad to power future growth. Both are ancient hydraulic civilizations that got left behind during the Industrial Revolution and are now determined to make up lost time. But to realize these dreams, they must compete with each other – directly or indirectly – for the same global energy, mineral and water resources.

Unfortunately for India, its Chinese competitor is dominant across practically all indices of national power one cares to compare.

India China
GDP / capita 2009 2900$ 6600$
Literacy rate 1995-2005 66% 93%
Manufacturing sector (current prices) 2008 190bn $ 1800bn $
Internet penetration 2008 5% 22%
Planned infrastructure spending 2008-11 240bn $ 725bn $
Naval tonnage 164,000 346,000

[Sources: GDP per capitaliteracy; manufacturing; Internet penetrationinfrastructure; naval].

Let’s now look at the significance of each of the above. First, the average Chinese is now substantially richer than the average Indian. This matters because state power is tied to the surplus it can extract in taxes from a recalcitrant citizenry. There is no better proof of the importance of technological advancement and per capita productivity than 19th century Qing China, which although still the world’s largest economy during the Opium Wars got casually trounced by British gunships with modern artillery and steam power. We aren’t talking about that kind of gap between India and China, of course, but it does exist. The Chinese are now simply better able to actualize advanced industrial and military technologies that they buy (or steal) from the developed world into forms of power that matter – renewable energy, supercomputers, naval C&C, etc…


China leapfrogged India despite the ruinous economic legacy of Maoism, which was surely far worse than that of the “License Raj”. The best way of explaining this puzzle is in terms of China’s better educational profile. The main determinant of long-term economic growth is a country’s human capital (see 123), which for the most part consists of the educational attainment of its population (which in turn is strongly correlated with its level of national IQ). Not only has China implemented basic schooling far more comprehensively than India (see the literacy rates), but in the past decade it has also charged ahead in tertiary enrollments. And there is some evidence that the Chinese have a big structural advantage in IQ over Indians; if that is truly the case, then convergence will be nigh impossible in principle.

As a result of its huge pool of well-educated workers, China enjoys an almost total industrial supremacy over India. China’s manufacturing sector was worth nine times India’s in 2008. This is reflected in practically any sector one cares to survey. Last year, China produced near half the world’s steel and almost ten times India’s output, and 13.8mn automobiles to India’s 2.6mn. In the most fundamental industrial sector, machine tool building, China was global first with 15bn $ of output, relative to India’s insignificant 268mn $. In summary: China is charging past America; India lingers at the level of France, Brazil and Russia.

No matter the hype around IT services off-shoring to India, its eastern rival is more “informatized” (despite the debilitating effects of China’s Great Firewall). Not only is China’s infrastructure already leagues ahead of India’s, it continues to spend three times as much on expanding it further.

Finally, China has a military edge over India – not only in numbers, but also qualitatively in crucial sectors such as naval, space, strategic nuclear and cyberwar. The PRC has a third of the world’s shipbuilding capacity (India has the world’s biggest shipbreaking industry) and some projections indicate the PLAN could have more warships than the USN by 2020. India does not have the industrial strength to embark on such an ambitious enterprise. Plus, a significant part of its military budget is tied up in maintaining military superiority over Pakistan on land; as a result, resources get diverted from the all-important Navy.

India in the Age of Scarcity Industrialism

Though both Asian giants are essentially world-islands (that is, civilizations so deep and self-contained as to constitute their own worlds), they are increasingly tied to the larger world system of capital and resource flows. Their economic progress and rising affluence has to be supported by outside energy sources. Meanwhile, trends such as climate change and urbanization are slated to suppress their agricultural yields, necessitating more imports of “virtual water” in the form of food from abroad. As such, it is vital for both China and India to develop both ways of paying for these life-giving imports (e.g. selling goods, accumulating foreign currency) or if necessary seizing them by force (using gunboats and expeditionary forces). Thus it is their common geopolitical prerogative to safeguard the sealanes carrying their bulk commodity inflows from the Middle East, Africa and South America.

Chinese naval modernization is proceeding in tandem with a far-sighted “string of pearls” strategy of naval base construction on its outlying coastal islands and friendly nations such as Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Pakistan (they will host radar stations, anti-ship batteries and logistics hubs for naval operations). India has no such project at sea, while on land it is constrained by the hilly jungles of Indochina to the east, the impenetrable Himalayas to the north and a hostile Pakistan to the west. Though it does have a thin slice of access to chaotic, mineral-rich Afghanistan and Russian-dominated Central Asia, it is hard to see how India can marshal the political will and capital resources to build the necessary infrastructure to exploit them.

It should not be forgotten that India faces severe challenges managing its own subcontinent. Contrary to popular opinion, the Pakistani military is not the foremost strategic threat to India – even the worse-case scenario, a full-scale nuclear exchange, will not kill more than 1% of the Indian population. Far more worrying is the specter of the collapse of the Pakistani state. The region contains a 168mn strong population, growing at more than 2% a year, in a desert only made habitable by canal systems drawing on the Indus River, which is dependent on Himalayan glacial runoff for 90% of its water volume. Perpetually capital-poor, indebted and overpopulated, Pakistan faces the specter of a drying Indus by the 2040’s (if the more pessimistic studies are correct)… after that come the climate refugees, the collapse of the Punjab breadbasket, the raids from the Baloch highlands and general nuclearized anarchy. Bangladesh, most of whose 160mn people live just one or two meters above sea level in an area the size of England, could literally find itself underwater as the 21st century grinds on. No wonder India is pouring 1.2bn $ into a border fence sealing it off.

(Incidentally, the prospect of failed states spilling mass columns of refugees into India would make a great leverage point for China. By supporting Pakistan and Bangladesh just enough to prevent them from collapsing, they would become its vassals…)

India too will experience diminished river flows because of melting glaciers, but not to a critical extent like Pakistan, because the Ganges and Brahmaputra are far more monsoonal. (Nonetheless, like China, India has some very ambitious water megaprojects on the cards). In an abrupt reversal from the earlier successes of the Green Revolution, the rapid depletion of the fossil aquifers used for irrigation in India is contributing to stagnating food production. Though China also suffers from the same problem, it is better equipped to weather it by virtue of its economic strength (foods for goods deals) and strategic foresight (e.g. buying foreign farmlands).

India’s best strategy now is to push the Japan-Korea-Russia-India strategic alliance concept beyond mere rhetoric. If these countries remain splintered in the face of a waning American superpower, Chinese hegemony in the Pacific and Indian Oceans becomes near inevitable. On the other hand, Japanese and Korean capital and knowhow, Russian energy and military technology and Indian manpower and potential economic dynamism could balance out China (and their foreign policy experts worry at the prospect). This diplomacy should be pursued in conjunction with increased spending on ballistic missile defense (to neutralize the Pakistani strategic threat), buying back Sri Lanka (to break China’s string of pearls) and most importantly naval expansion (to exert control over the Indian Ocean littoral).


Some commentators believe India has a long-term advantage over China because of 1) its vibrant liberal democracy and 2) younger and more fertile population. I disagree on both counts.

First, there is no empirical evidence showing that democracies develop faster than authoritarian regimes; indeed, the converse is often true, since the latter can often suppress living standards to squeeze out more resources for investment (on the other hand democracies tend to be freer of the megalomaniac delusions indulged in by some autocrats and hence experience fewer absolute train-wrecks). There may well be a case to be made that a more authoritarian Indian government could have provided mass education and infrastructure better and earlier. Or maybe not: as Amartya Sen theorized in The Argumentative Indian, they do have a traditionally open and discursive culture, one that seems far closer to the West than “Oriental despotism”. Regardless, I think it is safe to say that at least until both Asian giants become fully developed – which will take decades if it ever happens at all – democracy won’t give India any significant advantages.

Second, the idea that China will grow old before it will grow rich is one that should die already. If you don’t want to read this Goldman Sachs report, consider that China’s current development level is the same as South Korea’s in the late 1980’s; its fertility transition lags by only a decade or so (Korea’s fertility fell below replacement level rates in 1983 and is now at 1.19 children per woman; China’s in 1993 and is now at 1.77 children per woman*). Doesn’t exactly sound like the makings of a demographic apocalypse. Meanwhile, India’s huge (and still growing at 1.3% per year) population will sooner be a liability than an asset.

In the final analysis, demography and democracy count for little in the hard, cold (or should that be hot?) world of the post-peak oil future. What matters is India’s capacity to build a modern, sustainable society, solve its environmental challenges and overcome its geopolitical dilemmas. So far it has been largely unsuccessful on all three fronts. Development is largely confined to urban oases, at the cost of further environmental strains and geopolitical dependencies. Its policy-makers do not appear to be pursuing a coherent grand strategy. And when it comes to the manifold impacts of scarcity industrialism – diminishing energy and food sources, climate change, failed states – India is subject to forces beyond its control. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that India faces an increasingly bleak future in a world of limits to growth.

* Adjust down to 1.60 to take into account the male-female gender imbalance.

  • Contrary to popular opinion, the Pakistani military is not the foremost strategic threat to India – even the worse-case scenario, a full-scale nuclear exchange, will not kill more than 1% of the Indian population.

    That’s something of an understatement of the effect that the devastation of India’s largest cities would have on its long-term growth prospects. How likely would India be as (say) a destination for foreign investment even after such a conflict with peacefully settled?

    On Pakistan’s water supply, it’s worth noting that the headwaters of the Indus all lie in Indian territory. Enormous potential for chaos exists there.

    • AK

      The contribution of FDI to India’s growth is near negligible, so I doubt it will have much of an effect. While the process of rebuilding is going to be costly, Herman Khan’s calculations indicate post-nuclear war recovery will be quick.

      Agreed on India’s stranglehold on Pakistan’s water. Two factors mitigate it, however: 1) India does not want to see Pakistan collapse outright, and 2) Pakistan is allied with China, which itself has a similar, if relatively weaker, stranglehold on India’s water through its control of Tibet.

  • More people for China won’t do this country any good. The nation might not get old before it gets rich, but it’s likely that the government still won’t pay out those senior pensions.

    On the world’s scale the rapid growth of human population is never a good thing. Demographers believe that when the number of people reaches 10 billion, we’ll have problems, because there is not enough recourses as it is. What’s the point in having a country with good demographics and high level of industrialization if there’s nothing to eat or drink?

  • Alexander

    The literacy is somewhat tricky in China. Its difficult to compare hieroglyphic and letters. 2000 hieroglyphs is enough to read yellow papers but not enough to do science. How to measure?

    • AK

      Basic English grammar is tricky for many English-speakers. The US functional literacy rate is estimated to be 75%. So I doubt we should be so quick to dismiss China’s literacy stats.

  • John

    Absolute rubbish. Trying to compare India and China, the former an open society which airs its laundry in an equally open manner and the other a secretive dictatorship which massages the facts, is like trying to compare apples and oranges. Until such time as we get full and open access to China and not the distorted image that is peddled via its firewalled confines, trying to arrive at some objective comparison is an utter waste of time.

    • AK

      Which facts exactly does China massage? It’s not the 1960’s or North Korea. Indians themselves frequently unfavorably compare their country to China and I doubt the Chinese Internet is as suppressed as you seem to think.

      Furthermore, China doesn’t have many incentives to exaggerate its figures. In fact, claiming that it is a low-income country has several advantages: 1) it can argue the world should give it leeway on its soaring CO2 emissions, 2) disarm US pressures to let the yuan appreciate and 3) not provoke increased US political and military attention to East Asia. These things would be complicated if it were to inflate its figures. So why should it shoot itself in the foot by inflating its figures?

      • Scowspi

        Whatever facts China is “massaging,” there is one important fact that can’t be denied: the country really does have a big impact on the world and on our everyday lives. Try to live without buying something made in China – it ain’t easy.

        Personally I am somewhat agnostic about China’s internal situation and system of governance. I think much of the criticism directed against it is based on an unspoken assumption that a dictatorship cannot be successful in the long term and that democracy will always triumph.

      • Damien RS

        The central government has little incentive (that I know of) to inflate its figures. But the provincial governments may have lots of incentive to inflate or just make up the figures they report to the central government. From what I hear, central control is rather… loose… on many issues, e.g. corruption. So the official numbers may be honest summations of outright lies. Do we know otherwise?

        • AK

          That is a good point. Regional leaders are very much encouraged to deliver high growth and I wouldn’t at all be surprised if there is a lot of fudging going on (though we simply don’t know). Still, it would be differences of degree rather than order of magnitude.

        • In the loop
          • AK


  • georgesdelatour


    I broadly agree with your analysis, and I don’t think democracy automatically leads to greater prosperity. But I think one-party states have their own special problems too.

    If a mainstream US/UK/Indian political party is out of power for 12 years they know it’s not the end. There’s always the next election. If the Chinese or North Korean Communist party is out of power for 12 minutes they know that really will be the end. That gives Communist governments very different motivations. Their first concern is to retain a permanent and total grip on domestic power. Of course the Democrats, or the Conservatives, or Congress also want to hang on to power. But this is different, because under the Communist system, to lose power once is to lose it forever. Everything is at stake.

    At the moment the need for domestic control is leading to policies which broadly benefit China as a whole (not so North Korea). In the past it led to stupid policies like the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution – neither of which could have happened in a democracy like India. It’s important to bear this in mind.

    Another related point. We’re discussing China and India’s current rise to importance. But let’s remember that in 1950 South Korea was officially poorer than both countries. Lee Kuan Yew has said that Singapore’s economic ascendancy from 1965 was greatly helped by the fact that China and India pursued stupid economic policies right up to the late 1980s: this gave Singapore an economic head start it had no right to expect. So rather than concentrate on how well China’s doing, we should remember that other, smaller countries in Asia see it more in terms of, “what took you guys so long?”.

    • “So rather than concentrate on how well China’s doing, we should remember that other, smaller countries in Asia see it more in terms of, “what took you guys so long?”

      In a counterfactual scenario where Deng Xiaopeng didn’t open up China, or did so more slowly, it seems reasonable to suggest that those smaller countries–I’m thinking particularly of Southeast Asia, with countries like Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam which compete in the same global economic registers, but Mexico also.

    • AK

      Indeed, you won’t find an argument from me on this one – “on the other hand democracies tend to be freer of the megalomaniac delusions indulged in by some autocrats and hence experience fewer absolute train-wrecks”. China essentially lost two decades from 1958 to 1976-8.

      One point of interest – there’s a flip side to China (and India) having developed earlier than they actually did – the global environmental situation with regards to atmospheric CO2 concentrations would be significantly worse.

      • below_freezing

        I disagree. In 1958-1976, though China’s GDP/capita did not grow, its absolute economic size did. And it was during this time that China started outpacing India in the fundamentals – literacy, lifespan, and major technologies such as nuclear weapons, aerospace and heavy engineering. This is considering that India gained independence 2 years earlier, did not suffer 15 years of continuous war (since WW2 was fought in China, not in India, and India had no civil war), and had the infrastructure left behind by the British Empire. Right now, India’s lifespan and literacy rates are about equal to those of China’s during the Cultural Revolution. Clearly, China was doing SOMETHING RIGHT under Mao. China’s first nuclear submarine was launched in 1971. India’s was launched in 2011, and doesn’t even have the reactor installed. China’s first indigenously produced tank rolled off the line in 1959. India’s Arjun still is in construction. I think we can see the gap between the nations, and it originated precisely in the 20 years that we thought were “wasted”. They were only wasted in that China did not FULLY develop its potential, but China was not sitting still at all. India, however, was.

        • Jennifer

          Well if you say China was doing SOMETHING RIGHT under Mao Zedong … possibly you’re referring to the Cultural Revolution? Much traditional Chinese culture was destroyed during the period from 1968 or thereabouts to 1976 but it probably also convinced many in the government that reliance on ideology was dangerous and that if China were to progress and retain the people’s loyalty, it had to do better than simply rely on ideology and propaganda. Eventually those politicians and their allies who supported the Cultural Revolution were weeded out of government somehow and a pragmatic mind-set was adopted.

  • Dennis Redmond

    India has some core economic strengths which will enable them to grow very, very fast:

    (1) High rates of domestic investment (pushing past 35%, on their way to 40%).
    (2) Low domestic debt levels. Government debt is 80% of GDP, which may sound like a lot, but private debt is very low (most analysts estimate about 40% GDP). Total debt-to-GDP is around 120%, similar to the other BRICs.
    (3) Banking system is 80% state-owned. Strong regulations mean no bubbles, state ownership means funds can be channeled into infrastructure.
    (4) $270 billion in foreign exchange reserves.
    (5) 12 million university students (and the number is rising fast).

    India will also benefit enormously from the Green Energy/renewable economy — it has huge potential in biofuels, solar and windpower.

    • Jennifer

      But there is a problem too that may affect these core economic strengths and that’s the level of corruption that exists at all levels of society. Having strong regulations does not tell you whether the banking industry is clean or not; all the regulations are as nothing if they’re not enforced.

      You may like to look at this website which was set up by a former public servant in India to highlight instances of bribery and corruption. Indians who have been affected by bribery are invited to submit examples of bribe-taking and corruption among public officials. There is even a Corruption Quotient test you can take to see how corruptible you might be!

  • […]Earlier this month Antoly Karlin (of Sublime Oblivion) wrote an interesting post outlining several possible trajectories India may take in the near future.[…]

  • The point that you have raised are quite good one like in terms of the manufacture and infrastructure sector India has loads of work to do. Though your point regarding that democracy is a hindrance to the growth compared to autocratic nature of China is not entirely correct. If you take a look at china’s growth it has occurred only in certain cities and without doubt cannot be classified as uniform. Though I am not commenting that India is having a uniform growth but yes compared to china far better in terms of distribution of growth.

    India has many states which are looking after their interest and in case of Pakistan it is going to be failed state anyway given the grave that they have dug for themselves via funding terrorism and all those Indians who had pain of partition would say to this situation of Pakistan : We told you so.

    we have an online geopolitical journal which focuses on these issues , kindly visit and give your comments on various articles.

    In terms of the age factor that you raise in India , even the prime-minister has acknowledged that if we are not able to give good jobs to this growing population then this very population will become a liability. China has not yet seen the downfall of its one child policy which it will be rearing in decades to come when old will be more in number compared to young and young will be burdened. The economy will certainly slow down and it is here that India will benefit.

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  • john

    Broadly agree with your assessment. In addition, I think that in the coming decade( by the end of 2020), you will see Indian GDP growth slow down significantly. The reason is that the GDP growth in India today is narrowly based(agriculture. outsourcing). In aggriculture, they are running into the natural limits and need to have mega projects to improve irrigation etc. Given the slow pace of their infrastructure development, I think it is easy to hit bottle necks here. In outsourcing, they are running into human resource limitations as evidenced by their spiraling wage increases in recent years. To maintain the same growth rate, they would have to not only maintain the same growth rate for these two industries ( which would be an impossibility in it self), They would also have to grow the other sectors. Since outsourcing robbed the scarce brain power from all other industries ( this is evidenced by ever shabbier government functions as outsourcing industries boomed in the recent decades), it would be even hard for them to stay the same size.
    People keep talking about a demographic dividend. I think it is more like a curse for India since they come generally from the low end of the IQ gene pool and not brought up educated. They are just going to suck out more resources like water and food without producing much of value.

    • Kurt

      “People keep talking about a demographic dividend. I think it is more like a curse for India since they come generally from the low end of the IQ gene pool and not brought up educated. They are just going to suck out more resources like water and food without producing much of value.”

      Indians don’t come from the low end of the IQ gene pool. There’s no proof that any human population is genetically less disposed to intelligence. A lot of Indians get less training to develop their abilities and malnutrition does generally play a role in reducing the development of physical and mental abilities. The statement that there are worthless people sucking away ressources would make Hitler proud because now you have understood what the Nazi ideology was all about (next step is eliminating everything you consider suckers). Among these poor farmers are a lot of guys who develop clever ideas to improve their lives, however, these ideas rarely get known outside their village. There’s currently a project collecting such inventions and making them known to a broader public, even mass producing some of them. So you can be damn sure that there are a lot of bright guys who didn’t get much of a chance in life.

      • john

        Kurt, Uday,

        Leaving asside Hitler(since we should not abandon the concept of gravity if he believe in gravity), there are many modern social scientists which looked at this issue. Richard Lynn, in his book Dysgenics, have documented that most modern societies are in dysgenic trends where well educated people are collectively having fewer kids compared to their illiterate counterparts. Since IQ is mostly genetics and IQ is correlated to education, we can infer that dysgenic trend is on going, Certainly China or the U.S. does not escape from this problem, but I beleive in India this problem is more accute. This does not mean that there are no smart people amongst the poor and destitute. Just talking broadly about trends and statistics for the masses. I also do not mean to say that the poor and dumb does not have values as human beings, just that they fail to add much economic value for the country that is already lacking in resources.

  • Kurt

    You have some true points. The big problem in India is corruption and voting to benefit your social group, but we live in times of changes and this happens all across South Asia that people realize you can vote for someone who capably runs the economy. One major differences between India and China is that in India you can discuss problems and develop solutions. That is especially important in respect to environmental problems and India is better positioned to not have a collapsing agriculture like China.
    Another issue between India and China is that China keeps its money devalued in foreign exchange and thus grows at the expense of India.
    There’s an interesting study on credit and taxes between democracies and authoritarian states in the modern period up to the Second World War. Democracies or governments with representative elements (Japanese Empire was more representative compared to Nazi Germany) have a cutting edge in war because they have the trust of their people who feel represented and entitled. So they are willing to pay more of their income to preserve this situation. Democracies also have the trust of their bankers in lobbying the parliament and thus securing their loans, so the risk is lower and the interests are also lower.
    Extreme nationalism might be able to produce some feeling rather similar to a democracy, but Chinese officials heavy handedness towards disagreement suggests that it’s still a long way to go.

    • below_freezing

      I think you have it backwards. As we saw from the Dalian chemical plant protests, the Shanghai truckers strike, the Hainan strikes, etc. the Chinese government readily adjusts itself and has almost always accepted protestor demands. In fact, there has not been a single major protest within the past 10 years in a major city whose demands were not accepted.

      In rural areas, JUST LIKE IN INDIA, corrupt officials do indeed suppress protests, but the degree of suppression is no different than India at worst.

  • Uday Parmar

    @John: ‘since they come generally from the low end of the IQ gene pool’. That’s a really stupid thing to say. What proof do you have? Is there an in Index reg. this?

    • Ray

      Uday, my interpretation of John’s comments are that India’s demographic advantage over China (one child policy) is not as great as one would assume. A large portion of India’s population advantage comes from the poorer segments of society hence they are disadvantaged in areas of nutrition and education which can lead to lower IQ. Therefore having a less than adequately educated young population base to support can be a burden for India as they will consume resources with adding much value.

  • The reason how China made it was ‘because it didn’t allow any W

  • The reason how China made it was ‘because it didn’t allow any Western influence and when China was ready to influence its own growth on the West than China appeared international for the W’

  • How China made it ‘was because it didn’t allow any Western influence and when China was ready to influence its own growth on the West than China appeared international for the West to see and thus influenced itself upon the West’.Nice logic Huh?!

  • Sam

    After reading all, I can say for one thing that China has leaped (Great Leap) ahead this time and that is because it had it’s policies chalked out, planned and executed well in advance, only because it was and is an authoritarian rule whereby, there is/are no challanges from any quarters like India faces within it’s fragmented and coalition government and democracy. Democracy works very well in fully developed countries due to it’s literacy rate and highly developed infractructure and GDP growth rate, but unfortunately for India to leap ahead with it’s so called democratic norms with dilapidated infrastructure, low literacy rate and imporverished mass is like an ant trying to pull a cart with an elephant in it. The developed and other well-to-do economic countries may applaude India for it’s freedom and democratic norms, but what does India get out of such empty accolades, NOTHING but misery. I guess the world was trying to democratize China hook or by crook, one way or another but could not, look at the tianamen square episode for example, what happened? Authoritarian triumphed and today the same world looks towards China for goods and funding, they also look up at China with awe and fear and to some extent with respect as well, all this due to ‘The Great Chinese Leap of 21st century’. Also the in-born corruption in India and Indian politics makes the theory of free country a JOKE as far as a country so diverse such as India is concerned. I think India needs a ‘selfless’ dictator for a decade then maybe they can talk hard!

    • below_freezing

      There is more freedom in China than in India. It is a fact that social development + money = freedom. Dalits cannot even bicycle in upper caste areas in India, while there are no places off-limits to Chinese today other than military zones. Protesters in China get what they want (Dalian chemical plant protests) while in India, they often just get paid off by corrupt officials who loot them blind and make the payments back 1000 fold later.

    • Ray

      The Tiananmen Square episode did not unfold as the Western media outlets would want you to believe. There was no bloodshed. Once again, the public has been lied to.

      • pappu

        Articles like these provide a lot of fodder for Chinese communist trolls like Sam, below_freezing or Ray. I would say before 1980s India was on a relatively upward looking trajectory vis a vis China but China liberalized earlier than India and also has followed through with ruthless efficiency which counts for something. Literacy levels, stress of labour intensive manufacturing and women’s’ participation in the workforce have allowed China to maintain a rapid growth rate. However so far, China has reaped the benefits of Globalization. We will see how Chinese growth hits the middle income trap soon.

        India’s challenges remain enormous but that does not mean that democracy is a failure. What has happened in India is that an ideal system was envisaged to run the country. But those people who were entrusted to run the country with honesty were gradually replaced by corrupt crooks and mafia like organizations. This undermined and even suppressed the voice of intelligentsia and middle class gradually lost interest in country’s development. All this has changed with globalization and advent of social media. There is a far more social mobility in new urban India and social media has successfully broken old taboos. The more India spreads it’s broadband and mobile network, the more dividends it will reap in the coming future. Democracy thrives in an environment of open communication. As far as commanding respect and soft power projection in the world, India commands considerable influence in western psyche compared to Chinese soft power. China also has absolutely zero influence over India (in soft power terms). America is a much better role model for India to emulate in the future. China’s path towards material development is unsustainable in the long term.

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