Comparison of India and China is the flavour of the time while talking business and growth in India these days (well – even I have a project on that for this term).
Despite the optimism surrounding India’s position and growth, the comparison with China almost always spoils the fun. They seem to have done everything earlier. Their reforms started in late 70s, unlike our early 90s. Their institution building was much more robust, they get much larger FDI and they have even made a smooth transition from a state-property to private property regime.
So, now does India have any advantage at all in comparison to China, if we are to start the race today. Or must we depend on the hope that we will be able to cover all these grounds despite starting from a comparatively disadvantageous situation.
In some sense this sense of lagging behind is good. It prevents us from becoming complacent. And as one famous car-advertisement had declared – “We are number two, we try harder”.
Still, knowledge of one’s strengths is as important as the knowledge of one’s wekanesses. We do have a great, great advantage over China. And this advantage is our robust democracy. Something we take for granted, but if we see the history of nations, this is not a very obvious state of affairs that a country should be able to establish a highly egalitarian democracy right from the inception of the system and also maintain it through out the history. Pakistan and Nepal are not the only cases in point, how long and what cost did it take in the US for blacks to get voting rights? And women? Despite all it inadequacies, and faults and problems, our stable democracy is a big asset!
The state of affairs in China can be illustrated from the following piece of recent news –
To quote from the above
China set new regulations on Internet news content on Sunday, widening a campaign of controls it has imposed on other Web sites, such as discussion groups.
And also this
From the above
Bloggers, who are now also required to register with the government…
While certain words such as “democracy” are banned in online chat rooms…
Such an online crackdown challenges China’s emerging sphere of personal opinion blogs, or online diaries, as well as Nasdaq-listed Chinese web portals such as Sina.com and Sohu.com, which have become centers of often free-ranging discussion among China’s urban elite.
And there might be more, which are not known (with certainty) to the outside world. In some sense, this totalitarian regime has facilitated the faster “reforms”, because there weren’t those objections to be (legally) overcome from hundreds of parties, thousands of activist groups and numerous PILs and cases.
But this isn’t sustainable for sure. Someday, this oppresionist policies will backfire. What that will result in, nobody knows. But the element of risk certainly increases manyfold because of this.
True, we are moving compratively slowly, but that also means that we are moving ahead, not to look back!