India and China
Open any newspaper or magazine, or click on an blog or news site. There will be an article comparing India and China, even Amartya Sen seems to think that China’s swift decisive decision making is better than India’s democracy. These articles seem to follow a set pattern. It usually goes like this, first paragraph pays lip service to India’s democracy, followed by a slow sad head shake about China’s authoritarian regime. Then in paragraph two, we are treated to a plethora of statistics showing how China is leaving India in dust, across several key indicators. The article usually ends with a grudging admiration of the strong arm tactics of China’s one party rule.
What is the purpose of these articles? Why compare apples to oranges? China and India are nothing alike. The only similarities that I can see are their massive size and antiquity of their respective civilizations. Is this a subtle hint of what the opinion making elite think the future should be like? Is it my imagination, or do I sense a grudging admiration for China and its tactics. Is China being held as an example to be emulated and India as a sad cautionary tale?
Looking at the statistics on paper, China does seem to be better off than India, right this moment. India’s flaws and shortcomings are out in the open, for everyone to see, but how much do we really know about China? Can we trust the data that the Chinese government allows to get out?
I take all the projections about China with a grain of salt, since the past is not the best predictor of future and history is not a linear regression. After all the tortoise did beat the hare.