Chris Devonshire-Ellis wrote a convincing piece at China Briefing back in October 2010 that India‘s economic growth would speed past China in the near future. It seems that many in the West are convinced that democracies are superior to countries ruled by authoritarian governments.
Chris said, “It (India’s) growth rate could overtake China’s by 2013… Some economists think India will grow faster than any other large country over the next 25 years.”
However, several years later, we discover that Chris was wrong. In February 2014, the BBC reported, “India’s economy growth slower than expected.” During the four years starting with 2010 through 2013, China’s GDP grew from $4.99 Trillion to $8.23 Trillion compared to India’s growth from $1.365 Trillion in 2010 to $1.8417 Trillion by the end of 2013.
The foundation of this prediction was based on India being a democracy “where entrepreneurs are all furiously doing their own thing” while China is a culture of secrecy and censorship. Chris mentions a few of China’s other flaws too, which China is working to overcome.
What Chris doesn’t mention is the fact that economic development in India follows socialist policies including state-ownership of many sectors—something China learned long ago doesn’t work, and then there’s the difference in poverty and illiteracy between India and China.
India and China both became independent about the same time—China in 1949 and India in 1947 and due to Chairman Mao’s policies, China suffered horribly from 1949 to 1976 and progress was slow. Than Mao died and China changed dramatically.
India, on the other hand, has had more than 60 years to solve its problems and hasn’t made much progress primarily because it is a democracy often mired in political partisanship and corruption. India is actually rated more corrupt than China but we don’t hear much about that.
Let’s see what each has accomplished in reducing illiteracy and poverty.
The World Bank says, “That China’s record of poverty reduction and growth is enviable. Between 1981 and 2004 the fraction of the population consuming less than a dollar-a-day fell from 65% to 10% and more than half a billion people were lifted out of poverty.”
For India, the World Bank reports: “poverty remains a major challenge. According to the revised official poverty line, 37.2% of the population (about 410 million people remains poor, making India home to one-third of the World’s poor people.” UNICEF shows the poverty in India to be 42%.
World Bank studies also established the direct and functional relationship between literacy and productivity on the one hand and literacy and the overall quality of human life on the other.
India’s literacy rate was about 12% when the British left in 1947. Today, literacy is 68%.
When Mao died in 1976 after a decade of suffering through twenty-seven years of mostly wrong-headed reforms ending with the Cultural Revolution, less than 20% of the people were literate, but today literacy is more than 93% with a goal to reach 99% soon.
As for India succeeding, MeriNews.com says, “At a time when we (India) are poised on the threshold of becoming a superpower, the rampant malnutrition and prevalence of anemic children and women to the extent of 48 per cent of the population is a definitive indicator that we have failed as a democracy in ensuring the fundamental requirements of our citizens.”
It appears that China—with censorship, secrecy and its one party government with a capitalist, market, consumer driven economy—has done a much better job of taking care of its people. India, on the other hand, has six national political parties and 54 political parties at the state level. Considering that America has two national political parties that can’t agree on much of anything, it’s a wonder that India gets anything accomplished.
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.
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