Comparing India and China’s Economic Engines

The cover for The Economist of October 2 – 8, 2010, is betting on a race that cannot be won by India.

I opened the magazine and read the two pieces that the cover was about.  One is about India’s surprising economic miracle and the second piece was A bumpier but freer road.

On page 11, I read, “many observers think China has done a better job than India of curbing corruption…”

On page 77, a Western banker was quoted saying, “It’s much easier to deal with the well-understood ‘org chart’ of China Inc than the freewheeling chaos of India.”

After reading both pieces comparing China with India, it was obvious that India would never beat China economically.

The Economist wants India to win this race, because it is called a democracy as is the U.S., but what isn’t mentioned is that China is becoming a republic with a Chinese twist, which is what Dr. Sun Yat-sen wanted.

The reason The Economist is wrong about India is because America’s Founding Fathers hated democracy and they had a good reason.

The Live Journal goes into detail on this topic.  To quote the Live Journal, “It would be an understatement to say that the (U.S.) Founding Fathers hated democracy. They warned against it vehemently and relentlessly. They equated it – properly – with mob rule.

“in a democracy, two wolves and a sheep take a majority vote on what’s for supper, while in a constitutional republic (which China is becoming), the wolves are forbidden on voting on what’s for supper and the sheep are well armed.…

“The Founders, who hated democracy, gave us a free country (a republic). Our (meaning many Americans) ignorance of history, which has lead to a love of democracy, is causing us to surrender our freedoms at an alarming rate.”

Dr. Sun Yat-sen (1866 – 1925), known as the father of modern China, said he wanted to model China’s government after America but by combining Western thought with Chinese tradition.

When he said this, it was 1910, and America, by definition, was still a republic. Once you read the two pieces in The Economist, you may understand why India’s democracy cannot beat China’s evolving republic.

This topic is continued (with more details and facts) at India Falling Short


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.

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15 Responses to Comparing India and China’s Economic Engines

  1. […] don’t know where Manjeet Pavarti lives, but I suspect it isn’t outside of the gleaming glass and steel cites such as New […]

  2. […] Manjeet Pavarti, an Indian citizen, challenged my opinions on this subject. It is obvious that Pavarti must be a […]

  3. Sudipto Chakravorty says:

    I liked your blog.. but it seems very China centric.. But as far i know, China is not a trouble for India, but Terrorism is, like its for everyone, even for U.S or China..

    China except one very unfortunate war with us, we dont keep any wrong intentions for them.. alot of media coverages create hysteria in the world public, but most of the youth in India find an opportunity to work in China.. and not to compete but to help Chinese building a Asian centric economy which was handed over to the west past four century.

    We have different civilizations but our problems are same and we have to combat with them first and not with each other…

    Atleast I dont take China as a trouble for India.. Chinese products are also giving occupation to not just millions of Chinese but also to resellers who sale these products within India, which already shows our confidence in China.. even when we have a trade deficit with them..

    • Sudipto Chakravorty,

      Thank you. Yes, it would seem that this Blog is very China centric but that is the goal for this Blog–not to “bash” China, but to write about everything that is Chinese or about China. If you haven’t read the ABOUT page, I suggest you take a look.

      I know that India and China are partners in what Western economists call the BRIC — Brazil, Russia, India and China. Your comment reinforces the knowledge of that partnership. India and China were both victims of the British Empire then both found freedom from Imperial Western domination about the same time and have forged their own path.

      When China’s Admiral Zheng He reached India in the 15th century, I believe he said that China and India had a lot in common.

      • Sudipto Chakravorty says:

        I don’t know how seriously the world takes upon with BRIC nations, but heard about BRIC countries to do business in their own currencies and not in terms of dollars..

        India has become the NO1. Partner of China now, so China needs to show some more gratitude for this because at last its the producer country, and we are the buyers.

      • Sudipto,

        I’ve written of the BRIC (here) more than once. These are the links to two of those posts.

  4. […] Manjeet Pavarti challenged my opinion in a comment to the […]

  5. Manjeet Pavarti says:

    So you made your mind up about the world’s 11th largest economy (4th in PPP) based upon what a photographer told you and two articles in a magazine. I see you did your research then.

    • Manjeet, my reply to your October 16, 01:33 comment will appear in a post on October 22, at 16:00 PST. I’m doing more research beyond the eye-witness facts from a globetrotting, published photojournalist, who has been interviewed by National Geographic Traveler, reviewed in The San Francisco Chronicle (and other media) and two opinionated pieces in The Economist , a magazine established in the UK in 1843, while India was still part of the British Empire.

      You said India is the 11th largest economy. Please provide a link to your source.

      This is what I found and India doesn’t appear on the top 12. Even China is only number 8 on this list.

      Country Growth Rate
      1. Qatar 16.4%
      2. Botswana 14.4%
      3. Azerbaijan 12.3%
      4. Republic of Congo 11.9%
      5. Angola 9.3%
      6. East Timor 7.87%
      7. Liberia 7.53%
      8. China 7.51%
      9. Afghanistan 7.01%
      10. Uzbekistan 7.00%
      11. Turkmenistan 6.96%
      12. Iraq 6.69%


  6. Manjeet Pavarti says:

    Lloyd – question – have you ever actually been to India?

    • No. However, I rely on what I’ve read and heard from people who have. India is a big country and I’m sure that people who even live there have not visited it all since it is so difficult to travel from state to state.

      Yet, Tom Carter has been to one third of India and plans to visit the other two thirds. I’d rather rely on his observations and knowledge.

      However, he isn’t my only source.

      If you read the piece in “The Economist”, you would have seen the fact that about 60% of India is literate and China has almost 100% literate.

      I suggest anyone who is reading these comments reads the two pieces in “The Economist” and looks at what India must overcome and achieve to be able to complete with China.

      For a Republic or Democracy to work, the majority of people must be literate enough to understand the issues. With 40% of India illiterate (almost 500 million), there is little change that India can be a successful democracy or republic and compete on an even playing field with a country like China.

      Before India can compete with China, it has to deal with the problems of poverty and illiteracy besides providing an infrastructure that matches what China has built and is still building.

      I do know that educated people in India value education and work hard but there are still many who do not have those privileges and those numbers are large enough to put an anchor on India’s economic growth.

  7. greg says:

    Some Chinese said, only half-jokingly, that in order for India to catch up with China or indeed move forward into a modern society, it needs a Chairman Mao.

    It would take extraordinary knowledge about modern China, both before Mao, during Mao and after Mao, and his impact on China and the psyche of ordinary Chinese to appreciate what this suggestion really means. Let’s just say, you would have to overcome the conventional wisdom of Mao as a ruthless dictator to begin with …

    • India does have Maoist Rebels, which I was told was a movement started by Mao but orphaned by China’s centeral government under Deng Xiaoping after Mao died.

      Mao may have been a great leader for the revolution but he doesn’t have a good record of accomplishment for ruling China. The first few years before the Great Leap Forward worked for those who weren’t shot for being a landowner of drug dealer or a user.

      Historians do say that democracies eventually give way to strong, brutal dictators to curb excesses and crime.

      Some doomsayers predict that the US is headed down that path toward a totalitarian government.

      It would be ironic if China became a more open and freer country while the US went the other way.

  8. Manjeet Pavarti says:

    I think a better perspective sfrom someone who knows and has invested in both countries is here: “Ahead Of The Curve – India’s Growth To Outpace China’s” –
    Some interesting comments on that too.

    • Manjeet Pavarti,

      Tom Carter, the photojournalist of China: Portrait of a People spent two years in China to shoot the photos for his book.

      Last year, he was in India shooting photos for his next project, India: Portrait of a People.

      He said it was easier getting around in China than India. Because of unrest in areas controlled by the Maoists and the dangers from Islamic terrorists, checkpoints from province to province in India cause delays and dangers getting around that do not exist in China.

      In fact, it took him one year to explore one third of India’s provinces. He said union strikes shut everything down without warning and you often find yourself stranded and the infrastructure is horrible – lack of roads is only one problem to deal with. In comparison, he traveled all of China in one year and did it again the second year to make sure he didn’t miss anything.

      He also does not think India will catch up with China soon. His most powerful example is the fact that there is one toilet for every twelve hundred people. He said every province he visited so far, he sees people dropping their pants on busy street corners in big cities and they squat and shit in view of everyone. When he told us this, we were in downtown Berkeley, California and he pointed across the street at a homeless beggar and said in India if he had to go to the bathroom, he would do it right there in front of everyone and leave the pile on the pavement. It’s like a minefield to walk anywhere in an Indian city to avoid stepping in human feces.

      Paul Theroux, in his last book about traveling through India by train, wrote that when he visited India decades earlier, the homeless sleeping on the streets had blankets and now they are so poor they don’t have blankets. You don’t see people sleeping on the streets in China.

      He pointed out that every province is also like visiting another country with a different spoken and written language, which is a problem that does not exist in China where the children all learn to speak and write Mandarin in the public schools.

      While China has problems with Islamic and Tibetan separatists, they do a much better job of controlling the damage but India has little control over the Maoist rebels and Islamic fundamentalists. For example: the bombing of that famous hotel in New Deli.

      India cannot even provide enough water for most of its people and that water shortage is only going to get worse due to global warming. While India has done little to nothing to deal with the looming water shortages and lack of infrastructure to get water to the people, China has been working on that challenge for decades building dams, aqueducts, underground tunnels to move water from the south to the north, etc.

      Tom said another problem is the cast system, which might be illegal on paper since India passed laws against it but it still exists since the people still practice it.

      I suggest anyone who wants to believe the largest (dysfunctional) democracy in the world will grow an economy that will surpass China think again and read the two pieces in The Economist carefully before buying the bridge to the moon the dreaming author of the piece had.

      The flawed theory that a country with an open market democracy has a superior economy is wrong. China, with Emperors, legalism, Confucianism and an imperial foundation still had the largest economy in the world for almost two thousand years. Study America’s economic history and you will discover that the open market, Wild West economy in the U.S. has had many difficulties with economic crashes. The way out of those economic holes has usually been powered by going to war like World War II, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

      The only way India will outpace China’s economy will be if it improves infrastructure and modernizes at the pace that China has been doing. Instead, true to form for democracies, India expects people to do it for themselves, while China with its Confucian foundation believes the government’s responsible is to provide that infrastructure and builds it planning decades in advance.

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