[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

India democracy vs Chinese authoritarianism

Please help make the Manifesto better, or accept it, and propagate it!


I found this comparison of India and China very interesting.

The main difference in my view, is that China is far more capabable in terms
of implementing policy decisions.

For example, China has built expressways in Shanghai in record time. While
in India, a few people like Lata Mangeshkar oppose the construction, and the
project is shelved.

China is on track in terms of completing the Three Gorges Dam, while in
India, a few people like Arundhati Roy, are able to have the project

If this is the price for democracy, I don't think it is a price worth worth
paying.  The question is how do we set up a framework in which once policy
decisions are established, they are not derailed by a small but influential
group of individuals.

See article below:

Heart and Head

Shanghai's new construction surges ahead non-stop. This is what the Shanghai
Daily's lead story said: "This year, the city will double its expenditure on
urban construction compared with the 2000 level.An estimated USD 6.31
billion will be spent on 76 projects this year, including new railway lines
and expressways and the final stages of an effort to clean up the Suzhou

All this happens even as we in Mumbai struggle to build a single
Worli-Bandra sea link to ease traffic congestion. The essential difference
can be seen in the efforts to build a road on top of the existing Peddar
Road in Mumbai. There were howls of protests from local residents, including
Lata Mangeshkar, who petitioned that the pollution because of the second
road would affect her voice. The plan is now on hold, or perhaps scrapped.
That's the essential difference between Shanghai and Mumbai, between China
and India. One nation decides and does, the other seeks public opinion and

Or so it may seem. India's democratic underpinnings can be a source of pain
at times like these. Action is required to move ahead rapidly.But ask any
Indian and not a single one will want to sacrifice the freedom that exists
at every level of our society and culture. Rather than being critical of
where we are and what we are doing, we need to look at the brighter side of
things. Mumbai has seen 50-odd flyovers constructed in the past few years.
India is having a spate of expressways being built as part of the Golden
Quadrilateral Project. Look at the malls sprouting up in the metros and the
second-tier cities in India. Software Services and Business Process
Outsourcing will continue India's ascendance in the IT-enabled services
segment. The challenge for us lies in using India's strengths to build the
new India. (See: Envisioning a New India)

As Manjeet Kripalani wrote it in her BusinessWeek.com article:

  I think of my native city of Bombay, Shanghai's counterpart in India. It's
old, it's grubby and crumbling -- but it's also cosmopolitan, pulsating, and
vibrant. The chaos is creative. That's where the software miracle comes
from. Bombay, I think, has heart and soul.
And then I realized something: I felt little heart and soul in Shanghai.
Shanghai was all head, and the head works. The soul may be there, but to a
first-time visitor the glitter and consumerism dominate.

India needs a forward-looking attitude like China's -- the vision of the
future that shows, through the construction of great cities and efficient
factories, what heights the Middle Kingdom can reach. And China needs people
like India's -- willing to sleep without electricity at night in houses
without running water in sole exchange for the right to criticize their
government and exercise their vote.

Maybe someday, in both countries, the two great strengths of Asia -- heart
and head -- will meet.

It is not heart versus head. It is about heart and head. The world needs
both. It is up to the entrepreneurs in the two countries to build the

This is the National Debate on System Reform.       debate@indiapolicy.org
Rules, Procedures, Archives:            http://www.indiapolicy.org/debate/