The Chinese Complex: Why The Comparison?

Posted on July 22, 2011 in GlobeScope

By Rahul Singh:

No sooner than the news of Jiaozhou Bay Bridge, the world’s longest bridge, hit the internet that there were a barrage of comments all over the place about India’s incompetence and how a Bandra- Worli Sea link took us ages to finalise and build and China has completed this in 4 years.

The reasons for all these comments are in the deep lying anger of the public against the recent scams and corruption revelations and the feeling of inferiority complex to China. Every nationalistically aware Indian every once in a while thinks “Why can’t we be like China?” “Why can’t our cities be as clean, well developed and affluent as in China, why can’t our projects be completed on time?”

Mr. Kapil Sibal, when asked about this simply said, “We are a democracy!” But is that it? Should we lose all hope and give up. Mr. Sibal’s answer is correct to a certain level. Yes our systems are different and so the methods to achieve this development must be different but we can certainly get there. But comparisons between the two countries are not fair because China started its economic reforms much before India and in a planned manner. But still there are some grave issues about our system which need to be addressed for the growth to continue. All sorts of economic reforms can be introduced but there is a major factor that we are lacking.

Intent. There is a lack of intent in us, in the people who are responsible for the growth of the country as well as there is a lack of political will which is the driver of growth. Every time a major infrastructure building is required it is inevitably delayed, be it the Commonwealth Games or the Cricket World Cup stadiums, especially the Eden Gardens fiasco. Sometimes there are problems in getting the paperwork done, sometimes in official clearances and sometimes due to constant procrastination by the people involved in the construction. Similar inefficiency is present while applying reform policies. Very good policies exist but have not been implemented properly due to lack of intent and obviously, corruption on the part of officials.

China’s development obviously lies in their economic policies, reforms and the subsequent capital accumulation. But there is also another major reason. A sharp sustained increase in productivity due to improved worker efficiency. Productivity gains have overtaken capital as the major source of China’s growth. That is due to the presence of a sense of nation building everywhere and the strict government implementation. It is heartening that we are starting to inculcate this sense of pride in the country’s growth slowly.

There will always be challenges. Every path of development has its own drawbacks. The Chinese model is also not perfect. Growing human rights violation allegations, rampant corruption, widening gap between elite and poor are all causing hindrances. But the Chinese are tackling these and continuing to grow rapidly. Similarly we need to tackle our own demons and make sure that they do not cause problems to our growth. We need to let go of our obsession of GDP and GNP numbers. As noble laureate Dr. Amartya Sen said we should focus on the welfare of people, increase literacy, life expectancy, etc. and reduce infant mortality rate, polio patients, etc. This will automatically result in efficient utilisation of human resources and work towards growth. A vibrant youth and strong reform policies combined with factors like well developed financial markets are driving us forward. We need to be committed to the cause and not get into comparisons with China. The sceptics of China say that unbalanced growth may lead to their decline. We also have our own sceptics but we have to prove them wrong and make sure that “Mera Bharat Mahaan” remains true always.