It is inevitable. The rate at which the economies of India and China are growing, it is time that one of them is crowned the undisputed global leader.
INDIA - A resilient and vibrant democracy, a multicultural nation with a complex mix of race, religion, caste and language and a rich artistic heritage that can be excavated all the way back to Harappa. Five million cellphones sold in the last month. GDP touching 10 per cent, sensex flirting with the 20,000 point mark, Indian computer scientists forming the bulk of Silicon Valley, IIT trained engineers working all over the world
and also finding time to appear in Dilbert comics. Well, it is spring time in India.
On the other had, we have China. The story of superlatives here is not just restricted to the population figures. The largest and most modern stock exchange - Shanghai Stock Exchange; tallest TV tower (Shanghai) and the longest Olympic torch relay ever all the way to the Mt Everest. Well, China has been delivering and the whole world is taking notice.
Rapid economic growth, global trading ties, and expanding diplomatic cooperation have pushed China to the first rank of nations. The Chinese economy has been growing at 9.67 per cent since 1978. In 2006, it reached a staggering 10.7 per cent. China’s research and development budget has been growing at 20 per cent every year since 1999. In 2006, it was the second highest investor in research and development after the United States. The 2008 Beijing Olympics - the biggest sporting spectacle ever will be an occasion of pride and celebration for the Chinese.
Indian economy has seen a fairy tale ride since 1991. Post the economic reforms that led to liberalisation, globalisation and privatisation, India
has become an attractive business
destination for investors the world over. The booming IT, retail and entertainment
industries are being lauded by the Western nations. It is clear that India is the place where the entire world wants to be.
The joint potential of these two Asian giants, commonly referred to as Chindia, is enormous. The camaraderie of these two nations if it becomes of the nature of Jai and Veeru could spell doom for the Britain-United States alliance. But gone are the days of the ‘Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai
’, which was coined by the late Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru
. Post the bloodshed of 1962 there has been insecurity and apprehension all around. Hu Jintao’s visit to India last year sent ripples of unease. Chinese ambassador to India, Sun Yuxi claimed that Arunachal Pradesh
was entirely a Chinese territory. The quibbles about the McMohan line and the Indo China border seem anachronistic.
But in this golden era, the problems plaguing both these countries are quite similar. Poverty, as it stands, is the biggest hurdle for these two countries. The World Hunger Index of IFPRI (International Food Policy Research Institute) ranks India at an abysmal 94th rank out of 118 countries, just above Ethiopia and worse than any country in the sub continent save Bangladesh. China ranks 48.
The social record of these two countries is also nothing to boast off. On the United Nations Human Development Index, India ranks a poor 128th, whereas China is a tag better at 81.
Corruption can easily hamper the growth of these two countries. A survey of the Centre for Media Studies shows that 80 per cent of all Indians pay petty bribes totalling a whooping $ 4.8 billion for services they are entitled to. No wonder that the Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International ranks India and China a joint 72nd. A third of the World’s diabetics are found in China and India. Pollution wise too, China has overtaken United States as the largest emitter of carbon dioxide. The Beijing Olympic athletes are delaying their arrival to Beijing because of the polluted atmosphere.
The vision of the future of these two countries should be to bring a greater awareness of their cultural and spiritual strength which formed the bedrock of their past achievements and should lay the foundation of their future accomplishments. The Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal
, both wonders of the world stand as a tribute to their ancient architectural prowess.
One of the Chinese ministers had recently said in the Media, that this is not a rabbit tortoise story where the Rabbit (China) will go off to sleep and let the Tortoise (India) overtake them. The competition and rivalry between these two countries is definitely heating up as they begin their ascent towards becoming an undisputed global super power. From a neutral perspective, it would be safe to say that China has won the sprint whereas India has been gearing up for the marathon.