China and India

Visiting China is always a thought provoking experience for me. What has happened in that country in the last 7 years — when I visited for the first time — and now is a miracle and according to all indications, this is likely to not only continue but accelerate.

Ranging from infrastructure development, that made it better than most countries in the world (at least in the parts that I have seen) to education (where from almost zero number of research papers from China to a sizable number in every conference and journal), progress in at stupendous speed. When I compare this to other developing countries, including India, this is impressive as well as puzzling.

A question that keeps coming to my mind is, why can China make such progress while India’s progress in these areas is almost insignificant in comparison to China?

I feel that every society has to make some important choices. Some important parameters that play important role in human society are economic well being, educational level, human rights and freedom, cultural diversity, religious freedom, political system, and national progress. Clearly all these parameters are intertwined and affect each other significantly. But each must optimize a combination of these parameters, or the performance index (PI). And each society selects there weighted combination of the above. Like every other system, each society’s state at any time is then governed by their selected PI. It appears to me that in the near past China selected their PI that weighs economic well being and education as much more important than other things. And India is struggling with selection of their PI.

A very interesting thing that I find that how fast a country progresses in strongly correlated (negatively) to how much importance it gives to religious and cultural preservation. Politicians are very good in exploiting religion and culture because most people are passionate about these. A good look at current socio-economic situation in the world shows a strong (negative) correlation between religiousness of a country and its progress.

I love India. It bothers me, therefore, that the society seems to be much more religious now then in 1960s when I was growing up there. Yes, India has made good progress and possibly economically India is in the best situation now than any other time in the last 200 years. But when one thinks at what has happened in many other Asian countries (not only China, but also in Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Malayasia, and soon in Vietnam) and compares current Indian situation to what could be, it becomes very depressing. And sitting in this wonderful lounge at Beijing Airport, and comparing this to the lounges in the Mumbai or Delhi Airports, this thought is obvious.

One thought on “China and India

  1. Sachin

    A pretty thought provoking piece, Professor Jain. I love India as well and if the mind set of the country as a whole does not change we’re going to continue to see religion used as an excuse to impede progress.

    However I would not juxtapose China and India or quite frankly China with any other country. I’d rather embrace religion and deal with horrendous conditions at the Mumbai and Delhi airports than live in a suppressed society with “big brother” watching over me 24/7.

    However I do appreciate your point – South Korea or Japan perhaps would be a fair comparison IMO.

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