Sunday, October 31, 2010

While China has shown the world it has what it takes to be a winner, India hasn't

A few days ago, China unveiled Tianhe-IA, the world’s fastest supercomputer. It is said to be 1.4 times faster than the most sophisticated US supercomputer in Tennessee and 29 million times faster than the first computers produced. India is yet to enter such a league although it has the Centre for Advanced Computing and the Institute of Mathematical Sciences and other premier institutes. The fact once again is that China seems to have overtaken India and the rest of the field after a later entry, something one has come to expect of the Chinese.

Like someone said the other day, once the Chinese enter, they gain a stranglehold fairly quickly and make a mark. Look At the number of Chinese products worldwide today. Whether you are in London, New Jersey, Sydney or Malaysia, chances are that the product you pick up from a shop shelf, no matter what it is, will be a Made in China product. No wonder that at various public forums speakers use the Chinese benchmark while talking about progress needed to be made by India.

While China is almost a world superpower, India continues to be a developing country. Take the World Prosperity Index released a day ago. Apparently, India has fallen many steps to rank No. 88; China is at 58 or thereabouts. The top three are Scandinavian nations – Norway, Denmark, Finland… As I have mentioned in my previous blogs, education, health care, infrastructure are areas that just cannot be ignored when you are talking of development and wish to be counted among the top league of nations. Sadly, very sadly, despite all our scientific knowledge and expertise, software skills and human resources, we still don’t have proper roads in our cities, no clean drinking water, no proper sewerage system, no integrated transport system… the list can go on and on.

On top it, we are riddled with corruption, so much so that corruption has almost become a way of life in India. The frightening aspect, like Vir Sanghvi points out in his column, is that corruption is today not confined to politicians and wheeler dealers alone; even bureaucrats, defence personnel and respectable people (read about the Adarsh Housing Society scam in Mumbai and you’ll know) don’t mind greasing palms to get things done.

Read what Sunanda K. Dutta Ray writes in The Telegraph, while dwelling on President Obama’s India visit (only excerpts):

India, soon be the world’s most populous country, with 50 per cent of its people under 25, while much of the industrialized world is ageing, may have a role in Obama’s vision, which does not conflict with the Look East policy. But no one mentioned this until high growth promised to match internal resilience with external aspirations. That was Lee Kuan Yew’s hope way back in the 1960s when he expected India would replace Britain in Southeast Asia. But an India that trails Togo in the world poverty stakes and has more poor people in eight states than in the 26 sub- Saharan African countries will fail Obama as it failed Lee. Indians who claim to prize democracy as an ideal and an end in itself might squirm to hear the US under-secretary of state for political affairs, William Burns, say that democracy “can foster economic development”…

… There is a gnawing sense of dissatisfaction here that, however highly India might be rated as a regional force, Americans treat China like a global power. There is less appreciation of the importance China achieved even before acquiring a stranglehold on US Federal Reserves, by supplying the inexpensive consumer goods — shoes, ready-mades, domestic appliances — that cut American living costs and sustained the standard of living…

… India can meet the challenge by unleashing the collective creativity of its people so that wealth is not concentrated only in the Ambanis, Mittals, Mallyas and Modis. Deng Xiaoping’s remedy was to “let some people get rich first and then when they get rich, they will move the whole society and the rest will follow”. Perhaps that formula will work in India too.

We can only keep hoping that our democracy will finally work for us. You can almost visualise the Chinese smiling...

1 comment:

raja rajendra said...

Great piece. Well done. Challenge with India is Indian. We have a unique trait called as CHALTA HAI or Juggad culture. It does not have any sense of purpose or objectivity.

That is the threat we have, which is internal and not from other countries.