China & India take aim at Western markets

Category: World Affairs Topics: China, India, United States Of America Views: 3971

Not so long ago, it was common wisdom that China and India were getting dragged down by their huge populations. But numbers are proving to be their biggest economic asset, providing huge domestic markets and an inexhaustible labour force for exportable products.

This prompted the head of Intel Corp. to say that the two Asian giants are out to eat America's lunch. He could have added that they may have similar intentions toward Canada, Europe and others.

Craig Barrett, CEO of the world's largest computer chip maker, sees the tectonic economic shifts under way and sighs: "I worry for the U.S. and I worry for my grandchildren."

He is dazzled not only by the energy and enterprise of the Chinese and the Indians but the quality of their work, especially India's software engineers. Which is why India is Intel's third largest operation, after America and Israel.

China is, of course, way ahead in the economic race. But India is brimming with self-confidence on its unique set of assets. Besides democracy, it boasts:

  • The largest skilled workforce, of 472 million, most of them literate and English-speaking.

  • The second-largest pool of scientists.

  • A hi-tech medical sector, already attracting more than 100,000 foreign patients a year - Arabs avoiding America, and Europeans avoiding long waiting lists at home.

  • A solid manufacturing base, turning out, among other things, the world's largest output of motorbikes and three-wheelers.

  • The largest railway network, including a just-opened, indigenous $2 billion subway in New Delhi, the capital.

  • An information technology sector, which has grown 40 times in a dozen years to $20 billion a year and is poised to cut into the coming boom in software services, from the $650 billion worldwide today to $3 trillion in five years.

More than these economic indicators, though, something more profound is underway, five decades after independence.

India was stripped clean under British rule, its vast riches plundered and its manufacturing capacity squashed.

Independent India's economy, therefore, had to be built almost entirely by the state. Socialist the model was, but it did lay down a rudimentary national infrastructure.

What's happening now is that the economy is freeing itself of government.

"Permit Raj," wherein most economic sectors depended on the say-so of the ruling party, is dying. Changes in government no longer matter.

In last year's federal election, the left-leaning Congress defeated the so-called free enterprise Bharatitya Janata Party. In this southern state of Andhra Pradesh, the party that pioneered hi-tech got trounced. 

Neither change made a difference to business. India is experiencing its fastest economic growth in 15 years. 

When Jet Airways, the nation's first private airline, was listed on the Mumbai Stock Exchange recently, $350 million of stock was snapped up within minutes. 

Union strikes, which plague Europe, are becoming a thing of the past here as opportunities proliferate.

Meritocracy is taking hold. Gone are the days when the only route to a job was a recommendation from a political bigwig.

Also gone are the Soviet-era suspicions of Westerners and Western governments. It helps that just about everyone has a cousin in North America. Media are thriving.

For example, this city of 6 million, the nation's fifth largest, has 14 daily newspapers - four in English, five in Telugu, two in Hindi and three in Urdu, for a total daily circulation of 3.5 million copies.

There are still problems galore.

The federal budget, tabled last month, allocated huge sums to electrify the 125,000 villages that still aren't, bring drinking water to the 74,000 villages that don't have it, and provide land phone lines to 66,822 villages that have no connection.

But the economic revolution is well underway, without the tyranny that still marks China.

Haroon Siddiqui is the Toronto Star's editorial page editor emeritus. [email protected]

  Category: World Affairs
  Topics: China, India, United States Of America
Views: 3971

Related Suggestions

The opinions expressed herein, through this post or comments, contain positions and viewpoints that are not necessarily those of IslamiCity. These are offered as a means for IslamiCity to stimulate dialogue and discussion in our continuing mission of being an educational organization. The IslamiCity site may occasionally contain copyrighted material the use of which may not always have been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. IslamiCity is making such material available in its effort to advance understanding of humanitarian, education, democracy, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, and such (and all) material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

Older Comments:
India should be congratulated for the success of above 6% GDP growth. But "there is more to life than GDP."

According to its finance minister: "India is not a poor country, yet, a significant [close to 300million, nearly half of its children under four are malnourished] proportion of our people are poor."

Second, the high GDP growth has also seen the destruction of Indian-values and ethos. By coping everything Western and going all out for the corrosive Western and materialistic cultural influences, India has lost in the process a lot more than it bargained for - and not just the loss of tolerance and harmony, but much more.

Is the economic revolution in India better than China? Yes. But not necessarily because of the so-called "democracy card", nor is it due to India's self-perception as a "secular" country. India is "shining" because she still has a reservoir of intelligent and hard-working people and non-resident-Indians determined to improve their economic lot. And because, the quality of her leadership has improved, although corruption is still a big problem in India. And most of all, India is "shining" because she is in better light with the West, particularly, America, who wants India to be the "Balance-of-Power" against China.


this site is very good! for kids! and especially!!for non-muslims!!...

Well, you can't keep demographically growing nations marginalized for ever! One day they will turn around and bite you in the ass. Meseems it's just happening. Good luck India! Good luck China!

Very soon the US dollar will be good to light cigarettes and candles. I strongly urge all thinking people to invest in gold certificates. The dollar and the US dream are gone. Wake up and smell the coffee.

Arabs, take note your lot are being left behind!!!