Sunday, April 18, 2010



Comparing the Economies of India and China is to embark on an old puzzle that has fascinated smart people for centuries. Although it is urgent and important to discuss it because China and India are the world's next major powers. It is also important because the two countries have embraced very different models of development.

Looking at the Similarities between the Economies of India and China, both are conscious of their role in the world economy. Both seek to play a bigger political role on the world stage. China is already doing that as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council. Now observing the Differences between the Economies of India and China we see that China is taking tangible but slow steps towards embracing private entrepreneurship. India on the other hand is continuing to struggle with making things easier for multinationals. Although the differences are arguably narrowing, but the first-order effect of all this is still “a big difference”.

In general, FDI has been positive to both the Economies of India and China. It has provided goods and services that did not otherwise exist. It has also introduced competition into moribund sectors.

Both countries have clocked up strong economic growth since 1980, China at a spectacular 9 per cent plus and India at nearly 6 per cent. Both countries have opened up to international trade and capital in the past quarter of a century, decisively in China and more hesitantly in India.

China's per capita GDP growth has averaged 8 per cent in the 25 years since 1980, more than double the growth rate of Indian per capita GDP. Somewhere between 1975 and 1985 China's average income is believed to have surpassed India's. Since then it has kept moving ahead. By 2003 China's per capita GNP was at least 70 per cent higher than that of India's and her economy was more than twice as large as India's. Much of China's growth was powered by labor-intensive manufactured exports, which took the share of manufacturing in GDP to nearly 40 per cent, compared to a mere 16 per cent in India.

Other indicators like living standards were just as decisively in China's favor by the turn of the millennium. China's poverty ratio was less than half India's 35 per cent. Female adult literacy was nearly double India's pathetic 45 per cent. Life expectancy in China was a solid 8 years higher than that in India.

Looking at the future, it is easier to forecast a widening of the existing Economic disparities between China and India than a reduction.