Anadi Naik

With the largest population, China is the second largest economy. In many ways India thinks itself as a competitor to China. In spite of the second largest population on earth, India’s economy is nowhere near China’s. This is the biggest problem India faces. Politically, India is light years ahead of China. India’s judicial system and political openness remains an ambitious goal for many nationals including the Chinese. But it is the economic development that matters the most. While meeting the basic needs of the population Chinese policy makers over the years have done a better job than their counterparts in India.

For an entire generation from 1948 to mid - 1970s China concentrated on developing itself. In many ways, it remained isolated and insular. Under the pretense of being “nonaligned” at the same time China also courted developing countries. By being outside the United Nations it had no voice in world affairs but continued to work tirelessly to promote its stature among the community of nations. When it was finally admitted to the General Assembly of the UN it also became a member of the Security Council – a big advantage over other nations. Now India is trying to be a member there. And other countries also are making the same demand. India has to contend with them.

Last week Communist China selected its new set of managers led by its Party Secretary Xi Jinping. In spite of all its capitalistic behavior abroad it remains committed to Communism. Such a political maneuvering leaves little room for political flexibility at home. In recent months several high profile corruptions have surfaced and they could be the direct result of unbridled power concentrated in a few hands supported by the Party hierarchy. Prime Minister Wen Jiabao‘s family is said to have acquired immense wealth compared to ordinary citizens. Bo Xilai, the political boss of the Chongquing province sits in jail and his wife Bo Killai is in prison, convicted of killing a business man. There are many other incidents big and small that show the massive weakness in the system. That is why in his maiden speech as China’s new leader Xi has taken considerable time in talking about corruption in China. What the situation in China proves is that the brand of an ideology is not enough to keep its managers honest. Before the fall of the regime, the elite of Soviet Russia were living high and spreading corruption initiated by the State. Now it is the turn of the elite in Chine. The elite have money and enjoy a comfortable life and its children attend American and European universities.

It seems like both India and China could outdo each other in the spread of corruption. In India’s case, Anna Hazare and his followers are making an effort to root out corruption from public life. Because India is a democracy, initiatives taken at the grassroots level are not offensive to people in power. However, it is different in China. Ideological plurality in politics is neither encouraged nor accepted. However, in the age of the Internet such a mindset causes problems. China is trying to face the reality with pain. In a way it is searching for itself. It is a big economic power but many aspecst of its life is stuck like a developing country. It is practicing capitalism of the highest order but does not want to part with Communism and cannot afford to practice the openness that a real democracy needs. It is losing its grip on its neighbors because of being afraid of its highhandedness they are coming together under an American umbrella. Then there is Tibet.

At a time like this India wants to solve its border dispute with China. But given China’s internal turmoil it cannot afford to give in too much. Indian policy makers on their part have to leave a lot of jingoism behind and understand the minds of the Chinese. It is not what India wants but what China can realistically afford to lose must be factored into the equation. China also knows that as the second largest economy it has a lot more clout than any of its competitors. India therefore needs to concentrate more on itself both economically and emotionally.

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