Two Giant Shows!
The two Asian giants—Indian and China are undoubtedly the force to reckon with, after their long hibernation out of plundering colonial setbacks, these two nations are now retrieving their civilisational glory. With many commonness and of course differences, relation between India-China stands on antagonistic constructs—historically very close until the defiance of trust done by China in 1962 that permanently fixed a big if in the psyche of Indians. Though with enhanced aspirations in new world order, both India and China are constructively heading to defy all the adverse obstinate impediments with wider framework to usher in a special kind of relationship primarily based on economic interests. Indeed it’s a way forward to cope with the swiftly changing geo-politics—time now is to revisit the history, politics, economics and culture of these two superpower with new insights but without burying the old prudence.
Raghav Bahl (Journalist, founder Network18 Media) did this superbly with his scintillating views and meticulous documentation that easily lead the readers to comprehensive realities of the race of dominance between the two powerful neighbors. This book, (SUPERPOWER? The Amazing Race between China’s Hare and India’s Tortoise) presents the narratives, how India and China going to make a history within their own set of rules. China’s monolithic political system and India’s vibrant democracy—both with their pros and cons are occupying stout functional feet to show the resistance at global platform. Preface marks the distinction of Indian growth which is statistically more sluggish than China’s achievements, title says it better, why don’t they get India?
Prologue of the book has demystifying hold, China and the Art of Escape Velocity? Napoleon’s quote which is an all time super remarks, vehemently define China and its inclusion completely fit here. Paul Krugman’s The Myth of Asia’s Miracle: A Cautionary Fable gives an ample back up for consideration on Raghav’s insistence on knowing closely the intricacies of Chinese miracle vis-à-vis the leaders of world economy. Albeit, it will be overestimation to anticipate by the assumptions that who’s going to be swift and finally on crest—China’s Hare or India’s Tortoise, here is the need to be adequately judgmental.
Which way will history turn? Raghav is exactly right in reminding the readers that history unfolds over several decades, perhaps even in fractions of centuries and a search for a perfect match of growth between these two countries will be an abrupt proposition. If China rebounded post financial meltdown with huge debt and vicious deflation side-by-side the weak demand and prices, where as India’s experience was much better with lower debt and modest inflation. It will be also worthwhile to know that India’s nominal GDP grew twice as fast as China’s for a few quarters remarkably, it’s first such experience in last three decades. So, the notion of India, who seems eroding with a positive world view for India story. Goldman Sach’s brainchild, BRIC (2001) strengthened the world views for India’s slot only next to USA and China in the years ahead—this sounds realistic, even when the author himself acknowledges the many odds in the way but China is also not immune from adversities. For knowing better the fragility of Chinese growth, reading of Prem Shankar Jha’s scripture like work on China Managed Chaos gives the appropriate scenic realities behind the China’s miraculous growth!
Though this book adequately covers the India’s landmarks in foreign and strategic affairs, it scrimps few detailed take on China’s potential role in India-Pakistan &India-Nepal relation. China’s cold war era complexes are hardly fading away despite the all progress, it should be the India’s primary concern to leverage China for an all round collaboration because it’s China which tolls around half of India’s strategic attention. India know much better that the tag of “Sleeping Tiger” is things of past for China under the new ambition and feeble moral restraint.
At some front, China has the edge but it’s grappling with many serious systemic flaws unlike India where democracy is vibrant and freedom of action is inherent. Years ahead will be very vital to both India and China— these two nations are now naturally placed to lead the world, if these two nations can collaborate in fresh spirits, their dominance will be enhanced many folds. More and more of understanding of Chinese policies are needed. Work of Raghav Bahl is promising in this regard—addition of knowledge on China will remain worthwhile from Indian perspectives— after all, we are now aspiring for new dimensions in our relationship.
By Atul Kumar Thakur