Kanan Jaswal's Blog on Leadership

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Choosing between India and China

Last evening I attended in New Delhi a discussion on ‘India and the West : The Future Geopolitical Landscape’. There, a member of an international think-tank, who had been a part of the George W. Bush White House team, said that whereas China was far ahead of India in hard infrastructure like airports, all-season motorable roads, network of railway, modern ports, bridges, and power plants, India’s lead lay in soft infrastructure like democratic form of government, freedom of the individual and of the press, independent judiciary and a well-established system of jurisprudence. He further said and I quote with my strong agreement and approval, “In ten years’ time, given the 8 to 9% annual growth, India can build for itself a great hard infrastructure. But China, even with the best will in the world, will take many more decades to develop a soft infrastructure comparable to India’s. And a nation’s prosperity is built on both hard and soft infrastructures.”

I can almost hear my Indian readers' howls of protest, after all haven’t we all at different times condemned our so-called soft infrastructure for all our ills? But we should try to see it from the perspective of an impartial foreigner, who knows both the countries rather well. But I don't want to give the impression that I would like to leave this soft infrastructure as it is. No, I shall have it amended, improved, strengthened, made more effective and real. I shall also have this country giving itself a very strong and dependable hard infrastructure. And why not? Because I am sworn to work for my country’s well-being and prosperity.

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