As recently as 2006, when I first visited India and China, the economic race was on, with heavy bets being placed on which one would win the developing world sweepstakes.

Many Westerners fervently hoped that a democratic country would triumph economically over an autocratic regime.

Now the contest is emphatically over. China has lunged into the 21st century, while India is still lurching toward it.

That’s evident not just in columns of dry statistics but in the rhythm and sensibility of each country. While China often seems to eradicate its past as it single-mindedly constructs its future, India nibbles more judiciously at its complex history.

Visits to crowded Indian urban centers unleash sensory assaults: colorful dress and lilting chatter provide a backdrop to every manner of commerce, from small shops to peddlers to beggars. That makes for engaging tourism, but not the fastest economic development. In contrast to China’s full-throated, monochromatic embrace of large-scale manufacturing, India more closely resembles a nation of shopkeepers.

To be sure, India has achieved enviable success in business services, like the glistening call centers in Bangalore and elsewhere. But in the global jousting for manufacturing jobs, India does not get its share.

Now, after years of rocketing growth, China’s gross domestic product per capita of $9,146 is more than twice India’s. And its economy grew by 7.7 percent in 2012, while India expanded at a (hardly shabby) 5.3 percent rate. Read more…

Steven Rattner, a long-time Wall Street financier, led the restructuring of the auto industry in 2009 as counselor to the Treasury secretary under the Obama administration.

As published in www.nytimes.com on January 19, 2013 (a version of this article appeared in print on 01/20/2013, on page SR12 of the NewYork edition with the headline: India Is Losing The Race).


Fred Bosick January 26, 2013 - 8:44 am

“To be sure, India has achieved enviable success in business services, like the glistening call centers in Bangalore and elsewhere.”

That’s not due to technical excellence, but cheapness, that US executives have exploited.

anthonydavis February 1, 2013 - 7:27 am

Education system in each of these countries vary from each other. Indian students with strong basics when they move abroad for their high school education will find the initial classes very simple and easy.

nelson brown February 15, 2013 - 8:41 am

Development of all countries related to their management and politics.
when 1 dollar being released by upper authority, only 1% reach to the needed. other 99% vanish during journey of development.
so well said that, “No corruption, High development”
No need to say much. Anyone can understand with my this post.
But at last India is a beauty.
thanks for this lovely post Ángeles.

harpat February 22, 2013 - 5:02 am

The race is pretty much over I think. India is likely to remain stuck in poverty and could actually decline rapidly. The large population and lack of resources are the fundamental stumbling blocks. Corruption does not help and cannot be rooted out because of the fractured political system which forces the ruling party to tolerate corruption to hold the coalition together. The call center and IT based export industry appear to be saturating and there is danger of obliterating the current account without which the import of electronic equipment and energy resources cannot be financed. India needs a technocrat who understands the benefits as well as the limitations of technology in the context of India’s overpopulation and lack of resources and best utilize the abundance of manpower. A demographic advantage is no advantage if it cannot be utilized. China may have some slight temporary set backs due to the one child policy but in the long run it will turn out to be extremely beneficial.

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