Thanks to the wonders of socialism and communism, China was either at par with or poorer than India for most of the 20th century CE. However, in 1978 China’s luck changed when Deng Xiaoping took over. Deng was a pragmatist, had the capacity to learn and do what needed to be done — make China great again.

In May 2014, when Modi came to power, I was absolutely delighted. India’s moment has come. Modi will do what Deng Xiaoping did for China.

But in about two months by July 2014, I realized that Modi was not Deng. In the years that followed, Modi showed his true colors: a power-crazed autocrat who was a cross between Nehru and Mao. He combined Nehru’s narcissistic self-obsession and general lack of vision, with Mao’s ruthless authoritarianism and disdain for people.

Modi was the amalgam of the worst that India and China had produced — Nehru and Mao.

It did not matter how duped and betrayed I felt after being an ardent supporter of his; what mattered was that India had missed a golden opportunity to lift hundreds of millions of people who are trapped in extreme poverty.

Back in May of this year, I wrote a bunch of tweets which was provoked by comparing the number of airline passenger-trips in India, China and US. (Click on image above to read the tweets.) I am reproducing them here, for the record. Continue reading “Decline”

What Explains China’s Rise? — Part 2

The most concise answer to the question, “What explains China’s rise?” is one word: luck. (On the left, the Chinese character for luck.) Actually luck has been a major factor in the rise of all nations that escaped the grip of poverty.

Economists, starting with the classical economists like David Ricardo and Adam Smith around the mid-18th century, have struggled with explaining the causes of the wealth of nations. All of the various causal factors they and their successors identified are relevant and the question is far from settled, as evidenced by the hundreds of papers and books published every year by serious scholars on the subject of economic development, growth and progress. But hardly anyone invokes lady luck.[1]

Just So Stories

Is there a secret to economic development? Actually, no. Only the ignorant or the seriously deluded are convinced that they know the secret. Each country follows a unique path that cannot be duplicated. Which is not to say that there are no general principles that affect development. Just as in the case of individuals, there are general principles that push toward success: intelligence, the ability to work hard, endowments, and external factors that are beyond one’s control. But let’s be clear about this: both nature as well as nurture are luck of the draw. You are born to wealth or poverty, and so also you are born with the genes that make you hard-working or lazy or intelligent or stupid. Continue reading “What Explains China’s Rise? — Part 2”

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