Friday, 22 May 2015

India Has No Excuse

I was shocked to read recently that China's GDP is 5 times that of India's. Five times! Not 20% more, not 50% more. Five times more!

How? How did a country with roughly equal population, and that was at roughly the same level as recently as the 1980s, end up doing not just slightly better, but so much better?

Why couldn't India achieve something comparable? If India's GDP could have been just three times what it is, can you imagine how many hundreds of millions of people could have been lifted out of poverty and into the middle classes? When you look at it that way, you have to conclude that a crime of incalculable proportions has been perpetrated on the Indian people.

I often hear Indians claim that India is poor because it was looted by its British colonialists for two hundred years. But the example of China shows that up as a mere excuse. The British left India two generations ago. Since then, if we compare India and China as two independent countries in charge of their own destinies, the British are nowhere in the picture. If China could progress so much in the same time, what's India's excuse?

Besides, being looted is hardly an excuse when one looks at countries like Japan and Germany, which were both utterly devastated and left in ruins after the Second World War ended in 1945, with a significant portion of their able-bodied men killed or turned into invalids. Yet in less than twenty years, both countries had not just restored their industrial strength but had also established themselves as manufacturers of quality. Being knocked down is no excuse for staying down.

There are those who will blame Nehru (who died way back in 1963) or the socialist policies of the Congress party. These excuses might be valid in a dictatorship. In a democracy, where people have a right to judge the performance of their government and to regularly reward and punish political parties based on their assessment, where does the buck stop?

I can only conclude that Indians' expectations have been too low for too long, and that they have suddenly woken up and realised that the rest of the world has passed them by. The one comparable country in terms of civilisational past, size of population and parity two generations ago, is now five times their country's size.

The blame lies with the expectations, attitudes and will to action on the part of Indian citizens.

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