Top 12 Challenges Facing India in the Decades Ahead – 10 – China

China is currently everything India is not. While India is the land of contradictions, China is the land of conformity. While India is an infrastructure nightmare, China, which is already decades ahead of India in infrastructure, is investing heavily, building rapidly, and getting even further ahead. While India is in a perpetual state of energy crisis, the energy sector in China, where the government can effectively control the 11 companies that used to compose the State Power Corporation (SPC), is stable and increasing energy production year over year to meet the needs of its population which make it the world’s second largest electricity consumer after the United States. (In 2011, annual power generation was 4693 TWh, which was over five times the power generation in India that peaked at about 877 MWh.)

But it’s not just infrastructure and energy that China has the lead on. It’s just about everything else too. As per a recent NYT (New York Times) article on Why India Trails China, India has an even bigger problem. In particular, it’s the ever-increasing gap between India and China in the provision of essential public services. And while inequality is high in China (as the 1% control 70% of the country’s wealth, compared to the US where the 1% only control 35% of the country’s wealth), China has done far more than India to raise life expectancy, expand general education, and secure basic health care for its people. Plus, literacy in China significantly exceeds literacy in India at 95% vs 74% in India. While India has elite schools of varying degrees of excellence for the privileged, among all Indians 7 or older, nearly one in every five males and one in every three females are illiterate. And while China devotes 2.7% of its GDP to government spending on health care, India allots a mere 1.2%. (That’s probably why China has a much lower child mortality rate that is less than one third of India’s. See A View from the East.)

In terms of business, China is ahead of India in many respects. China exports goods almost twice as fast, registers property more than twice as fast, and business start-up times are almost 33% faster! (See: Despite being a democracy, India is less politically stable and more corrupt. (See: Interlink India) And the proof is in the GDP pudding. In 1995, when India represented only 3% of world GDP, China represented 6% of world GDP, and in 2010 when India was still only at 5% of world GDP, China was at 14%. (See: The India Site) And while India is expected to increase its GDP by a mere 4.4% next year, China is still on track to increase its GDP by 7%.

Infrastructure. Public Well Being. GDP. While just a few measures of global influence, they are a few important measures and China is leading on every single one. That’s why China is projected to have almost a quarter of the Global GDP in 2025 (by The Conference Board), more than triple what it had in 2000, while India is projected to have a mere 8%, only double what it had in 2000. If India wants to achieve its destiny of being the second most prosperous and influential country on the planet, it will have to at least keep up with China instead of losing ground every day.