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Ten Things in China that You Can’t Get in India

By Chris Devonshire-Ellis and Seema Rani Bhende

Sept. 22 – Following last week’s Ten Things in India that You Can’t Get in China, this week we turn the tables and examine the question the other way around. This is what we felt were the immediate issues:

While it is true many Indians have got where they are on merit, it is truer in China. In fact, China has changed from being a Communist society to a meritocracy. Work hard and you can be rewarded in China no matter who you are. It’s a platform that the Communist ideology has provided and is available to most.

Large tracts of India’s society however remain stuck in the caste system, which although illegal, continues to discriminate against society’s traditional poor. Born a Dalit or untouchable and stay a Dalit; this is your karma on earth and it is unchangeable. Even attempting to marry outside your caste can lead to violence and discrimination instantly recognizable through surnames.

The idea of an individual from a family of gravediggers or butchers becoming an eminent doctor or surgeon are vastly minimized. It remains India’s shame and the largest problem that Indian society has to solve today.

A steady supply of electricity
While it’s not entirely true to say that China doesn’t have brown outs, in India, the problem is acute and more so in third-tier cities and rural areas. Generators have long been a way of life for Indians even marginally off the main roads and remain the main source of electricity for many. It has become, just as it did for investors into China in the early-mid 1990’s, a prerequisite to ensure a secondary supply of energy is available to factories.

China’s experience in boosting the capabilities of its national grid is something India can tap into but it will take years for infrastructure improvements to ensure that villages and towns across the nation can rely on something most Chinese can take for granted – the steady light of an electric light bulb at night.

In India, you cannot always rely on your taxi or rickshaw driver being able to read the address of where you want to go, even if it is written in Hindi or English. Agreeing to the fare then stopping several times to ask, rather than read directions is remarkably common.

In China as long as your hotel or a friend writes down the address in Mandarin, you will get to where you need to go. According to UNESCO, China’s literacy rate is 91 percent, whereas in India, it is about 66 percent. Much needs to be done in rural India to raise India’s level of reading and writing to acceptable norms.

Cross city travel in an hour
China’s traffic problems pale in comparison with India. China’s road infrastructure is impressive, with a total estimate of some 2.2 million kilometers of national highway. India’s national road infrastructure amounts to little over 70,000 kilometers. That appalling statistic remains the reason why in China, even with heavy traffic, it is possible to cross downtown Beijing or Shanghai in little over an hour. Try doing that in Mumbai and it’ll take you four hours from Juhu to Colaba, a distance of about 15 kilometers.

Things get done in China a lot faster than India. What is termed as Indian standard time or IST includes tea breaks, traffic snarl ups, cricket discussions and all varieties of distractions. While this habit is colorful, entertaining and socially agreeable, the chattering classes of India find far more time to gossip than their Chinese counterparts do thus productivity often suffers as a result.

International retail stores
Giant international retail stores like Wal-Mart, Carrefour, Ikea and Tesco are now well-entrenched in China. These massive temples of consumerism are matched in size by their local counterparts. Although often blamed for the demise of the mom and pop stores in the United States and Europe, retail stores thrive and do well in China.

Moreover, the local Chinese wet markets and stores still survive and prosper  because Chinese consumers patronize both. India’s retail sector is dominated by small players and village stores, and politically, the idea of Carrefour setting up next door drives the India retail sector cold with fright. So much so that even in these enlightened days of Indian market reforms, international retail giants are prohibited from doing business in the country while domestic players are not.

A decent sized taxi
Fifteen years ago, Beijing banned the tiny little yellow minivans that used to pass as taxis. The small, locally made little red cars that were ubiquitous across the country also disappeared in the space of about two years. Hardly big enough for the average Westerner, they had until then proven quite adequate for the willowy Chinese figure.

A growth spurt among the Chinese provided by rising incomes and a better diet and a government keen to kick start its domestic auto industry saw China phase out the ancient, rusted vehicles. It was replaced with gleaming new Volkswagens, which have become the car of choice for taxis in the country. These taxis are a vast improvement; having enough space to take two sizable foreigners plus luggage to the local airport.

Indian taxis ares are still the Premier Padmini, a tiny car based on the 1957 vintage Fiat 1200, and the Ambassador, based on the 1948 vintage Morris Oxford. Car air conditioning in these cars consist of a tiny fan mounted on the dashboard to stave off the heat. Although there are moves to replace India’s taxis, it’ll take some time.India’s automobile joint ventures however may look forward at some point to provide taxis to the nation’s fleets, but China’s passengers in the meantime drive around in luxury compared to India’s archaic, bumpy, ancient 50 year-old excuses for a ride.

Ice festivals
While India is often thought of as hot, it does of course border the Himalayas and possesses some of the highest, coldest and driest land on earth. Even the furnace of Delhi lowers its winter temperatures to little above freezing in the shadow of the Himalayas during January and February. But parts of Northern China technically exist in Siberia, which is geologically defined as being the range of the Silver Birch tree, and thus extends far beyond the borders of Russia.

With Siberian winds howling down from the north, China can get very cold indeed. The former Manchurian cities of Harbin, Changchun and Jilin still register below -20 C during winter months. In Harbin and Jilin, huge annual ice cities arise, carved out of massive blocks of ice hewn from the rivers. Pagodas, temples and entire castles 100 feet in high are constructed each winter.

They are a popular tourist attraction, and while India can feel cold, it’s China that can boast the glory of wrapping up warm and reveling in sub-zero temperatures.

Bike friendly roads
Both India and China are the spiritual homes of the modest bicycle and like China, for many rural and city individuals it is their main form of transportation. Cheap to buy and easy to use and store, they remain the transport of choice for the masses in both countries. But this is where their similarity ends.

While it is easy to bike around Chinese cities because of increasing amounts of denominated bike-only lanes, in India you risk getting hit by a cow or even cars playing chicken with you. And don’t get us started on the pot holes.

Local/expat relationships
We find Indian and Chinese families and friends equally hospitable towards foreigners. Invitations to their houses for drinks and dinner and an enthusiasm to show you around, act as a guide or help with shopping, purchases, finding an apartment and so on mark both as some of the most accommodating people we’ve met, anywhere. This is remarkable given their massive populations and lack of space.

Perhaps that very fact makes both far more tolerant than most Westerners. However, while foreign and Chinese relationships and even marriages are now relatively common, that is not the case in India. Indian girls marry Indian boys and it is a major source of trauma for an Indian family if this standard is not followed. The practice is related to India’s inherent caste system, where even a foreigner dating a local Indian girl remains rare. Interracial love it seems, is a Chinese virtue.

Comments are welcome.

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56 Responses to Ten Things in China that You Can’t Get in India

  1. AKS says:

    Dear Bloggers,

    It seems you have not spend a quality time in India and perhaps whatever knowledge you possess about Indian caste system as of now is very shallow. I have lived in different parts of India for along time and also come from a small village of India.The discrimination on the basis of caste system of which you are aware of has disappeared to a great extent now and I hardly find people from grass root level to upper strata of the society either talking about caste system or discriminating any person on the basis of caste creed or colour. My friends, things have changed in India and now nobody even cares to ask about a person caste or religion. As far as your are talking about Dalit and karma , this also seems to evaporate from Indian society as more and more people are being educated day by day.

    Literacy rate

    In India , its not so that most of the auto drivers cannot read or write. Hindi is considered as one of the National and Official language of India but most of the people are well versed in their local language or what can be called as dialect. Next time when you travel down to India try to communicate or show your destination address in the local language to the auto or taxi driver and I am sure you wont be lost in the city. India is a land of diversity in culture and language and It has 26 to 29 official language, 2500 local news papers and magazines and more then 10 major religion. Imagine it would be no fun if every body in India start worshiping one god, speaking one language and wearing same kind of cloths and eating same kind of food…. like what people Do in USA, UK , Aussie, europe Neah! there must be some thing different from each other to have and enjoy different colours of life and culture.

    A decent size taxi!!!

    You are true that in India taxi and transportation is still a major problem of concern. But do you think that a normal fiat taxi driver can afford to buy and VW and drive it as a taxi I guess he cannot do this. In China whatever happened , happened in the name of economical / country progress and who paid for this progress ? the answer is well well know to you…. THE COMMON PEOPLE OF CHINA… with no “RIGHTS” to go against their government.. This cannot be done in India at any cost since people have rights and also India is a democratic country and not a communist country like China.. I would like to emphasis , the philosophy of communism of having a “IDEAL STATE” is like dreaming at day time. No “STATE” can ever be totally perfect and there has to be evil…If communism is so successful then RUSSIA would have been as a SUPER POWER country of today and China next in line but it’s the US which is the strongest country in the world and democracy is one of the supporting point for it. Get your communist knowledge correct … go back to basics…

    Local/expat relationships:

    It is not necessary that whatever happens outside should take place in India. As I have mentioned, Indians are more culturally bound as compare to any other people in the world and still have the notion of joint family and not with the change in time , nuclear family and it would be very difficult for Indians who are also quit emotional I would rather say more emotional then the westerner to marry or date a foreigner who are more individualistic, for them I would say “capital “I” never dies” and self centered so no chance of local / expat relationship.

  2. Danny says:

    Ten Things in India that You Can’t Get in China
    1. Democracy
    2. Freedom, Liberty, hope
    3. Free speech
    4. Free press
    5. Justice
    6. Dignity of life
    7. Free internet
    8. Freedom to any religion
    9. Less Govt and Less police
    10. Less pollution and less Govt cover up

  3. Sumeet says:

    Hi Chris,

    Nice to read your article, but Ill respond to it as a true Indian.

    Well you write what you see from outside. I will write what I see from within, so please don’t mind it.

    In your country does a –
    Doctor fight a war?
    Professor of maths perform a surgery?
    A trader sweeps the street?
    A lawyer build skyscrapers?

    Whats wrong with the above examples? I guess nothing much. What we see in above examples is a reflection of modern day society, where a person specialized in particular field performs tasks relating to that domain.

    The caste system that developed in India, is what we practice in modern days. The caste system that was developed was much ahead of times. But, where did it went wrong?

    How does a most advanced technology would fail? No science or social system is 100% perfect. How did Titanic, with the most advanced technology sank on its first trip?

    Why do we still have accidents while launching a space shuttle , even when we think we have the best of technology?

    A simple answer to that would be- There was a flaw in the technology.

    Likewise, the caste system that was developed had a flaw. And I would not term it as a flaw. “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

    The ones who were vested with power, under the old caste system exploited it. The profession was made hereditary rather than a choice or skills. Well that was a flaw, which lead to exploitation of the weaker.

    I am afraid that your comment and I quote, “The idea of an individual from a family of gravediggers or butchers becoming an eminent doctor or surgeon are vastly minimized.” is not well researched.

    The Government of India has abolished discrimitaion based on caste system long back. Its a crime in India to practice untouchibility.

    The aim of India is all round development. The growth should not be concentrated to few urban areas in India.
    And that is what is holding India back.

    The Indian Constitution (The supreme law in India)has provisions of reservation for the weaker section of the society.

    In most of the cases 50% of the Govt / PSU jobs are reserved for Schedule Tribe/ Schedule Caste / Other Backwards Class categories.

    Well if you meet any IAS officer, 50% chances are that you are meeting Class I officer, who might be a son of

    In no way I concur with your idea that Indian caste system is a shame for India.

    Its our proud heritage and we are proud of it. The only problem with it was it was flawed and misused.

    I guess, I have many more points to discuss. Its getting very late in India and I have office tomorrow.

    So I guess I will reply to your ten point in ten days 🙂

    Will post my second comment tomorrow



  4. Good one, but Chris Devonshire-Ellis and Seema Rani Bhende has ‘Very Little Knowledge’ about india. You can’t really compare “Any” with India. Do learn more by staying in india for a month or two.

  5. Chris Devonshire-Ellis says:

    Once again, thank you all for your comments – as regards our qualifications in writing this piece, of Seema and I who wrote the article (we contributed five each), one of us lives in India and the other is ethnic Indian and fluent in Hindi. However we appreciate much of what you all say. Keep those comments coming in! Best wishes – Chris

  6. gregorylent says:

    china, has sidewalks and electricity .. india is of a much lower standard ..

    temples … in china they are restored, charge severl rmb for admission, and there is no juice, shakti, chi .. in india temples are living entities

    gender equality, safety … china, women totally free to work, wear, what they want . india it is not so .. (blame the men)

    china, drives on the right, india on the left 🙂

    1000’s of china students studying in india, almost no indians studying in china … (but china has better universities)

    china is modern, even in II and III tier cities, india not at all …

    china cities are clean, indian cities not at all ..

    china airports and train stations are very modern, indian ones, especially train stations, not at all …

    chinese people feel naturally equal with the world, india does not

  7. AKS says:

    Dear Bloggers Chris and Seema,

    Once again I would like to harp on the point you raised that your co-author is lives in India and fluent in Hindi. This does not gives any impression that your co-author is well versed with Indian culture and history there are 100 and millions of people who speak good Hindi and several dialect but their knowledge with respect to India and its historical growth , development and culture might be very very shallow.

    Anyways, It’s a good attempt by you two in writing this article and I would suggest two books for you and your co-author to read 1) Discovery of India .. very well written book by Our First Prime Minister Late Mr. Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru and the second book by the same author is Glimpses of World History…I hope these two books will help you in understanding India in a better way and then you can also come up with much appreciated Articles on India….
    All the best 😉

  8. Sumeet says:

    Cross city travel in an hour

    Well after such good responses.. I cannot hold my self back. I am so compelled to write my second response from my office room .

    Well I know traffic in india sometimes runs at a snail pace. Have you ever wondered why ? Most of the cities in India are old cities. I guess all of you know that one of the oldest civisations (Indus valley civilisation) developed in India. Back then we had the most mordern cities with lighted streets and broad roads.

    The house in which I live in my home town is itself 150 years old. My ancestral home is around 200 years old.

    Well what do you think makes traffic so slow in India? Cows, Street dogs, Street hawkers?

    Well if that is the problem, give me a solution ?

    Just for information sake. .. India is the only counrty where animals also have rights ?

    Well the governement policies of India are very different than those in China. Our poilcies are based on Greatest good for Greatest all” . Unlike China where if a government wants to make a road , it will push its way through. In India this cannot be done.

    Few recent examples, Tata (an Indian Company) when tried to acquire an agricultural land in West Bengal to set up a manufacturing unit, was faced with a stiff protest from people. (My simple question to you :- Can this public protest happen in China ?)

    So the progress of China is based on what ? At the cost of people. This can achieve short term objectives but would certainly bring civil unrest in the long run.

    Another example, India has not allowed Wall mart into retail markets ? Why?

    Because India is concerned about the people earning their living on the road sides

    FDI in multi brand retail is capped at 0%, why ?

    Because India does not want to grown at the expense of its ppl losing their living.

    Every nation has its own advantages and disadvantages. India is not moving alone(unlike china). The people of India moves with the nation. So the ppl on the streets would still continue to disturb the luxury cars till the time the entire nation takes a next step.

  9. Giri Velamore says:

    Hi Chris,

    It is a great article. I also read your last week’s article which was also great about Things in India that you can’t get in China. Co-writing this one with the help of Indian is an intelligent idea.

    While it is true that a few Dalits have made it to the top – an Ex-President of India, Mr. KR Narayanan and the present Chief Justice, Mr. KG Balakrishnan are the most prominent examples, the vast majority continue to suffer. The case is similar to US. Obama is the first Black President, but the vast majority of Blacks continue to be disadvantaged, although their lives have improved in the past few decades. The Indian Caste system is still prevalent not in the harsh terms of Pre Independence era. A few years before when a Dalit won a local village council election in Tamil Nadu, he was chased and brutally hacked down to death. Scratch the surface of the Indian society and the caste system is visible. Caste system is just a Social stratifcation like the class system in feudal Europe. I believe the Indian Caste system was a lot more harsh and it is now improving. May be in another 2-3 decades, there will be a lot more Dalit achievers. There is no doubt we have a lot more to do to improve.

    The lack of growth in Infrastructure in India is indeed holiding back India from realizing its full potentials. But the good thing is the political parties (Ruling and Opposition) have understood it well and are progressing in the right direction with all the political jostling. Many Indians blame the Politicians for the lack of growth but I believe that is arduous but the most acceptable path for growth. It is chaotic but balances the demands of all groups. I believe there is is an order to this chaos. To say the fact, this path is no different than other democracies including US and UK and just as much chaotic.

    India has all the right fundamentals – a strong Constitution, vibrant Democracy, reasonably free & fair elections, a working Judiciary, a working Administration and a greatly free Press etc, a vibrant educated people with emphasis on science and technology and lastly but most importantly, a will to succeed. 60 yrs is not a long period in History particularly for a large nation like India. But the Indian Political parties and its leaders have to realize the urgency of now and carry out their functions.

    Lastly, Congratulations on this excellent article. You and Seema have done a wonderful job. I believe you guys are just as much qualified as any one of us are. If you guys are blamed as not having understood India, then everyone of us too have that much less understanding of India. Because every individual is just 1 in 1.1 Billion people and may have localized knowledge about our state, language or culture.

  10. Giri Velamore says:


    I would like to respond to Sumeet’s comments. I’m interested in a healthy debate and hence my comments.

    Just for information, I was born in the so called Forward community. I sympathize with the disadvantaged people and I believe you too do. Yes, the Caste system in India is just a social stratification like the Class system in Feudal Europe, but I believe the Indian version has been a lot more inflexible and hence harsh. Regarding your question about Doctor fighting a war and a lawyer building skyscrappers – the problem is the inflexibility of the system that existed. In the Caste system, if a Dalit wished to become a Scientist, he had to struggle much harder than his contempararies. His parents are less educated to guide him, he will not be able to attend good schools or have good teachers in his neighbourhood. It is good that the Govt of India is trying to undo these differences by reservation, which itself is a highly controversial topic. I believe that there is nothing to be proud of the Caste system in India. We can be proud of the achievements of India in Philosophy, Arts, Maths, Science and Technology, both Ancient and Modern but definitely not to be proud of the Caste system. While I do agree that an egalitarian, non-stratified society is a like chimera, an inflexible social system like our Caste system is regressive and takes the society down. Which is what precisely happened with our Caste system in India.

  11. Chris Devonshire-Ellis says:

    Once again, thank you for your comments – healthy debate is always useful. India needs to change the general global image about it that it is poor, decrepit and dirty. There is a long way to go. It is not all like that at all, so much remains to be done to change peopels perceptions.

  12. Seema Rani Bhende says:

    It is great to see the spark this article has lit. That is the intention of writing thought-provoking pieces: to invoke reflection, response and reaction on stimulating topics. As can be seen from both articles, we believe that both China and India have wonderful and distinct qualities. Chris and I have lived in China and India and have shared insightful conversations about the advantages and disadvantages of each location. In a time where India and China are being discussed tremendously in the media, trade between the two countries is growing at a rapid pace and relations between the two nations is becoming more dynamic, it is interesting for people who spend time in both countries to reflect on the pros and cons of each location.

    From a social level, people who have lived and worked in both countries can appreciate the merits of dissecting the differences between both countries. It is done for the intention of interesting discussion and reflection and not from a place of finger pointing or blame. Articles and discussions such as these that highlight differences also shed light on similarities – and there are a number of commonalities between China and India: large populations, high priority on family, fast economic growth, long history of ancient civilizations, deep respect for elders, and both won true independence in the late 1940’s.

    We appreciate everyone’s valuable and interesting comments – they all have their own unique merits.

  13. Mahalakshmi says:

    I enjoyed your 10 things in China much more than the one about in India

    Yes, Caste did play role, but times are indeed changing, changing for better. And there are numerous examples if we look around in our daily lives.

    About Infrastructure yes I agree very much,it is ONE big thing that is really pulling us back !!!

    I felt the following are very unique to India:
    1.Land of Saints…I wonder if there are any elsewhere as much as here.
    2.Festivals by the dozens and temples everywhere, two down the road you live….we are always celebrating, eating and making merry! A foodie nation! diverse palate!

    3.Bollywood and Cricket unites the diverse Indians.

  14. Sumeet says:

    Giri Velamore

    Hi! and thanks for your comments. I do appreciate it. but still I hold to my view point.

    Well, I do agree with you that Indian caste system was more rigid. And that I have already mentioned that its had a flaw. It was a system which was based on blood line and not on choice or skills.

    But my response was to Chris’s argument “That India should be ashamed of the caste system”

    Can you tell me what is the basis of a society? Well its bunch of organized ppl. How do you organize ppl ? by specify in what their specific tasks would be. Likewise in ancient times the roles of ppl were defined.

    That was first step of moving towards an Organized Society !! right. Our caste system was much ahead of times.. I m sure you would agree with it.

    I do agree with you that it had a flaw.. but it does not mean that we should be ashamed of it.

    Well you look only at one aspect of caste system i.e oppression of poor. What about the benefits of it?

    It was due to this caste system India was organised into a wealthy trading country.

    It was due to this caste system that India we, had many organised warriors who were able to fend of greatest of threats …

    are these benfits to megre to ignore ?

    Ponder!! what would be the state of affairs is everone is doing every job? Without organising ppl we would not have orgainsed society?

    it is always the human tendency that you always take example of what ill effects it has done rather than the good assocaited with it.

    I still am proud of caste system which was developed in ancient times not for the wrongs it has done, but for the insight it has provided us into the ideal social structure.

    Your comments are welcomed !! I guess I may have lot to learn from you 🙂



  15. Daniel says:

    It’s very laughable that whenever the comparison between China and India comes up, the Chinese acknowledges its strengths and weaknesses with unbiased point of view/opinion, whereas the Indians just rebut everything that is negative about India. Even though majority of the negatives on India are commonly known issues, the Indians still find funny yet baseless excuses to justify. The ultimate goal, I gues, is the make everything in India “sounds” better than it is in China; but in reality nothing is better in India than China. Sorry, but India is losing the race against China.

  16. Sumeet says:

    Well Seema

    Your point well taken! but my suggestion to you! when you write in a public forum you can use more subtle words. I understand that you do not want to point fingers at any thing. But when you compare two countries– your choice of words have to be very politically correct.

    In India every one has a freedom of speech. You can criticize freely whatever you do not like. But your words might hurt the patriotic sentiment of any citizen. I would suggest you that next time you pass your message in a more subtle way.

    I refer to your article – words like “shame” “gravediggers” or “butchers” would offend any Indian. You are writing about a Nation in a public forum and you being an Indian my expectation was that you can can pass the same message in subtle manner.

    Read the reply of Giri Velamore and try to adopt his way of writing. In that manner you can have a healthy debate without sparking emotions by the readers



  17. MM says:

    I must comment. Being an Indian who lives in China, I will agree with the author. When we ask for things to be done in China, they go out and get it done. No questions asked. Look at the above list of responses to the forums. You ask the Indians, and they have excuses, rebuttals, why things are ‘different’ in India…everything but the solution to fix India. No wonder India is so far behind. The Indian infrastructure is so far behind it is not even funny, and everyone knows it. And in this country of ‘freedom of everything’ there is no freedom to fix the problems quickly.

  18. Sumeet says:

    Dear Daniel :

    Get your dundamentals about freedom of speech right. When you caompare two countries.. chinese accept it… because they do not have any other option .. do they …

    Indians don’t .. because we live in a free country .. and we are not supressed and operessed…

    These are not excuses . these are ground realities ..

    May i knwo which country do you belong to … And I shall give you some insights into your country .. and then we may see how you accept it

  19. Sumeet says:

    AND TRY READING HARE AND TORTOISE story again .. guess that you missed that in shcool..

    If you might have noticed and observed, when all the economies were hit badly by recession. India managed to stay afloat. China was hit more badly by the recession. What does this show about the policies of India and China .. In china it would take only one bad government to destroy the whole nation … foreign investors are also wary of that …

    India this cannot happen … since it’s a democracy and any bad decision by the govt. would have to face the litmus test of public good …

    My friend what you call as excuses … is the power of thought… that Indians have developed … and that is what why in world you find more and more Indian managers and entrepreneurs (more than Chinese).. you can do a little research and try rebut this.

    I think this blog was started not to dispense information ,..but to debate ona topic .. so instead of commenting on personal basis .. comment on the topic

  20. Chris Devonshire-Ellis says:

    We try and provide an even handed debate on these forums – we had the India vs China (as opposed to this China vs India piece) just last week – you can view it by clicking on the link at the very top of the article. There is no bias or motive, we’re just trying to provide an even handed overview on the differences between the two countries.

    In reading through, it seems it boils down to lack of personal freedoms for Chinese nationals (Do they care? Apparently not while the country continues to improve their standard of living) against caste system and lack of infrastructure in India (Do Indians care? Yes)

    An interesting point would be that if we assume India does sort out its infrastructure over the next 10-20 years (which it probably will) and China can’t maintain it’s growth for the beenfit of all its citizens – that satisfaction gap will close. Then what? – Chris

  21. Sumeet says:

    what i feel .. though China being a communist Country.. Has adopted Capatilistic model for growth..

    there is something wrong there ..

    and whereas India being a democracy … cannot leave out any section of the society behind.. in that sense .. it is growing in communist way ..

    well in the long run .. what matters most is .. how you take the whole nation forward ….
    if India is able to move ahead with its entire population . .. I guess in the long run Ill bet my money on India…

    This is evident from strong middle class ppl developing in india .. The rich poor gap .. is not that much as it is in China …

    China can win small battles .. but India will win the war

  22. Sumeet says:

    Ill also share some interesting points about how even ppor ppl are conributing to india’s success .. later

  23. Giri Velamore says:

    Hi Guys,

    This debate is absolutely exciting. Sumeet, I agree with your positive observations of the Caste system. You have stated my own beliefs too. If the Brahmins, in general view are academically strong, it is because of the high emphasis and expectations on education in the past. Without that, India couldn’t have produced Aryabhata, Bramhagupta, Bhaskara etc or to the modern day, Mr. Ramanujan. Similarly the great Kshatriyas were strong leaders and Vaisyas of Ancient India were International traders involved in Spices trade. The point is down the Caste ladder, people are more and more disadvantaged. It was the inherent weakness in that system. When no one identified and rectified it, the system came crashing down. I’m able to see your patriotism, but I suggest to take the harsh criticism. The idea is that harsh criticism results in a positive response. If the intention of Chris and Seema is to ridicule India, we can defend our honor in an appropriate manner. But it appears they have just taken a picture of the two countries and comparing the two.

    I think you will agree that the 21st centurty is going to be an Asian century. This is the opportunity and strength of the two countries. What are the weaknesses of the two countries? – Lack of democracy in China. In case of India, well, in my belief it is nothing wrong. I simply love the vibrant democracy in India. Politics in India may appear very frustrating, but there is no shorter route to it. And Yes, Sumeet, I agree to one of your observations that just like the Caste system in India, Democracy is also not perfect. Any system is as good as the people who use it. Abuse a system, and everything is imperfect. Julius Ceaser abused the Democracy and in a few centuries Roman Democracy came crashing down. Slavery in US existed in a democracy. Just like the Democracy, the Caste system was also be badly abused. Some parties and political leaders in India abuse Democracy but I believe the people are exercising their democratic rights very well and punishing those parties and leaders.

    In short India has to continue the messy path to growth. Indian leaders should realize the urgency of Now in terms of Infrastructure growth. China has to seriously think and set right the freedom in China which is pathetically denied to the people of that great nation. I still doubt if their leaders have got a handle of their problem. I still believe they are treating symptoms like Xinjiang and Tibet but not the real problem of political freedom. If it is not handled properly, they could come crashing down as nine pinks like the Soviet Union did. And it will be a disaster not just for that great country but for the whole world. It could happen anytime. That is a short term and long term, all engulfing threat, for them. This is just an observation.

  24. Chris Devonshire-Ellis says:

    I would tend to agree with you that the One Party State system has serious weaknesses when dealing with development. They will either have to become more oppressive or will have to relax further into partial democracy. The Chinese political system as it is I do not feeel is inherently stable in the longer term without reform. Thanks to all for your contributions incidentlly, it’s made for a great debate here on 2point6. – Chris

  25. Sumeet says:

    Hi Giri

    Thank you for your response.. well I guess I am ready and willing to take any criticism .. but need to remember that this is public forum.. I do not intend to impose my own beliefs on any one esle…

    I was only against the words used in the article… i have already mentioned .. that when you talk about a nation in a public forum … you need to be careful about the words you chose ..

    I do not in any case doubt the intentions of Chris and seema … I commend the work that they have done.. if you read my responses … I have not tried to defend India in a retaliation.. I have put forward what I feel in this article.. and it was just to enlighten the authors .. that there is other side of the coin also

    But I must say … i really appreciate the way you respond… In a manner of a debate ..

    Chris and Seema … Job well done …

  26. Sumeet says:

    to support what I meant to say about the caste system ,..
    India also understand that there were flaws in the system .. the govt is taking measures to sort out those issues… But no way India should be ashamed of it..

    India oppose ” internationalization of caste system” as a form of racism


    Times of India 29th sept (mumbai edition)

    Nepal ditches India, says caste is akin to racism
    Despite Indian Oppn, UN Set To Dub It A Human Rights Violation

    Manoj Mitta | TNN

    New Delhi: If the recent genome study denying the Aryan-Dravidian divide has established the antiquity of caste segregations in marriage, the ongoing session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva looks set to recognize caste-based discrimination as a human rights violation. This, despite India’s opposition and following Nepal’s breaking ranks on the culturally sensitive issue.

    Nepal has emerged as the first country from South Asia—the region where untouchability has been traditionally practised—to declare support for the draft principles and guidelines published by UNHRC four months ago for “effective elimination of discrimination based on work and descent’’—the UN terminology for caste inequities.

    In a side-event to the session on September 16, Nepalese minister Jeet Bahadur Darjee Gautam said his country welcomed the idea mooted by the UNHRC document to involve “regional and international mechanism, the UN and its organs’’ to complement national efforts to combat caste discrimination. This is radically different from India’s stated aversion to the internationalization of the caste problem.

    Much to India’s embarrassment, Nepal’s statement evoked an immediate endorsement from the office of the UN high commissioner for human rights, Navanethem Pillay, a South African Tamil. Besides calling Nepal’s support “a significant step by a country grappling with this entrenched problem itself’’, Pillay’s office said it would “like to encourage other states to follow this commendable example’’.
    The reference to India was unmistakable especially since Pillay had pressed the issue during her visit to New Delhi in March. Pillay not only asked India to address “its own challenges nationally, but show leadership in combating caste-based discrimination globally’’. The granddaughter of an indentured labourer taken to South Africa from a village near Madurai, Pillay recalled that in 2006, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had compared untouchability to apartheid.
    Adding to India’s discomfiture, Sweden, in its capacity as the president of the European Union, said, “caste-based discrimination and other forms of discrimination based on work and descent are an important priority for EU’’. If this issue continues to gather momentum, UNHRC may in a future session adopt the draft principles and guidelines and, to impart greater legal force, send them for adoption to the UN General Assembly.
    The draft principles specifically cited caste as one of the grounds on which more than 200 million people in the world suffer discrimination. “This type of discrimination is typically associated with the notion of purity and pollution and practices of untouchability, and is deeply rooted in societies and cultures where this discrimination is practised,’’ it said.
    India Isolated?
    UN proposes to equate discrimination on basis of caste—on grounds of work, descent—to rights violation India has long opposed ‘internationalization’ of the caste issue Nepal supports draft, first south Asian country to do so UNHRC calls upon India to follow Nepal’s example

    If caste system was that bad?why India is opposing it being categorizing as a form of racism?

  27. Chris Devonshire-Ellis says:

    It appears to me at least that most of us agree that the mass oppression of people (as is the case in China through lack of democracy) is not endorsed by the majority of Indians. However when we have the same issues but substitute the one party state for the caste system, (which has a similar effect) it appears some attempt to either pretend it doesn’t exist, or attempt to justify it. Surely there is a contradiction here? – Chris

  28. The_Observer says:

    The ten things in China make it better for more people in China than in India. In addition there should have been an eleventh item which is that it is currently easier to set up and do business in China compared to the bureaucratic hoops that businesses have to go through in India. Combined this with the better infrastructure in China and a wider educated Chinese workforce and it is obvious that international investors and businesses choose China over India. A year or two ago India was the favored destination over China for private equity investment. Now that China has eased up on the rules for PE (and investments in general) there has been a lot of interest shown in the revived China economy. For a recent example see the Reuters India news article on private equity investments for Asia below:


    Now if only a larger number of Chinese companies issued dividends that would go a long way to stabilizing the Chinese equity markets in any global downturn.

  29. Howard says:

    Here I give my list for free comments:
    1. Cyberspace cop;
    2. Dog meat restaurant;
    3. Athiest (maybe);
    4. One Child policy;
    5. Communism education in elementary and secondary schools;
    6. Taikonaut (Chinese astronant) ;
    7. Permanent membership of UN Security Council;
    8. Angry youth;
    9. Giant panda;
    10. Chinglish. (LOL…)

  30. Chris Devonshire-Ellis says:

    Observer, I disagree with your statement “currently easier to set up and do business in China compared to the bureaucratic hoops that businesses have to go through in India.” In fact (and we should know, we are in this business) setting up for example a Representative office in India requires two less bureaucratic steps than in China, and in India it is also possible to buy pre-incorporated ‘shelf’ companies such as WFOEs. China is actually more bureaucratic than India when it comes to establishing a company. In terms of infrastructure, that is largely the point as to why you would want to set up in India – the government are poised to spend USD500billion a year over the next five years to address that problem – and foreign investors want to supply that same market demand.

    Howard – India also has had men in space, and currently has a larger commercial satellite industry than China does, just last week putting seven communications satellites in orbit from one launch. That hasn’t ever been done before. See:
    http://www.india-briefing.com/news/india-successfully-launches-7-satellites-1138.html/ Otherwise, great list ! Cheers – Chris

  31. Giri Velamore says:

    Hi Chris

    This is in response to your comment # 27 about Caste system in India. Indian nationals in this forum may support it or oppose it, for whatever reasons. The Govt of India is committed to reservation for the historically oppressed people and there is a quota system to help them in Education and jobs in Public sector. So, the government recongnizes the inequality and helping the disadvantageous people. It has been in effect for the past 60 yrs and it is continuing still. So, there is a governmental effort to remedy the inequality. There are some criticisms about the Reservation system but it is a separate discussion.

  32. Chris Devonshire-Ellis says:

    The caste system problems arise because the government sometimes seems too keen to promote the less advantaged – sometimes giving university places and scholarships to lower ranked students because they are Dailts rather than on merit. Those are just political gifts. Longer term the problem remains the name association, and the fact that certain Dailt politicians spend rather more money on marble elephant memorials to themselves in self glorification than on actually managing to help the very people they claim to represent.

    Overall, the government is doing a good job on eradicating the caste system, however the inherent prejudices will take decades to get out of the system. For the purposes of this debate, China’s violent jolt into communism at least has had the effect of providing today an educational system based more on merit than India has thus far achieved.

    Thanks for your responses – Chris

  33. Sumeet says:

    Chris agreed with your observation… I never denied the ill effects of the caste system.. but there were benefits associated with it too …. that was my whole point

    The idea of reservation though started in a very .. it was agreed by the government that it would stay there for a limited period of time and that the creamy layer woudl be exculded from the reservation….

    Now because the lower caste ppl are majority voters in a govt .. any govt face a tough decision to roll back the benefits (one of disadvantages of caste system)..

    But in a democracy … everything is like course of a river .. it finds its own way ..

    More and more classes of castes (probabaly the majority of voters in a region) demand for thier inclusion in the list of beneficiaries ..

    that happend recntly in cases of Gujjars in Rajasthan..

    well now when more and more ppl are being added to that list .. the pppl who are being left out are less .. and therefore … there is a role reversal ..

    Any ba decision or indecision of a Governmnet in a democracy takes a long time to heal

  34. Sumeet says:

    Just to share with you … when this reservation policy was introduced .. there was a big protest by the ppl of india ..

    but even then this policy went through .. and the government who introduced this policy was also removed from office

  35. Chris Devonshire-Ellis says:

    …something that could not of course happen in China. The Chinese people cannot express their disatisfaction with their own government in this way.

  36. Chamar says:

    Why are the words “gravedigger” and “butcher” offensive to Indians? As for public hue and cry, voting out govt, etc. no form of protest actually worked, did it? Reservation happened, and continues to get worse and worse. So what’s the difference if we can protest in India? That’s all we can do. Power failure, flooding, rape, goondaism, etc. are getting worse, no matter how much we protest. In actuality, we are getting less free than China, not more free.

  37. Sumeet says:

    well my dear freind . .. you are forgeting .. if there was a protest against reservation .. there was also a very strong support in favour of it.. agree or disagree .. large number of ppl benefitted from it …

    We are in a democracy not a consensus Govt.. teh majority wins … that was the case with reservation policy..

    they still continue to benefit from it.. therefore .. you cannot have policy reversal on it… but do not forget .. India has a very strong and independent judiciary … (backbone of any democracy).. it found a midway to reconcile the two opposing ends and put an upper cap to any reservation to 50 % .

    Any reservation beyond that level can be challenged on teh grounds of Unconsitutionality….

    Just to remind you ..IN policy reforms … we are 13 years younger than China .. lot of action is yet to take place in India…

    I guess you have not seen a picture of mordern India .. If you compare rape, flood .. crime etc with china… Im sure you would get a diffrent picture .. beacuse in china the media is controlled by Govt itself.. they potray the picture what they want to ..

    I must remind you of Tiamen square incident… The atrocities on tibetiean .. were not even exposed to the world when they protested about the Bejing olympics ….

    There is a popular saying in Hindi which i translate for you in eglish.. what you see is not always what is teh reality…

  38. The_Observer says:

    Related to Meritocracy and Literacy above allows for a better and more educated population. The latest Times(UK) Quarterly Supplement has their World University Rankings 2009.


    In the Top 200 ranks there are:
    6 Mainland Chinese Unis.
    5 Hong Kong Unis.
    1 Taiwan Uni.
    2 Singaporean (mostly Chinese pop.) Unis.

    2 Indian Unis. (IITs Bombay and Dehli)

    I just wish that a lot of Indian commentators would stop claiming that Indians have much better intellectual capacity than their fellow Asians.

  39. Chris Devonshire-Ellis says:

    “I just wish that a lot of Indian commentators would stop claiming that Indians have much better intellectual capacity than their fellow Asians.”

    Yes, I would agree, however its also true to say that there are far more Indians who get overseas degrees, MBA’s and further educational qualifications than there are Chinese. The Indian diaspora is far larger than the Chinese.- Chris

  40. Chamar says:

    …because India has so few great institutions for so many well-deserving youths! Our young students are easily as good as the best in the world — they can get into good overseas colleges — but we don’t have institutions for them here! Everyone is outsourcing to India, but India is outsourcing its Nobel Prizes to the USA!

  41. am a Swiss national of Indian origins, now often in China
    – have lived and conducted business across India and China, amongst others –
    i believe all the mentioned by Chris on the 22nd September is accurate
    i would add a line i feel extremely important..
    the Indian government’s failure to improve education in the country, from basic roots, is what will separate India’s possible ”’race”’ with China for the 5 to 10 years to come, and most importantly make up the outcome after 20 years
    infrastructure is as important, but it matters now, education will change the path of the country, for the better or the worse, not now, but tomorrow, day after and much more…..

  42. 11th thing: hunger policy says:

    “The scorecard report shows that China, ranked second out of the developing countries, cut hunger numbers by 58 million in ten years through strong state support for smallholder farmers.

    By contrast, in India, 30 million more people have joined the ranks of the hungry since the mid-nineties.”


  43. Chris Devonshire-Ellis says:

    Hmm. I’m not sure if those stats are actually correct. However, assuming they are, I could point out that the current Congress Party was elected into power partly because it recognized the need to reform its agricultural sector and lift Indian farmers out of poverty. I suspect India will follow many of the policies that China did in achieving the same thing.

  44. gabriel says:

    I live in China and have visited India for a few months, and I must say that I personally feel much more affinity with the Chinese, and like the country much more. This is just my personal thing.

    I know lots of Westeners are really taken by India, and love the place. Personally I couldn’t get my head round it. I didn’t find the people so friendly on average (though some are), and of course the way that people in touristy places always try to make money out of foreigners is irritating. Maybe I wasn’t there long enough.

    Plus, I find it so cool that in China there is a completely different culture, relatively unspoilt by the West. In India, all the better educated people speak English even to each other at times. If India used an Indian language for all official things, it would be much better I think.

  45. Chris Devonshire-Ellis says:

    “In India, all the better educated people speak English even to each other at times.”

    Thanks Gabriel, I think we commented on the numbers of Indian’s who speak English as a first or second language. Its far higher than the Chinese manage. However, there is a strong accent issue. If you ever hear people from Bihar or Uttar Pradesh speaking English you’ll know what I mean. India does have official langauges, they are Hindi and English. However a further 15 regional languages are also recognised. And in China, the Sichuan accent is notoriously difficult to understand, even for Chinese. Deng Xiaoping used it a lot to get his eighties reforms through, no-one understood what he said but didn’t want to question him either.

  46. DisagreEr says:

    “Yes, I would agree, however its also true to say that there are far more Indians who get overseas degrees, MBA’s and further educational qualifications than there are Chinese. The Indian diaspora is far larger than the Chinese.- Chris”

    My wife just finished up at a top-10 university in the US and there were far more Chinese there (citizens not including Chinese Americans, Chinese Canadians, etc.) than Indians (including Indian Americans). Maybe the imbalance was true in the past but I don’t think it is true now. Have you been to Toronto or Vancouver?

  47. Seema Rani Bhende says:

    “I find it so cool that in China there is a completely different culture, relatively unspoilt by the West.”

    Gabriel, totally agree, the vast and unique country of India is truly hard to wrap your head around, especially in one visit. As someone who has lived in both India and China, I would like to politely disagree about China being “unspoilt” by the West. When I first moved to China, I was amazed at how the Chinese primarily wear Western clothes and only wear Chinese outfits on special occasions such as weddings. In India, most women wear traditional garments such as the sari and salwar kameez (women in urban areas like Delhi and Mumbai do wear western clothes often though). Also, I was pleasantly shocked at the number of imported grocery stores selling high-quality cheeses, wine, packaged goods from Europe and the US. While these stores cater primarily to foreigners, wealthy aspiring Chinese do frequent these shops as well. Quality imported food is not nearly as easy to find in India. Likewise, the consumer-istic nature of the West has completely infiltrated the China market with the growth of retailers such as Wal-Mart and massive shopping malls being built everywhere – the Chinese are fully embracing the Western shopping behavior.

  48. Chris Devonshire-Ellis says:

    Disagrer, yes, I have property in Montreal and know Canada well. My daughter may be educated there when she’s at University age. The Chinese do tend to favor North America. However, many are also from Hong Kong, which is a very different socio-economic group from the mainland Chinese. You’ll find plenty of Indians in the US conducting MBAs, as well as pretty much everywhere else, UK, Australia and so on. However I would agree that there has been an explosion in the last ten years of Chinese student overseas. Quite frankly, its only during the past decade that they’ve (a) had the freedom to travel and (b) the money to do it. India also has a far better domestic business school education system than China does – meaning it also now educates more Indians and to a higher level than China does. We’ll be running a report on India’s Business Schools Top 100 shortly on http://www.india-briefing.com – Thanks for your comments – Chris

  49. The_Observer says:

    The link below is for an article from an Indian website reporting on The Economist’s rankings of MBA colleges:


    For Asia, MBA colleges are dominated by Unis. from Australia and Hong Kong. No Indian college made the Top 10.

  50. Chris Devonshire-Ellis says:

    If I can point out Observer, the survey you quoted lists over 100 Top MBA colleges in full, not just ten. I may also add that the ten you refer to are all in developed nations, not emerging markets. China doesn’t have any entrants in the list you refer to either. It’s made up exclusively of Australian, Japanese, Hong Kong, and Singaporean programs.

    Meanwhile, The Indian Institute of Management at Ahmedabad I note was ranked fourth globally in terms of the category “Open new career opportunities”, ahead of Harvard in ninth place.

    Clearly, the prestigious business managment school and MBA programs and facilities still lie within long established institutions, mostly within the developed world. However, it would not suprise me at all to see challenges coming to some of these renowned academia from Chinese or Indian schools in the very near future.

  51. Ananda says:

    Caste system is overplayed. In fact it deserves guiness record for the most played victim card in the history of human race ! Caste is not so evil as it sounds. During the time of Buddha, the priests were very arrogant, true. Thats when the caste card was first played. Later, the Buddhists themselves became corrupt. Caste card was a convenient tool to attract more followers. Later Islam came, completely knocked out the head of Buddhism and absorbed the body into Islam. Here also, caste card was useful to convert people. Later the Christian missionaries came. Seeing the usefulness of caste card, they also played it to attract more followers. And now we are into the 21st century. Christian missionaries are globalized and corporatized. They are the biggest lovers of caste card. The other lovers are of course the political parties.

  52. Chris Devonshire-Ellis says:

    @Ananda – well said, I would agree with that. Thanks – Chris

  53. ajay says:

    I don’t know how true is Meritocracy in China. Its easier to have Meritocracy when you are one race. It is another thing to implement in diverse ethnicity like India.

    Case Study: Take example of US, It was best in Meritocracy, no matter who you are and where you are from. But, as American society go multicultural its hard not see biases based on religion, ethnicity, culture. US is still leading in meritocracy though it will become difficult to implement meritocracy as it becomes more diverse.

    I do like Punctuality aspect of China.

  54. ajay says:

    Ananda, caste system is also in Euope/US/Canada.

    As far as i know there are different churches for German/ British people in Canada even if both are part of Protestant group. Also, Germans and British hang-around in their own group though they do sometime socialize with each other. If we consider Blacks in America, they have different churches from white people. So, caste card is nice way by west to look down on India, i hope Europeans will see caste system in their own society.

    I think difference between India and Europe(US,Canada also) lies in population and wealth. Its just that US/Canada/Europe do not have same kind of poverty that there caste issue are blonde. Though i must accept that caste system are on decline in US/Canada. Lets see how EU does.

    China does seem to have no such issues, but again its much more homogeneous than Europe or India.

  55. Michael says:

    Another thing that you will get from China and not India is a toilet!

  56. Jeeva Raja says:

    The best way to get rid of the caste system is to make Brahmin and other upper caste girls marrya and have the children of lower caste men, their children will be true Indians with no caste.

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