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Democracy alone won't modernize India

By Ding Gang (Global Times)

10:15, October 25, 2012

Recently I hosted a backpacker from China visiting Bangkok. She started to look for cheap airline tickets as soon as she received her India visa. Finally she booked a flight from Bangkok to Chennai.

"What does Chennai look like?" She asked me. I told her it's the fourth largest city in India. In the words of locals, Chennai is the "Shenzhen of India," it is the manufacturing center of the country.

Nevertheless, Chennai is much less well known in Asia than Shenzhen. This is related to the position of India's manufacturing industry in both Asia and the world at large.

Talking of India and China, Indian scholars often prefer to use the labels "the biggest democratic country" and "the biggest authoritarian country." In my eyes, it might be more accurate to describe India as "the biggest service country" and China as "the biggest manufacturer."

Some believe that India, with a more flexible political system, will catch up with China sooner or later. It sounds like the fable of the Tortoise and the Hare, which we've heard a thousand times.

But they forget that no matter which development path they choose, developing countries like India and China have to experience certain stages, rather than simply jump over them.

Across the world, there is no single poor country that can develop through service industries. Manufacturing growth is indispensable, especially for populous countries like India and China.

Without development in manufacturing, neither India nor China could address the problem of employment and improve service industries.

It is manufacturing, rather than democracy, that has the key gap between India and China. Generally, industry is divided as follows: Primary industry includes agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry and fishery, secondary industry includes industry and construction, and tertiary industry mainly refers to service industries.

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