Sunday, January 28, 2007

Getting Rich: Pankaj Mishra reports from Shanghai

I read it, so that you don't have to.

Pankaj Mishra is an Indian fiction and non-fiction writer. This article was published in the London Review of Books.

Most of this article is a comparison between China and India with some historical perspective but mostly a comparison of India and China today, from a sociopolitical angle. Some random notes:
* India and China were friendly during the first 10 years after Independence (trying to counter the US influence, according to the author)
* Indian actions led to the 1962 war between India and China which India lost
* Some Chinese regard Nehru and Gandhi as greater than Mao
* China went through much better land reforms than India and has less feudal baggage, while India manages diverse opinions better and
* Both India and China have undergone reforms, but they only tend to support the elite
* There is an emerging New Left in China that is opposed to rampant capitalism

My opinion:
* The article does not deliver on its promise. He doesn't seem to have spent enough time in China. He keeps referring to the "New Left" in China and lays out what it does not stanford for, without really defining what it does stand for.

2 stars out of 5

The view from a "Business Environment in China" class being taught at Nanyang Business School in Singapore: (sorry, this is going to be a little unstructured, and I blame it squarely on the small window and size of the text-box for comments on Blogger)

A clinical professor of Chinese ethnicity, who's been living in Singapore and China for the past 2 or 3 decades, in his opening speech for the class picks up a copy of the Asian Financial Times, points to a special on "Globalization & India", and says, "India is the future". The guy is investing $30mm in a medium-size business in China, and has been doing this for some years. He's very animated, enthusiastic, and entertaining. Talks about ground realities in China -- that you need a Chinese partner if you want to do business there, because "there are things you don't want to know". Talks about how awesome Shanghai is. Talked about the SEZs and the awesome growth that they've seen. The thing is that China has been growing like this for the past 30 years! When you go to India today, you feel the energy and the momentum, and you get all enthused right? Well, the Chinese have been feeling that way for 30 years!! I can kind of imagine what it must be like to be in Shenzhen...

So he says that we have to watch out for India -- if they can get their act together...
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