Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Elephant and Dragon - East meets West

For me holidays mean resting, relaxing, reading and learning. I recently borrowed an audio book( audio books work best with me these days, given my 10 month old who would tear books to pieces. At our home the digital version of anything is more invincible than paper.) by Robyn Meredith called 'The elephant and the dragon. This was long overdue given that the book came out in 2006. It has been by far a very popular book in "China India Economy" domain.

I have just read 3 chapters amounting to 2 CDs in a set of 8 and loved it completely.
Ms.Meredith is a foreign correspondent for Forbes in China and India. She has managed to paint a realistic ( in my view) picture of what's happening to China and India and what it means to the world. This book is an absolute read for all Asians, Indians and Americans as well.

Since she is a news correspondent, through an audio book, she has taken us to the roads, airports and cities in India and I could also completely visualize her descriptions about Beijing, Shanghai and many other Chinese towns. You can relate the audio book to NPR broadcasts if you ever heard the public broadcasting station at 87.7 FM.

The verbiage excellently captures the actual feelings of post-globalization citizens and benefactors. Interestingly you do not get bogged down by statistics and appreciate what's happening in the East comprehensively and clearly. As a 20 or 30 something you may not have witnessed the reforms that were executed in both the countries ( 1978 - China 1991 - India) and how it changed the way things were done forever.

As a Easterner living in the West, this book led me to imagine the amount of opportunities these countries have in future and to sustain a 8% plus GDP growth given the enormous investments, labor and other resources going into the system.

A part of book tells why it has been easier in China to implement the infrastructure and not in India. Politician Kamalnath has attributed this to the Authoritarian rule in China where things happen at snap of the finger, as opposed to India where the government is decided by the people (Democracy) and thrown out of control if reforms are seen as some threat. Additionally corruption and red tapism slows down the process, making India an Elephant and not a tiger. Atleast it's progressing steadily like a druken man as the book quotes. China is ahead of the two and the Infrastructure is extremely modernand fast growing with newer technologies. A trip to China from India is like a trip to Singapore - a treat to eyes as I can conceive from Meredith's viewpoint.

Also this book is in sync with "my dreams for my country". Better roads, better facilities, better planning, less waiting and an Internet based living. Sitting in 2010 one can imagine more realistically about how India is going to change. A change that is inevitable, given that people are starting to believe in open competition, hence making voting decisions and older generations that are bein g replaced by better salaried young people who are receptive to new ways of living, giving rise to a less conservative and more modern culture.

A farmer's son is no more a farmer, he is sitting in air conditioned rooms with coffee machines and other amenities beside him at work. This boy wants to build a bigger life for his parents, wants to buy a microwave, AC or Flat screen TV, things unimaginable in his father's days.
Or take a girl, who if she was out of college ( provided she even made it to college) looking for jobs before 1990 would have landed on a clerical post, irrespective of her skills, but now is capable of supporting a whole family because she is a part of 2010 India. This has happened within my family.

Elephants and dragons were created when the east opened it's doors to the prosperous westerners. Suddenly East is a fertile land for young, energetic entrepreneurs.

Undoubtedly there is more to happen, newer challenges with free market, but it's all exciting and promising ! !


Vimala's art said...

Hey, your blog is interesting. You write so well. great

AD said...

Nice blog shri, love your writing...I have committed to blog writing myself starting this year...
would definitely put Elephant and dragon on my list to read for this year