India, China Growth Breaks Western Mold

Essayist says market reforms are only part of the big picture
By Caroline Zimmerman,  Newser User
Posted Feb 3, 2008 7:33 AM CST
A clerk at an foreign currency exchange desk at a hotel shows Chinese yuan banknotes in this July 22, 2005, file photo taken in Shanghai, China. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Conventional wisdom chalks up the economic booms in China and India to their moves toward global capitalism in the '90s. It's a comforting thought for the West, writes Pranab Bardhan in the Boston Review, but the truth is far more complex. The astounding growth in both countries started well before recent market reforms. Bardhan re-evaluates the well-worn myths surrounding the past, present, and future of these economic giants.

China had already reached a growth rate of 9% between 1978 and 1993, due in large part to its policy of decentralization. And in India, most economic growth occurs in small, traditional enterprises unlikely to be affected by foreign policy, Bardhan writes. He also complains that Western thinkers often misrepresent the role of democracy and authoritarianism in the countries. China's disenfranchised rural poor, for example, are much less likely to rise up than the urban middle class.