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False Equivalence

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India, today, is the world’s fastest growing economy, climbing up from its earlier slowdown caused by demonetisation and GST introduction. It is set to overhaul Britain as the fifth largest economy. It is true that it is way behind the two leaders – the US and China. The latter climbed rapidly in the past couple of decades and this phenomenon is being quoted by a number of experts as evidence of India’s ‘failures’, in the bid to make light of its present achievements.
It is like comparing apples to oranges! The latest point of comparison, for instance, has suddenly emerged after the introduction of reservations for the economically backward among the general category of job aspirants. India, out of the blue, seems to have discovered that reservations don’t serve the purpose of employment generation and a ‘merit-based’ system works much better – as China has done. This is after seventy years of continuing with reservations as ‘necessary’ and inviolate! Of course there is politics behind this – for or against – but this is something that China does not have to contend with. That nation has zero politics, emerging from the fact that it is not a democracy!
Many of the measures taken by China to boost the economy would not have been possible in a democratic country. It invited manufacturers from all countries, particularly the US, to make in China by providing land and cheap labour without any worry about courts and tribunals ruling against it. Manufacturers that were up against the rising pollution standards and high wages in their own countries were happy to take advantage. It used coal without a care and stole technology shamelessly were it could find it. Pollution became a concern only when the basic objectives were achieved. Cheap rip-offs of global brands were manufactured without interference from the law. Human rights of any kind were not a worry. International conventions on trade and tariffs didn’t matter – nor do they now! The fact that the vast majority of the Chinese people belong to one ethnicity and the minorities are brutally subjugated ensures that the people’s demands are unidimensional, there is no diversity to worry about. Projects are not delayed for decades because some NGO thinks it knows better. There is a single definition of patriotism. The list continues endlessly. The Chinese are rich today, but still cannot afford democracy.
In India, social and economic factors together determine politics. Just as in the run-up to the coming Lok Sabha elections, all kinds of alternatives are offered in various permutations and combinations for the people to pick from. It is in this evolutionary manner that the nation selects its way forward. Even the most popular and powerful Prime Minister cannot just bulldoze a way to progress, even if solutions seem simple and straight-forward. The fact is, democracies can only be rated by their own standards.