Wednesday, September 13, 2006

China can build things. Why can't India?

India?s top science and technology official is in China, making excuses about why his country?s infrastructure is so shoddy. Shanghai has brilliant new skyscrapers and museums and parks and trains ? and Bombay can?t manage to have a decent airport. According to Minister for Science and Technology Kapil Sibal, it?s all because of democracy. ?There is a different model of growth in our country,? Sibal told reporters in Beijing, according to this report from wire service PTI carried on Indian portal ?We can?t, for example, build a Pudong overnight.?

Well, neither did the Chinese. Pudong today is the result of more than a decade?s worth of work and planning and investment. The place is hardly paradise; Pudong can feel overwhelming, especially along the district?s broad boulevard. I?m not saying that Indian officials should be trying to replicate Pudong in Bombay. But falling back on the old ?We?re a democracy, don?t expect too much of us? argument doesn?t cut it. Yes, the Chinese don?t have elections. But the Japanese do. So do the Koreans and the Taiwanese. They manage to build things anyway.
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