The world’s two fastest growing major economies, China and India, are very large and heavily populated countries with various differences in their social and economic models as well as in their political regimes.
The People’s Republic of China, when compared side by side to the Republic of India, possesses more strengths in economic terms but India is the stronger of the two in its political regime because it operates as a democracy which protects the liberties of its citizens. Being the world’s most rapidly expanding economies, China and India have both grown tremendously within the last decade. However, China has the fastest growing economy in the world. China’s history dates back to over four thousand years and it surpasses India in areas such as literacy rates, life expectancy, and lower poverty rates. The People’s Republic of China, a single party state, has been dominated by the Chinese Communist Party since 1927.
Approximately seven percent of China’s population is in the communist party, about 90 million people. The PRC is a unitary state with their executive system in the form of a Communist Party authoritarian regime with the National People’s Congress as their unicameral legislature. The president of the People’s Republic of China- Xi Jinping- is the head of state while the premier- Li Keqiang- serves as the head of government and is in charge of China’s executive branch- the State Council.
On the other hand, the Republic of India is a “sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic, republic” according to their constitution. In this parliamentary democracy, the president, currently Ram Nath Kovind, is the head of state and the prime minister, Narendra Modi, is the head of government and there is a federal division of power. Their parliament consists of the lower chamber called the Lok Sabha or the House of the People and the upper chamber known as the Rajya Sabha or the Council of States. Although both houses have similar legislative process and powers, the Council of States is much weaker and the House of the People dominates the bicameral legislature in India, particularly in areas such as introducing legislation. The two major parties in India are the Bharatiya Janata Party- Indian People’s Party- and the Indian National Congress. The BJP Party is closely linked with ideologies similar to hindu nationalist parties and is a right wing party. Despite being the supreme law of the land, China’s constitution- originally adopted in 1982 and most recently amended in 2004, has not highly institutionalized political power.
In addition, “the Western notion of the rule of law has generally not prevailed in China” (page 401). China’s constitution mentions that order and security are salient over the rights of individuals, making it authoritarian in practice. The Supreme People’s Court in China has a president who is elected by the NPC and deputies appointed by the Standing Committee and has jurisdiction over appeals from the High courts. In contrast to China is India; the world’s largest constitutional democracy who has adopted democratic ideologies. The main reason India offers the stronger model of government is because of its legitimacy.
India has the longest written constitution and under the constitution, the British rule of law has been adopted in India and thus, there is no presence of arbitrary power. The rule of law respects the rights of all citizens and ensures laws are created democratically. The constitution includes information on the states and territories, the fundamental rights of citizens, as well as the twenty two recognized languages of the country. The supreme court of India has the power of judicial review, as noted in the constitution, combining the U.K.
parliamentary system with the U.S. doctrine of judicial supremacy. The official language is Hindi but English is also spoken, making India the second largest English speaking country in the world, coming in behind the United States.
Under the British Raj, the English language was slowly implemented into India. From the time that India was ruled by the British crown up until its independence in 1947, speaking English has given the people of India a few benefits such as access to the global market. China is also ethnically diverse. Although about 90% of the population is made up of the Han Chinese, there are more than fifty five nationalities. Even among the Han Chinese, the language is divided into eight groups.
For example, Mandarin is the official language of Beijing while Wu is the prominent dialect in Shanghai. In terms of development, both China’s and India’s economies are fast growing world powers. Nonetheless, there is a difference between their ways of development. While China has been a market economy for the past three decades and is one of the top exporters of necessary goods, India is slowly on its way to becoming a market economy. One major distinction is the growth rate. Ever since the policy of reform and opening started in 1978, “China’s gross domestic product has been growing at an average rate of just under 10 percent a year- double the rate of the other fast-growing Asian tigers..
.and quadruple the average growth rates of the United States, Japan, and the United Kingdom” (page 384). This growth has contributed to helping over 400 million Chinese overcome poverty whereas in India, despite the high growth rates, poverty remains a prominent aspect of the economy. Also, India’s literacy rate is far below that of China and the life expectancy in India is over ten years below China’s. A few other areas where India comes short is the annual revenue and the unemployment rate (which is slightly higher than China’s). This is not to say that China’s economy is perfectly stable and sustainable. As China’s establishments start becoming more profit oriented, Mao’s iron rice bowl withers away and there is higher unemployment and less job security.
After gaining independence, India’s economy embraced methods from the liberal trade in Western countries and implemented “a foreign policy of mercantilist economic nationalism, promoting import substitution industrialization and redistricting trade” (484). In the 1980s, India’s economy experienced a liberalization movement with a focus on the market and privatizing the economy with more emphasis on private ownership and less government regulation. Although the reforms have been significant, they are gradual and less rigorous than in China.When analyzing China’s policy making process, a major strength is evident. Being a unitary system, the process of passing new legislation is faster, although not completely visible because most of it takes place behind closed doors. Only the NPC and its Standing Committee can pass new laws which then has to be approved by the State Council.
In India, a bill becomes a law when introduced in either the Lower or Upper House of the Parliament, passed by both houses, and lastly, assented by the president, when it becomes an Act of Parliament. Another one of China’s strengths is that the country was never under direct foreign rule whereas India was under British control until its independence in 1947. However, India does have some strengths as well including being a parliamentary form of government. India utilizes the Westminster system of government where the power lies with the prime minister and the president is a symbol of power with limited duties. In the past, both countries had their fair share of inequality amongst citizens whether it was in the form of the caste system or the practice of communism which still left divisions between the rich and poor despite Marx’s theory that abolishment of private property will bring about equality (but this is more a problem rooted in the greediness of human nature rather than the practice of communism in China). According to the Gini index which measures economic inequality with zero being perfect equality, inequality rose “from .16 in 1978 to .39 in 1988” (page 429).
Another challenge China is currently facing is the slowing of its economic growth due to the fact that it is completing the transition from being a developing country to becoming a fully developed country. There is speculation that China’s booming economy will soon stop its rapid growth and slow down. Although China does not use democracy as its method of governance, their political regime allows the nation to carry out whatever is needed in order to strengthen its economy and government. If India ranked lower on the charts for corruption and the education level increased, it would have the potential to catch up to China. As for China, its flaws fall under the area of representation and the citizens’ voices go unheard.
Due to its high state capacity and autonomy where the state fulfills the basic tasks with minimum public intervention, they are authoritarian in regime- especially under conservative President Xi who has been cracking down on the policies concerning the media and tightening the people’s civil liberties. Media and public opinion in China is heavily censored and criticism of the government is not tolerated. On the other hand, India protects all of the rights of its citizens that are stated in the constitution. There is low autonomy and moderate capacity where the state is still able to carry out the basic needs but with some involvement from the people. However, this puts them at a disadvantage when it comes to resolving challenges quickly or developing new policies. In all, the advice that I would offer to the political leader depends on whether they value economic prosperity over political diversity and freedom. When looking at the countries in terms of freedom and liberty, India comes out on top for its political diversity and for being governed by the rule of law.
However, in terms of economic success and market growth, China is the stronger of the two. The Republic of India is a secular nation with protected liberties for its citizens and more freedom than the citizens of China.