Thursday, October 27, 2005

The rocky road to superpowerdom

Every day, countless commentators prophesize the ascendance of the world's next superpowers, China and India, the two "Asian giants" shaking off their ancient slumber and rising to the call of the 21st century. According to popular punditry, their place in the firmament of globalization's success stories is already guaranteed. Yet economist Pranab Bardhan argues that a much more complicated picture belies the rosy visions of optimists. In China, rural and urban inequality grows at alarming rates, stirring unrest amongst those hundreds of millions who remain impoverished. In fact, China, responsible for only 6 percent of world trade, has actually lost manufacturing jobs in the past ten years. Meanwhile, India's much-vaunted hi-tech sector accounts for less than one quarter of one percent of the country's labor force. The nation still boasts the world's highest illiteracy rate, while poverty reduction continues to slow. In short, Bardhan suggests, only patience and struggle – not destiny – can guide India and China to the level of superpowers. – YaleGlobal


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