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?Modernism in India is unique?

The modernity in China looks largely American, thanks to the mutual fascination that the two countries share. But modernism in India is absolutely Indian.

india Updated: Apr 29, 2006 02:56 IST

Michael Elliott is a man spending a larger part of his working hours on board a plane. So it’s quiet natural that landing at the Delhi airport is always a disappointment for the Editor of TIME International. But that does not mean that the Indian success stories in services, manufacturing, entrepreneurship have missed Elliott’s eyes. “The modernity in China looks largely American, thanks to the mutual fascination that the two countries share. But modernism in India is absolutely Indian,” he told Prerna K Mishra.

Give us a quick SWOT analysis of India vis-à-vis China?

India has indigenous economic and entrepreneurial success stories. It has vitality and dynamism, with businesses looking outwards. It got a final political push when President Bush publicly ended the scratchiness in the relationship between the two countries by endorsing that Indian was a strategic partner. But, China has outperformed India in poverty alleviation, infrastructure build-up and basic education, especially for women.

The world has started auditing the Chinese rate of growth? Is there reason for skepticism?

There is no doubt about the fact that there are holes in the Chinese data. But, they are not so big that they change the key conclusions that you come to when you analyse the country’s progress.

China started reforms earlier. Does India have a few lessons to learn from the Chinese journey?

One thing that China did not think seriously about in the first wave of reforms, is environment. The Chinese acknowledge it and are experiencing the aftermath in the form of water pollution, desertification in north east, sandstorms in Beijing. India can skirt the aftermath by being environmentally more conscious.

When we speak of power centres in Asia, we seem to have forgotten Japan. Is the Japanese story over?

Japan is striking back with vengeance and the difficult times are over for the world’s second largest economy and the richest nation in this part of the world. Looking at economic dynamics in this region without factoring in Japan will be a grave mistake.

Which are the other powers to reckon with in this region?

I would take economies like Vietnam, Pakistan, Bangladesh very seriously. The South East Asian economies have got their due and are relatively evolved but the future would clearly be driven by the other emerging countries.

With the shift of power and wealth to Asia, is the shift of geopolitical prowess out of US inevitable?

If you were to ask me this question five years ago, there were certain things that were fixed about the US dominance in the world. But today that perception has started to wobble. The American cultural prowess is certainly on a decline. The Chinese obsession with everything American notwithstanding, India has been able to develop a modernity that is not American. China’s contribution to trade is substantially more than India but Indian concept of modernity is much more original. I don’t see the geopolitical shift happening overnight as India and China, even after a decade of high growth, will be poor nations vis-à-vis the West. But the shift of power is underway. It may not be measurable but it’s on the roll.

First Published: Apr 29, 2006 02:56 IST