Awakening Giants, Feet of Clay: Assessing the Economic Rise of China and India

Awakening Giants, Feet of Clay: Assessing the Economic Rise of China and India

Awakening Giants, Feet of Clay: Assessing the Economic Rise of China and India

Awakening Giants, Feet of Clay: Assessing the Economic Rise of China and India


The recent economic rise of China and India has attracted a great deal of attention--and justifiably so. Together, the two countries account for one-fifth of the global economy and are projected to represent a full third of the world's income by 2025. Yet, many of the views regarding China and India's market reforms and high growth have been tendentious, exaggerated, or oversimplified. Awakening Giants, Feet of Clay scrutinizes the phenomenal rise of both nations, and demolishes the myths that have accumulated around the economic achievements of these two giants in the last quarter century. Exploring the challenges that both countries must overcome to become true leaders in the international economy, Pranab Bardhan looks beyond short-run macroeconomic issues to examine and compare China and India's major policy changes, political and economic structures, and current general performance.

Bardhan investigates the two countries' economic reforms, each nation's pattern and composition of growth, and the problems afflicting their agricultural, industrial, infrastructural, and financial sectors. He considers how these factors affect China and India's poverty, inequality, and environment, how political factors shape each country's pattern of burgeoning capitalism, and how significant poverty reduction in both countries is mainly due to domestic factors--not global integration, as most would believe. He shows how authoritarianism has distorted Chinese development while democratic governance in India has been marred by severe accountability failures.

Full of valuable insights, Awakening Giants, Feet of Clay provides a nuanced picture of China and India's complex political economy at a time of startling global reconfiguration and change.


This is a short book on two large countries, focusing on their comparative economic development in the past quarter century (a minuscule segment of their long history). It is not about their now considerable impact on the global economy, which gets most of the attention in the Western media; it is more about what has happened to the lives of people inside those countries and under what structural constraints. Nor is it about the impact of the current global recession; the deliberate focus in the book is on long-term institutional and political-economic issues. It does not represent new frontiers of research; it largely draws on existing information and scholarship. Avoiding the minutiae of analytical or empirical details, it tries with broad-brush strokes to portray the overall contours in a relatively coherent exercise in comparative political economy meant for a general readership. In the process it also demolishes some of the myths popular in the media and parts of academia that have accumulated around the significant economic achievements of the two countries.

Thanks (nonincriminating) are due to Tarun Khanna, Gerard Roland, and two referees for valuable comments on an earlier draft.

Pranab Bardhan Berkeley, April 2009 . . .

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