East and West in India's Development

East and West in India's Development

East and West in India's Development

East and West in India's Development

Excerpt

A case study of India is an essential link in a research project concerned with the relationship of East and West to the so-called uncommitted countries: for it is there that "competitive coexistence," the topic of the present NPA project, will meet its severest test. By virtue of its size and the quality of its leadership India has assumed an exceptional place among these nations. It is moreover the only country in Asia outside Communist China that is engaged in a sweeping venture of planned economic development. Inevitably, comparisons between the progress of India and China and the means they employ will be made by other developing countries.

Many observers have pointed to the critical impact of this comparison and to the importance of the "demonstration effect" of the outcome on politically undecided leaders of other nations. Since the Chinese Communists have stepped up their efforts and introduced extreme forms of regimentation, their display of ruthlessness has not been lost on other Asians; Indian travellers have expressed their dismay about what they saw in China. For the moment, at least, the human and social cost of the Chinese experiment is brought home in an uncommonly drastic manner to all but the most naive. But if Red China really grows considerably more rapidly than India, and if hardship is relaxed with time, the initial sacrifice may tend to be forgotten while the success will make a stronger imprint on the observers' mind.

One could also show to impatient planners that another Asian country, Japan, has managed to develop with great speed by essentially nontotalitarian methods. True, in the beginning the state played an important role in Japan but with time private investment took over and growth nonetheless proceeded at rates that compare favorably with those in communist countries if properly adjusted for systematic exaggeration. This "demonstration effect" ought to encourage a new country like India which is still fighting for a viable compromise between welfare aspirations and limited resources.

This is an important counterpoise to the communists' boast of the superiority of their proprietary recipe for growth over the less peremptory, and hence perhaps more diffuse, method of democratic planning. In a large country like India where trade and aid, no matter how massive, cannot possibly dominate an agricultural economy of about 400 million people, the East-West struggle centers on this comparison of economic systems. Psychologically, the Western free enterprise system labors under a double handicap: it is Western and therefore appears tainted with colonialism; and it relies on the profit motive which is disdained by many intellectual leaders who were influenced by Fabian or Marxist tenets in their formative years. Their equalitarian bias is often quite vocal and sounds ominous to those in the West to whom the very word "socialist" is anathema; but one should not overlook the hold on these leaders of democratic traditions and the positive heritage of Western thought, which separates them from totalitarian patterns more decisively than, perhaps, they sometimes seem to perceive or care to admit.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.