Will India Embrace Capitalism Before China Embraces Democracy?

Sep 12, 2008
<p>B-339 Rayburn House Office Building</p>


Dr. Christopher Lingle
Visiting Professor
Institute for International Studies
at Ramkhamhaeng University in Bangkok

Often referred to as the Tiger and the Dragon, India and China have positioned themselves as the two most prominent developing nations of the past quarter century. While their stories hold many similarities, geography, demographics, and high rates of poverty, it is their differences that are most intriguing. Namely, one rules from the top down, while the other rules from the bottom up. This dichotomy has been central to the two countries approaches to economic reform and fodder for much debate in the international community.

India's economy has done well in that GDP per capita has more than doubled since reforms began. However, while India and China had economies of roughly the same size in the 1950s and 1960s, China’s greater progress with market reforms and foreign direct investment since the 1970s has pushed it well out in front, increasing a remarkable 7-fold. If India's democratic institutions are more like those in the developed world, then why such a divergence?

To address this important topic, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University will host Dr. Christopher Lingle, visiting professor at the Institute for International Studies at Ramkhamhaeng University in Bangkok. Dr. Lingle will explore questions such as:

  • What has driven the recent success in India? Are we beginning to see a slowdown in this trend?
  • Why is it that India, with its healthy democratic institutions, has not seen more success? How have the different political systems in China and India determined the direction of their economic policy?
  • In the face of rapidly growing prosperity, how has China been able restrain political dissent?