BBC China correspondent Rupert Wingfield-Hayes takes a trip to India and notices the stark realities between Delhi and Beijing. For folks familiar with both counties this is no surprise, but he captures the cognitive dissonance quite well.
There are, I suspect, many who are hoping that India, with its freedom and democracy, will win this new race to become the nexteconomic super power. I am not so sure.
I have spent the last eight years living in Beijing, and only four days in Delhi, so comparisons are difficult.
But the few days I recently spent in India made me look at China in a new light
Delhi is an overwhelming experience. It is as if all of humanity has been squeezed into one city.
The streets groan under the weight of people. The air is filled with deafening noise and sumptuous smells.
Switch on the television and it is the same.
Between channels blasting out voluptuous Bollywood lovestories and pop videos, an endless stream of news channels dissect the latest politicalscandals, and debauched lifestyles of the rich andfamous.
Coming from China it is an almost shocking experience…
Later that day as I drove home from Beijing airport along the smooth six-lane highway I could not help feeling a sense of relief at being back in a country where things work.
And it was not just the airports and roads.
Driving through a village on the edge of Beijing I was struck by how well everyone was dressed.
In Delhi, I had been shocked to see thousands of people sleeping rough on the streets every night, nothing but the few rags they slept in to call their own. Even deep in China’s countryside that is not something you will see…
China is not a free society, and it has immense problems. But its successes should not be underestimated.
They are ones that India, even with its open and democratic society, is still far from matching.
During a trip last year to the high tech center of Bangalore, I had similar feelings.
I rode an autorickshaw through town that had to dodge a cow before making it to the massive intersection with an abandoned unfinished overpass, just down the road from the gleaming Dell Computer workplace.
Locals know it’s also famous for the traffic light that holds west-bound traffic for a full seven minutes, so most vehicles turn off their engine and wait it out. (I took the opportunity to hop out and take some pictures.) If you take a left turn to head towards the town center, it’s all brown dirt with large sharp rocks jutting out. Driving a three-wheeled rickshaw through it is completely insane, where you’re one jolt away from completely toppling over.
But it’s important to note that the India vs. China competition is not very productive in the grand scheme. The success of one will not be at the expense of the other.
technorati tags:india, china, bangalore