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Unlike China, India cannot be an economic superpower

By Ashoka Mody

28 Jul 2023 · 4 min read

informed Summary

  1. There’s been a lot of talk of late about India supplanting China as an economic superpower. But the great optimism over India’s economic future is unfounded, argues Ashoka Mody in this essay for @ProSyn. China and India began liberalizing and opening up their economies in the early 1980s, but while China focused on human-capital development, India did not.

PRINCETON – In March 1985, the Wall Street Journal showered India’s new prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi, with its highest praise. In an editorial titled “Rajiv Reagan,” the newspaper compared the 40-year-old Gandhi to “another famous tax cutter we know,” and declared that deregulation and tax cuts had triggered a “minor revolution” in India.

Three months later, on the eve of Gandhi’s visit to the United States, Columbia University economist Jagdish Bhagwati was even more effusive. “Far more than China today, India is an economic miracle waiting to happen,” he wrote in the New York Times. “And if the miracle is accomplished, the central figure will be the young prime minister.” Bhagwati also praised the reduced tax rates and regulatory easing under Gandhi.

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