Monday, October 31, 2005

Pranab Bardhan on India and China

Well, Pranab Bardhan, a professor of economics at Berkeley has a nice article in Yale Global [Hat tip: Brad DeLong]. It is refreshingly different in that it points out all the difficulties the two countries have to overcome before they get to play the owners of the 21st century. Also, the article doesn't have too many India-China comparisons. Here is some of what Bardhan has on India:

What about the hordes of Indian software engineers, call-center operators, and back-room programmers supposedly hollowing out white-collar jobs in rich countries? The total number of workers in all possible forms of IT-related jobs in India comes to less than a million workers – one-quarter of one percent of the Indian labor force. For all its Nobel Prizes and brilliant scholars and professionals, India is the largest single-country contributor to the pool of illiterate people in the world. Lifting them out of poverty and dead-end menial jobs will remain a Herculean task for decades to come.

He has similar stuff -- stuff that goes largely unreported -- on China too. Here is how Bardhan's article ends:

We should not lose our sense of proportion in thinking about the rise of China and India. While adjusting its economies to the new reality and utilizing the new opportunities, the West should not overlook the enormity of the economic gap that exists between it and those two countries (particularly India). There are many severe pitfalls and roadblocks which they have to overcome in the near future, before they can become significant players in the international economic scene on a sustained basis.