In recent years, China and India have similarities in that they both have huge populations and have experienced extraordinary economic growth over the past decades.

However, In many ways, China is ahead of India.

What are the main differences between the Chinese and Indian systems for which India is struggling?

  • 7
    It should be noted that the economic success of any given country might not be solely due to its political system. May 12, 2017 at 7:33
  • They do not exactly occupy the same geographic area and can be easily distinguished by location. Alternatively, please clarify the question.
    – Stančikas
    Nov 28, 2022 at 8:16

2 Answers 2


The main difference is Democracy versus One Party Rule.

India is suffering from the side-effects of democracy. A democratic system is inherently slow. And, if that is adopted by a country with 1.3 billion population, then that becomes a mother of all snails.

India has regional parliaments and a federal parliament with multiple assemblies. This system is theoretically fantastic, but practically a nightmare for development. Indian politicians waste a lot of time in their parliaments to take simple decisions. For example, It took 16-years for Indian parliament to pass tax reform bill, it took 15 years to sign LEMOA with USA.

Then come bureaucracy and red tape. India is a bureaucratic nightmare for businesses. A Hong Kong-based company found that India was the worst place to do business in Asia. Simple decisions take years to finalize. Some examples that bureaucracy ate up India are, Indian MBT project took 35 years to finish, and Indian jet fighter project took 33 years to finish.

Then comes Indian Judiciary. There are 27 million unsolved cases in Indian courts. Other references suggest that there are 31 million pending cases.

India has a horribly disproportionate wealth distribution. India's 1% wealthy class possess the 58% of the total wealth of India. Just 57 Indian billionaires have same wealth (USD 216 billion) as that of the bottom 70% population of the country.

India has a horribly split and bigoted society in terms of race and religion. People are being killed for eating beef, African students are being killed in racial attacks, foreigners are attacked for so-called defamation of temple, and so on.

India has much higher crime rate than that of China. Raping of foreign nationals are rampant.

Finally, corruption. India had an lower index of perceived corruption before 2014.

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Also, lack of infrastructure. The rate at which China developed its infrastructure, is unthinkable even according to the Western standard. India is still struggling in this area.

  • "India had an incomparably higher index of perceived corruption before 2014." - That's not what your graph shows. They both fluctuate between 36% and 40% in the time range shown, and China's index is shown as higher before 2014, not India's.
    – D M
    May 21, 2017 at 18:12
  • @DM, sorry for the mistake. I am correcting.
    – user4514
    May 21, 2017 at 18:21
  • "India is suffering from the side-effects of democracy." Well that doesn't seem to be the case in USA, Indonesia, Brazil, Japan etc which are also democracies and have comparatively large populations and well ahead of India. I think more important reason is there is huge difference in average IQ of both the countries. According to this list average Chinese has an IQ of 105 against average Indian's 82. Link: iq-research.info/en/page/average-iq-by-country
    – Rolen Koh
    Aug 21, 2017 at 8:16
  • 1
    @anonymous "I am talking about 1.3bn population." So you mean to say democracy is not good option for a 1 billion plus country?
    – Rolen Koh
    Aug 22, 2017 at 4:23
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    @anonymous: "A democratic system is inherently slow. And, if that is adopted by a country with 1.3 billion population, then that becomes a mother of all snails." You do realise that with this statement you basically support mine that democracy is not good for a billion plus country, right? If it move at snal pace its not best for 1 billion plus country.
    – Rolen Koh
    Aug 23, 2017 at 4:34

TL;DR I believe social structures, economic structures and natural conditions are more important; the political system plays a lesser and perhaps even marginal role.

  1. Although China was not a very industrialized country before the economic reforms, there were parts of China (e.g., Manchuria) that have had solid industry bases for some time. On the other hand I am not aware of much industry in India at the time of independence, i.e. China started a step ahead compared to India. Moreover, India's strategy was to focus on the tertiary sector, i.e. services; however, India doesn't have a large secondary sector yet. A big manufacturing sector is more inducive to eliminating poverty than the a big tertiary sector - naturally, it's much easier for unskilled workers to find jobs in factories than in service.

  2. Social structures. China had eradicated much of the old social structures (the literati, the landlords, etc.) through two revolutions. On the other hand there had never been a social revolution in India; class structures - such as the caste system - have not fundamentally changed. A semi-feudal social structure does not induce the development of capitalism or the elimination of poverty.

  3. Natural conditions. India is more tropical than most of China; half of India lie to the south of the Tropic of Cancer, while very little of China does. This makes public health conditions much harsher (due to the faster breeding of germs), i.e. the society has to invest more on public health, e.g. on preventing tropical epidemics. Monsoons and tropical storms can cause also a lot of destruction. Although the tropic is naturally more productive in agricultural societies, tropical climate might actually be a hindrance in industrialization due to aforementioned reasons.

  4. Poverty in China may be underestimated due to the opaqueness of the government.

  5. Although authoritarianism allows the government to focus on certain priorities more easily, an authoritarian government has less incentive overall to eradicate poverty as it is not held accountable to the people anyway. On the other hand, democratic governments have more incentive to do so as they are held accountable and responsible to the people. Therefore, I don't think political systems play a huge role in this single issue.

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