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?

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    It should be noted that the economic success of any given country might not be solely due to its political system. – newenglander May 12 '17 at 7:33
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    China is one of the few benevolent dictatorships in the world. It's easy to beat a democracy when you can implement changes without caring about the next election. It's also a lot easier to lose, but China has avoided the fate of many dictatorships. – JonathanReez May 12 '17 at 8:02
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    @JonathanReez I would refrain very much from calling it benevolent (if you want to test that, go to Tiananmen Square with a signboard calling for democracy). That said, they seem more "responsive" than most dictatorships and, if popular pressure demands it, they can make some concessions as long they do not affect the basics of the system. – SJuan76 May 12 '17 at 8:08
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    @SJuan76 it's benevolent in the sense that their economic model is working and their citizens are becoming well off faster than anywhere else. Nothing else matters. – JonathanReez May 12 '17 at 8:10
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    @JonathanReez I really hope you never need to learn how much living in a democratic country matters... – SJuan76 May 12 '17 at 11:07

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 '17 at 18:12
  • @DM, sorry for the mistake. I am correcting. – user4514 May 21 '17 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 '17 at 8:16
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    @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 '17 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 '17 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.


By prevailing western standards (except for Montesquieu's), India has a first-world political system made ready and handed out by the British. Its legal infrastructure is essentially the same as those of GB, Australia, Japan, Canada, the Netherlands, France, Germany and Italy and Scandinavian countries. Not only that India's common law system has a history dating back to 1860s, India also has a corps of law professionals trained in British universities.

In addition to a perfect legal infrastructure, India, for decades, has frequently topped the list of recipients of foreign aids, which included both financial support and technology transfer. China, on the other hand, suffered decades-long economic sanctions and embargo but managed to rise in spite of it. Similarly, India accepted Ango-American aid then stole a march on Chinese territory in 1962 when China was in the deep of a great famine, but India was thoroughly defeated nevertheless.

If India's modern political system is the ultimate driving machine, the reason why India ends up where it is today must be sought in the qualities of the driver, not in the vehicle.

India's national character is sadistic. The evil spirit of glorifying suffering is deep in the Indian soul. Every Indian man has an uncontrollable impulse to inflict cruelty. What is even more horrifying is that the infliction of cruelty is often justified by incredibly fine phrases.

India's national sport is politics. An average Indian national is as skilful in the craft of politics as an average Chinese in the art of cooking. In a world of cunning intrigues, any one who diverts his energy to create something new would inevitable let down his guard, and whatever he creates others reap.

India professed non-violence, but fought numerous wars and seized Southern Tibet, Sikkim, the Seven Sisters, Kashmir, Goa and Hyderabad by force. India today is the world's largest weapons importer despite the fact that India is also among the poorest of the poor. This is blatant hypocrisy, British style. As a matter of fact, India is non-violent and servile to its former overlords, ruthless and violent and brutal to its neighbours, who are equally poor and miserable. Exactly when a neighbour needed help the most, India's ruthlessness redoubles. The Indian nation's footman behaviour exemplifies the average Indian man.

By contrast, when Deng was in office, China's foreign policy was "no alignment, no confrontation." Deng's successor's policy was "keep silent and make money" - not only that there was no confrontation, there was not even talking back - for nearly two decades after Mao's death (1976), China's vast army was content with WWII weapons and Chinese soldiers did not even wear boots.

Indian nationals are caste conscious. Hard work is more likely to earn you contempt than admiration. A German would proudly show off his bloody callous hands and tell you that the cobblestones in this and that streets are his work; an Indian man would proudly boast that his country exports the kind of stuff that only clever people can make, and disparage your country who lifts itself out of poverty because your country did it by hard work.

China's government lacks checks and balances. Not only that China's legal infrastructure is embryonic, the Chinese habits of mind are not ready for the rule of law. China is a lurching giant capable of great blunder and great success. Neither China's blunders nor successes are original. The P. R. China has been walking on beaten paths ever since its first day: between 1949 and 1978, China followed the Soviet model and suffered just as badly; between 1978 and 2012, China imitated Meiji-era Japan and experienced similar rapid rise. The predominant Chinese character is avarice, but, fortunately, capitalism seems to be able to make good out of bad. Nevertheless, It is only for the present moment that China seems to have done something right. What will China do when there is no more examples to follow? Will China blunder again? These questions remain open.

Contrary to the standard CCP narrative which says the extermination of the landlords and capitalists lead to the liberation of the people, landlords and capitalists were actually China's economic captains, and the overthrown of this class directly contributed to China economic disasters. As early as 1930s in Jiangxi soviet districts, Gong Chu observed that the overall economic output drastically decreased after land reform because the poor, for lack of ability, remained to be poor after they were given good lands, and the landlords, though able, entrepreneurial and industrious, were either killed or driven away.

China's social stratification has never been rigid ever since ancient times. There was a state exam system that constantly syphoned the ambitious and able from the bottom to the top, which contributed to China's social stability. It was the communists who created an aristocracy insolent and unfeeling, whose suffocating effects were most severe during Mao's era and are still ubiquitous today.

  • . India professed non-violence, but fought numerous wars and seized Southern Tibet, Sikkim, the Seven Sisters, Kashmir, Goa and Tamil Nadu by force. - Hyderabad?? – user4514 May 14 '17 at 20:48
  • Not a factual answer. Also ask those 30 million killed during cultural revolution and great leap forward about this "Every Indian man has an uncontrollable impulse to inflict cruelty.". – Rolen Koh Aug 21 '17 at 8:28

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