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November 12, 2009

Audacity: China's winning edge

Arvind Singhal of Technopak has an article in the Business Standard comparing India and China.
Both got their independence around the same time, had similar scale of economies and challenges, and then both lost a few decades due to misplaced ideology. China started its reform process in 1978, while India did it in 1991. Yet, today, even the most optimistic on India would not claim that India in 2022 will be where China is in 2009.

If a single word can explain the difference between China and India.., it is “audacity” in case of China, and lack of it when it comes to India. At different stages in its history, Chinese rulers have dreamt audaciously and executed their dreams resolutely and ruthlessly. At different stages in Indian history, the rulers have chosen to negotiate, compromise, take the path of least resistance, or have left things to divinity. Post-Independence, we have even misinterpreted the Gandhian notion of austerity to justify our very “small” thinking, and have taken shelter behind “democracy” for our inaction or lack of spine. While China demolishes the old to make way for the new, we regularise illegal encroachments of public land. While China built world-class manufacturing capabilities, we kept our industry reserved under small-scale for decades. While China builds world-best, pan-nation, highly-futuristic infrastructure, our visionless politicians squabble over naming of small “flyovers” in their names.

India’s challenges are humungous, and, therefore, we urgently need audacious politicians, audacious bureaucrats, audacious entrepreneurs, and audacious thinking matched with resolute, sometimes ruthless execution.

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private equity, venture capital and M&A deals in India. View free samples of Venture Intelligence newsletters and reports. Email the author at