Saturday, September 21, 2019

Three China Books

The three best China economic development books I have come across. I have read two.

For those in India who hanker after China, these three are chastening reads. 

1. Yuen Yuen Ang - How China Escaped the Poverty Trap (see this review) 

2. Yasheng Huang - Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics (hear this podcast and my summary here)

3. Ning Wang and Ronald Coase - How China Became Capitalist (see this presentation summary)

All three have a common strand - for a highly centralised policy, the tolerance for local experimentation and improvisation is astonishing. This has involved adaptation among all actors - the communist party, the government, the civil society, and the private sector. The dynamics associated with it is fascinating. It could not have been planned. The best that was done was perhaps certain principles of engagement that were appropriate for the cultural and political context of China. Those were then allowed to play itself out under some benign oversight of the Party.

China has great lessons for India. Ironically, it is not the outcome of what it has done - the spectacular growth rates and the global economic and political superpower status - that should attract India. Instead, it should be the HOW of what it has done that should be of relevance to Indians. And figuring out those principles relevant to the Indian context and getting started with them.

Interestingly all three books were written by natives and not western academics. It is perhaps understandable. A complex project like this, and that too about a complex country like China, requires a person whose understanding of the country cannot be learnt. It has to be a deeply internalised output. 

All three are inter-disciplinary scholars. Not mere economists. They are works of true intellectuals and scholarship, weaving multiple strands of inter-disciplinary insights.

When will we have a similar modern India book, with both a historical sweep as well as political, social, and economic depth of analysis? Unfortunately, when I look around, I don't see intellectuals or scholars around in the academia, based here or abroad, who can pull something like this off.

Update 1 (23.09.2019)

Is this by Tirthankar Roy a India version?

1 comment:

Adharsh said...

This is quite good too -