Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking
- J.M. Keynes

Sunday, 2 June 2013

India vs China - The last graph in the debate

The Economist's article on global poverty has a graph which effectively settles the India vs. China comparison (A version of the original reproduced below). 

Poverty Distribution

Source: Chandy L., Ledlie N., Penciakova V., The Final Countdown: Prospects for Ending Extreme Poverty by 2030, The Brookings Institution, April 2013

Chest thumping about democracy, free press and other standard arguments cannot excuse India's abysmal record in reducing poverty. Over the last 20-odd years while China has pulled a huge majority of its citizens out of poverty, India seems to have twiddled its thumbs. The marginal change in the peak to the left of $1.25 and the fattening of the tail on the right tells India's story quite succinctly. The relatively better off and better connected made hay while India shone while the great majority continued to live in darkness (often literally given the abysmal state of electricity generation and provision). No amount of moralistic posturing can condone such a monumental failure of government.

P.S. While I believe that Chinese growth has been lopsided and the day of denouement is near but even if China experiences a mammoth crash it is unlikely to massively reverse progress on poverty elimination. And ultimately that is the material point.

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