While the Chinese state is making an all-out effort to conquer the IT and outsourcing arenas, and is making headway, India remains a chief competitor because of her inherent strengths: English language skills, IT and management education, and hands-on experience since the earliest days of the age of personal computing. Global management consulting firm A.T. Kearney’s 2005 ranking of the most attractive offshoring locations places India at the very top of the list, with China in second place. But according to the report, China is so far behind India that the gap between them is “larger than the gap between the next nine countries combined.”
Beyond IT and outsourcing, where India is the clear winner, the area of high-end manufacturing is also being dominated by India. In sectors as diverse as automobile manufacturing and auto parts, telecom, hardware, engineering goods, steel, packaging, even fashion and jewellery, India is emerging as a competitive manufacturing hub. Delhi’s emphasis on creating more and more Special Economic Zones for manufacturing across the country is further boosting the country’s manufacturing boom.
The soaring innovative streak and driving entrepreneurial spirit of the Indian people are key ingredients cheering India to the finish line ahead of China. In contrast, the authoritative Chinese regime may be in a position to command that a factory increase their production but cannot command them to “innovate better”.
India’s other strengths are its entrepreneurship, the global perspective of its leaders and managers, and its ability to manage complex global business, thanks to several generations of Western-trained elite.
In their defense, China’s strong points are currently their abundant access to capital and their healthy blend of good universal education. Allowing a small crack in the wall of Communism’s absolute control over all aspects of life and business, the Chinese government has opened a small degree of private ownership of companies (the richest person in the country is a woman whose company recycles paper), but full freedom is not even on the drawing board.
Former Economist editor Bill Emmott believes that India has an advantage, since it is not plagued by any major internal issues of stability or ethnic disputes beyond the challenge of inclusive growth that reaches out to the country’s poor. Our philosophy of destiny and acceptance of our lot as “God’s wish” is a major stabilising influence, and one that will give the country the time it desperately needs to fix its problems of equity for all.