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Lessons from/for BRICSAM about South–North Relations at the Start of the 21st Century: Economic Size Trumps All Else?

Andrew F. Cooper, Agata Antkiewicz, Timothy M. Shaw
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2486.2007.00730.x 673-689 First published online: 1 December 2007

In the coming decades, China and India will disrupt workforces, industries, companies and markets in ways that we can barely begin to imagine … How these Asian giants integrate with the rest of the world will largely shape the twenty-first century global economy (Business Week 2005:38).

As the Davos program illustrates, India, long overshadowed by China … is the country of the moment. Signs abound of an India surging with self-confidence … At the root of this change is a reappraisal of the country's economic potential. This has been brought on by a jump in the trend growth rate to 7–8%, double the “Hindu rate of growth.”… As the balance of power in the global economy shifts towards Asia, such turbocharged growth rates promise to shorten the time-frame in which India rises up the ranks of the world economic powers (Financial Times 2006:1).

China and India, 49th and 50th, respectively, ranked much more closely than in previous years. While China dropped three ranks, India moved up five places…. India's improved rank mirrors the country's somewhat higher position in the technology index… Both countries continue to suffer from institutional weaknesses which, unless addressed, are likely to slow down their ascension to the top tier of the most competitive economies in the world (WEF 2005:xv).

When it comes to the most important reforms of all, it is China, not India, that seems to be frozen in the headlights. In order to continue to climb the economic ladder, China must create an independent judiciary and give much more social and political freedom to its people. India's legal and electoral systems are highly imperfect, but they have existed for decades and have entered the normal transactions of Indians’ daily lives. Meanwhile, the economy is lifting many more people out of poverty …

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