From Anil Nair in Mumbai
Is India poised to surpass China in attracting foreign investments? The latest report released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) is indicative of some trends but not all other reports paint such a rosy picture. In the overall global competitiveness rank, India has gone up five notches while China has slipped three places. In the final tally China is 49th while India is 50th. The Global Competitiveness Report 2005-06 reveals that ?India'simproved rank mirrors the country'ssomewhat higher position in the Technology Index?. The report is based on India'smacro-economic environment, the state of its public institutions and the level of its technological readiness.
Only in the macro-economic environment does India lag behind. But our public institutions and the level of technological readiness are considered to be better than China'sand this is brought out in the rankings. The ability of our people in the technological field to converse in English is also considered to be helping India beat the Chinese competition. But when it comes to China'sability to achieve economies of scale India is a pygmy.
Corruption remains India'sgreatest bane which stifles almost all the progressive measures that successive governments have taken to alleviate poverty and spur economic growth. The top 10 most competitive countries in the world, according to the WEF are Finland, US, Sweden, Denmark, Taiwan, Singapore, Iceland, Switzerland, Norway and Australia. But in Asia the toppers are Taiwan and Singapore which hold 4th and 5th positions. Incidentally, the WEF says that Japan is down to 12th position reflecting its poor performance. The report is even more revealing in telling us that Hong Kong is much lower at 28th place which is a drop of seven notches. When it comes to macro-economic environment India is way behind China. China occupies the 33th position while India is at 50th position. But before we start to celebrate our closing in with China in global competitiveness we should realise that our per capita growth has only been 3.7 per cent between 1980 and 2004 while China has been at a stupendous 8.2 per cent in the same period. The life expectancy in China is 71 years while in India it is only 53 years. The female adult literacy rate in China is at an unbelievable 87 per cent while in India it is at an abysmal 45 per cent. Child mortality (under age five) in China is 37 per thousand while in India it is 87 per thousand.