Forum: India should set own vision and goals for economic development

Diplomat Kishore Mahbubani provides plenty of valuable foresight and ideas on how India can become an economic superpower like the United States and China one day (Can India become stronger than China? Yes, it can, Aug 18).

The size of China's economy will surpass that of the US in the coming years. However, it will take a few decades for its per capita gross domestic product (GDP), which is currently at US$18,931 (S$25,662), according to the International Monetary Fund, to come close to that of the US (US$68,309). India's per capita GDP is at US$7,333.

China moved many workers from the less productive primary sector (with jobs such as those in mining, farming and fishing) to the secondary (manufacturing) and tertiary (jobs that provide services) sectors.

About 23.6 per cent of China's workforce was in the primary sector last year, compared with 36.7 per cent in 2010.

Currently, India has a large portion of its workers in the primary sector (42 per cent). It should build up its infrastructure and invite foreign investment to achieve economic transformation. There is no shortcut in the process of raising a country's per capita GDP.

In 1979, American sociologist Ezra Vogel wrote a book titled Japan As Number One: Lessons For America. The size of Japan's economy at the time was much smaller than America's. Yet, Dr Vogel rated Japan as the world's most effective industrial power, not only in terms of economic productivity, but also in its ability to govern efficiently, to educate its citizens, to control crime, to alleviate energy shortages and to lessen pollution.

GDP is just one of the many benchmarks of development. India could learn from Dr Vogel's book to attain a more balanced development across various arenas.

There are many differences between India, the US and China. India should set its own vision and goals in its transformation.

Albert Ng Ya Ken

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