Gulati, Ashok and Shenggen Fan. (eds.) The Dragon & The Elephant: Agricultural and Rural Reforms in China and India. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007. 548 pp.
Nearly a third of the world's population resides in two countries, India and China. Both are powerhouses on several levels: military, political and of course, economic. And yet, while both enjoy high rates of economic growth, both also have high rates of poverty concentrated in, most especially, their rural peripheries. It is this concern, and the various development activities, policies and reforms which Delhi and Beijing have implemented over the past several decades, which are the central topics of this very dense edited volume.
The book is divided into a series of primary themes: access to land, health and education; investments in technology and irrigation; market and trade reforms; rural diversification; poverty alleviation and safety nets, and lessons learned. In virtually every instance, chapters are offered which compare the Chinese case and then the Indian one, allowing the reader to get a sense of the similarities and the differences between the rural economic conditions of these two global giants, the policies undertaken to improve their circumstances, and the degree to which these policies proved useful and effective over the past half-century.
On the one hand, what is striking is just how similar the two experiences have been since WWII as the two jockeyed for regional (if not, global) hegemony in the evolving capitalist economy. On the other hand, a number of differences help, in part, to explain the success rates of these two principals. Dissimilar government structures; levels of openness to free markets and free trade; timing of...