China and India: The Institutional Roots of Differential Performance

19 Sep 2008
Prof. Ashwani Saith
Venue: Seminar Hall, CSDS
Time: 6:00 PM

China and India: The Institutional Roots of Differential Performance

19 September 2008

The 5th Giri Deshingkar Memorial Lecture

By Prof. Ashwani Saith

 About the Speaker

Prof. Ashwani Saith studied economics for his BA and MA degrees while at St. Stephen's College, Delhi, and was subsequently at Trinity College, Cambridge for his Ph.D in economics. He has held teaching and research positions at the Delhi School of Economics, Faculty of Economics & Politics of the University of Cambridge, Queen Elizabeth House, Oxford, London School of Economics and Political Science, and the Institute of Social Studies, The Hague. He was Professor of Development Studies (1996-2007) and Head of the Development Studies Institute (1996-2001) at LSE, and has been Dean of ISS. He has served on the editorial boards of many academic journals, including: Journal of Development Studies, Journal of Peasant Studies, Journal of Agrarian Change,Labour and Development, Indian Journal of Labour Economics, Indian Journal of Human Development, and especially Development and Change where he has been the economics editor since 1984. He has researched and published widely on development issues, especially: poverty and socio-economic security; millennium development goals; intra- and international migration; agrarian change and rural development; longitudinal village studies; agrarian economic history; ICTs and development; and reforms and systemic transitions. He has close working links with SEWA in Ahmedabad, and with WIEGO in Harvard, and extensive research collaborations with many UN agencies, including ILO, FAO, IFAD and UNRISD. He has maintained a longstanding interest in Chinese development, and has made many short and intensive research trips into rural China since 1979, and more recently advised the UNDP and the Chinese Government on improved methodologies for the recognition and measurement of poverty. He is currently Professor at ISS, The Hague, Visiting Professor at LSE, UK, and Visiting Professor at the Institute for Human Development, New Delhi


At the start of the so-called development race sixty years ago, China, showcasing revolutionary socialism, and India, boasting parliamentary democracy, had close similarities in economic structures and levels of development. There were also striking differences in terms of cultural cohesion, institutional flexibility and political orientation. The outcome of the race is unambiguous: the relevant question is not who won, but why and how?

It is argued that a wide margin had already opened up in China’s favour by the time of the systemic or policy-regime switchpoints, 1978 in China, and shortly thereafter in India.

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