The difference was not started in a sudden from 80s…It started from 1949.
To describe it in a metaphor: China and India were both kittens in 1949. The difference is, China transformed into a tigerling in first 30 years. When people questioning about the difference in “size”, they didn’t realize the complete difference of inner essence.
One can’t get the answer when he only see half of the event. Without knowing the enlightment movement happened simultaneously, one just could not explain the secret behind Chinese industrial revolution.
China in 1949 was a not-even-wrong country, it was a horrible shithole. You can have a look on Angus Maddison’s research. He was the author of The World Economy: A Millennial Perspective, one of the chief economist of OECD, and widely recognized as a leading scholar in macro history of economy. Home Maddison. All indexes of China then, no matter humanistic or economical, were worse than the average of black Africa( the region between Sahara and South Africa).
If we use India as a comparasion, in 1950, India had 3 times more railway than China. The life expectancy of Indian was 5–6 years more than Chinese. On major industrial outputs like steel, fertilizer, coal, cement, electricity .etc, India was ahead of China in magnitude level.
These data proved that the rocket growth of Chinese economy was not started from 1970s, it started from 1950. Despite a handful of disastrous mistakes, the economy of PRC managed to grow 7.2% in its first 30 years, the annualized growth rate of agriculture and industry output was over 7% even during the chaotic decade of the Cultural Revolution. In seemingly economy, China was folds smaller than India in 1949, almost equal in 1980. But due to profound modernization in culture didn’t really happen in India, the growth of China was always much faster. This “faster” just became visible in recent 2 decades, but it has existed since the very beginning.
China made a comprehensive transformation to culture, but India didn’t.
What China strived but India overlooked is this:
What are they doing? This was the PLA Sport Meeting in 1952. These soldiers were atheletes of racing. There was an abnormal rule: start running after writting.
This was just a small corner of nationalwide, 33-year-long, anti-illiteracy compaign.
Soldiers! Watch the backpack in front of you, you should remember these characters after this march!
Cowherd boys, classroom on the cowback:
Troupe performed dramas about anti-illiteracy,
and actors and actresses also continued their study after getting off the stage.
60 years passed, and I’m still deeply touched by their thirst of knowledge.
Did such anti-illiteracy compaign create any profit to anyone? Nope. On the contrary, it was a huge expenditure of government. Education is very costly for a country drown in illiteracy, what makes it worse is that the spending in education shall be unrequited in at least a decade.
Anti-illiteracy was just one of many aspect of social restore works PRC did in her early era.
Have you heard “bare-foot doctors”? These amateur doctors with a small medical kit, was the hidden backbone of how China doubled both population and life expectency and exterminated several epidemic, despite it was under a total blockade from the West.
Have you ever questioned that happened to make Chinese women became most independent and equal in Asia? Only 70 years ago, they were still oppressed worse than what happened under Taliban. Now, 2/3 of self-made female billionares are Chinese citizens.
Have you ever heard about “educated youth(知青)”? And the heavy meaning within this simple word? The personal well-being of entire generation of educated youngsters were sacrificed, as the country called upon and assigned them to most remote, backward and rural area of China to lit a spark of enlightment over there.
The list goes on and on, and none of them would be shown by economical chart. Even if they were mentioned, they were intepreted as part of radical political campaign. But afterall, these money and effort were not thrown into nonsense, they made PEOPLE better, then the economical feedback came after the painstaking but wise investement. It’s plain simple: better people would do better in work.
Nobody can deny that machine and structure are symbol of industrilisation, and China indeed increased a lot of them in that period. What people usually failed to mention is how greatly China did beyond the material level, something which is more in essential: the people itself is mordernized. The outstanding economy growth of China, at then and after then, did not come from nowhere. It is just a completely deserved, but long-waited, reward of investment into the mass of population.
You had never known how could each of bare-foot doctors healed hundreds of patient and educated thousands about epidemic prevention in their endless journey. So you wonder how life-expectancy of Chinese doubled in 3 decades.
You had never seen how the state enpowered women with economy independence, guaranteed their equal civil right by the very first law of the People’s Republic, encouraged them to get organized and fight for their entitlement against any man who dares to be bossy. So you wonder how come today’s Chinese women can do every job man does, even those considered man-only in most other countries.
You had never seen how many “educated youth” devoted their lifetime in barren lands to bring knowledge and start construction. So you wonder why Indian farmer are given much better water, heat and soil condition than their Chinese counterparts, but the yield harvest of Chinese farmer are folds more.
You had never really understand how dedicated Chinese government was in practising compulsory education. So you wonder why China could have one shared writing and 98% literacy, while many ethincs within India still can’t understand each other, even now 1/4 of population still can’t read or write.
And, at last, if you have no idea about the enlightment movement happened in China which India missed, how could you understand the difference between economy perfomance of China and India?
PRC, in her early era, despite already did outstandingly in economy growth, was actually focused social and cultural transformation. In other worlds, modernizing the people itself was parallel, if not prior, to modernizing economy.
During this era, Chinese people was transformed from divisive, contemptuous,backward, feudalistic, ignorant, violent, obscurant, drug-addicted, discriminatory etc. mobs, incubated by a declining agricultural civilization, into unified, confident, progressive, enterprising, disciplined, self-awared, equal, enlightened, healthy, etc. citizens, adapted to an emerging industrial civilization.
The world outside China seems have no awareness of such a great social transform project. It is very tricky and confusing when someone only research the Chinese miracle from 1978s and only focusing on the economical policies, because such an angle completely neglected how greatly and profoundly PRC achieved from 1949–78.
You really want to know the reason why China grow faster than India? I mean, really? No matter how horrible it sounds? No matter how grim the truth would be?
Well, it may looks like sedition, but I give the credit to the Liberation, which formally defined as Neo-Democratic Revolution (1919–1949). It was the vital factor that made China could reach where it is today. During this period, Chinese people toppled down feudalism, imperialism and bureaucratic capitalism in China.
How could “liberation” related to “development”?
Well, you see, when 400 million peasants were no longer private serfs, when 50 million (yes, 7 zeros) opium-addicted were rehabilitated, when morality and custom could no longer transgress law, when women were no longer accessory of men, when doctor and teacher expelled witch and sorcerer, when the elected government took over the administration in grass-root level from local clans and gangs… the people are getting much healthier, more energetic, more independent, so they work more efficiently.
More, the Liberation brought much more people into real labor force. It did so in a much larger scale than any other single historical event ever. The women were liberated from men, so the talent of half a population were no longer locked in bedroom. Peasants were liberated from landlords, so the life of 400 million were no longer chainned on the farmland of a rich, they began to have a career to pursue. The younsters were liberated from feudal ethical code, so they were no longer puppet of elders. It worked as this mechanism.
The Liberation made a huge amount of people to join economic activity, and also made them work more effectively than ever. China made such a progress in an unprecedented scale in human history. It naturally should lead to a miraculous economic growth.
As I said, the fact is grim. Since our old aristocrats immersed in the illusion of perfect heavenly empire, our nation reluctantly rejected modernisation. The gap between them and us were only getting more and more desperating. Our civilization was rushing faster and faster towards the brink of irretrievable. To turn the fate of withering away, it would take dearly cost. To achieve the Liberation, the long war before it was also necessary. There is no way to reach the result without going through the process.
In the harsh and everlasting struggle of revolution, consciously or not, everyone eventually choose the side among different levels of progressive or conservative. At last, the most reactionary part within the nation were removed. To gain the final victory, the revolutionary gradually forged a powerful military and a government with enough wisdom and resolution in timeless war.
With the prevail of revolution, China could minimize the internal obstruction while profoundly modernizing the country. With such a strong ability in organizing, Chinese government could handle such a complex project (industrial revolution in economy + enlightment movement in society) mostly on track. With such a battle-hardened and war-proved army, China could defeat anyone’s attempt to halt its modernization.
India was lucky to avoid millions of death as the cost of revolution. However, it’s kind of like a karma, India also missed the chance of a true and thorough modernization.