The Elephant and the Dragon

As I count down toward the India Chazen Trip starting on 27th December 2011, I wonder how this trip will change my view about India. Business school students are generally more culturally seasoned, and probably know that Indians don’t keep elephants as pets, not all Indians are vegetarians, and they don’t speak “Indian”. However, with limited knowledge of this country, I have mixed feelings toward this trip. On one hand, I am excited about exploring the Indian culture because I practice Yoga and love the food. I am also curious about what makes India one of BRIC. On the other hand, I can’t help but be wary of the poor conditions in India, especially after watching Slumdog Millionaire and hearing how my colleagues had gotten sick from drinking water…

While China has been under the market’s spotlight because of its tremendous growth, envious export surpluses, powerful central government, etc., I learned not to overlook India after reading India’s surprising economic miracle and A bumpier but freer road from the Economist provided in the Reading Packet for the trip. A few interesting facts:

  • India’s GDP was expected to grow at 8.5% in 2010; India would overtake China in terms of growth by 2013. However, China’s economy is still 4 times larger than India’s and it would take the Indian economy a long time to surpass the Chinese in term of size.
  • India’s dependency ratio – the proportion of children and elderly to working-age adults – currently stands at 56%. It is one of the best in the world and will remain so for a generation. China’s dependency ratio is currently 40% but is deteriorating rapidly because of its one-child policy.
  • While China’s growth has been largely state-directed, India’s is driven by 45 million entrepreneurs. Successful enterprises are now competing on a global scale. E.g. Tata Motors, best known for making two-thousand-dollar cars, also owns Jaguar and Land Rover. (We are going to meet with executives from Tata on this trip!)
  • India’s adult literacy rate is only 66%; China’s is 93%. Nearly half of children under five are malnourished in India.
  • 200 of India’s 588 districts are affected by a Maoist insurgency called the Naxalite Movement.

In short, despite the poor infrastructure, private Indian businesses are fueling economic growth at an astonishing rate. On this trip, let’s learn more about this elephant and see if can overtake the dragon soon…

Now I should start packing. Stay tuned for more! First stop: New Delhi.

Stephanie Cheung’12

Picture sources:,,

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