Friday, July 24, 2009

China – what’s different there ?

Since 2000, China is the buzzword for every multinational company’s CEO. Everyday you would read about major multinational senior executives making the trip to the Oriental. After all, how many 1.3 billion consumer markets exist in the world. China’s rapid economic expansion has been the epicenter of discussion among the leading economists across the world. Many considered this rise unattainable, however for the last decade; China has continuously maintained this growth rate. And the icing on the cake was the Beijing Olympics; all the critics and the skepticals were silenced by the robotic efficiency with which China organized the games. No doubt, the mammoth Beijing 2008 Olympics are considered the grandest Olympics ever.
Gradually, China has replaced Japan as the Asian economic superpower and many feel this ascent will only bring to a halt after China reaches the numero uno economy position in the world.

Like everyone else, I was baffled by this sudden political & economical rise of China. After all India & China were considered 3rd world countries quarter a century back. We Indians took comfort in the myth that China & India despite our growth potentials were not evolving not because of our internal policies but because of the flaws in the economic system of the world. However, the rapid development in China in last decade has left India way behind of China economically & politically.

I am fortunate enough to visit Beijing for a month in 2009 and am excited at the prospect of uncovering the dragon and its secrets behind the success. Unlike many Indians who visit China for business, I was there to learn Mandarin, and was given
ample opportunities to learn the language and interact with the locals.
Interacting with them, I realized why China is doing so great and why are we so left behind. If you would want to describe the key differentiator between the 2 economies and people mindset in one word, it is DISCIPLINE. Yes, it sounds so simple and unambiguous but there is much more to it than just that. .
Lets not categorize discipline as something like “When a person is disciplined, he or she possesses the trait of being well-behaved. In this context, the word discipline is related to the words conduct, behaviour and deportment”.
I would rather place discipline as a way of being, a way of existence.
Regularity is their forte – I haven’t seen my teachers, bus drivers, guides, Chinese acquaintances- anybody being late even once. They consider being late an offence, a dishonor and I am astonished by the seriousness by which they follow this rule.
Another amazing quality among them is their simplicity. Regardless of their position in the society, I found all of them being very humble, graceful and courteous.
This reflects in their work culture. They consider their work sacred and are proud of it. This makes them more efficient and productive.
And the most important of all their qualities is their nationalism. Man, I am really impressed by their patriotism and pride for their country and the Government. They are very patriotic because this is what they learn to be. Lets not get into the aspect behind this nationalism (misinformation or rather lack of it), but nonetheless it’s a mind boggling attribute.
I compare Indian population’s perception and thought process with this kind of pride and I feel disheartened.
We have adopted the good as well as more of the bad from the western society. If the Indian companies are run the way American companies are managed, then why not the Indian Public Administration. I feel that Indian Civil Service is completely flawed. Not a single developed country has the civil administration system the way India has. Indian Bureaucracy is in shambles and their efficiency or lack of it is universally acclaimed.
If we could trust our Government and not question it for every action it performs, maybe for a refreshing change, the Government would focus more on doing their work than answering our questions, and hence be more efficient.

There have been several learnings for me in this trip and am confident there will be more.

Keep checking out this space for more.

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