India is more stable than most Asian countries
India is among the most stable countries in Asia, according to Swiss scholar
Professor Gilbert Etienne.
"Despite its communal troubles, India never went through
any deep crisis like China, Pakistan, Afghanistan or Iran where the
state and the nation were in danger," writes Professor Etienne in
China-India-Pakistan: Disparities and weak links in
economic performance, a book brought out by the Rajiv Gandhi
for Contemporary Studies.
Professor Etienne, who teaches at the Graduate Institute of
International Studies, Geneva, said changes of Indian government following
elections happen smoothly like in Europe.
''The judiciary, in spite
of serious weaknesses, remains reliable. Besides, judges assert
themselves, as seen in a number of corruption cases,'' he writes.
Comparatively, the book said the introduction of democracy in
Pakistan has so far remained an uneasy process.
''The weakness of the
institutions combined to a number of local tensions, violent
struggles and rivalries do affect development,'' Professor Etienne states.
The book has a word of praise for former finance minister
Dr Manmohan Singh. While comparing the attitude of the leadership
of India and Pakistan on economic reforms, it says it is odd but
encouraging that in both countries reforms were introduced by weak
governments. In India, the process was relatively sustained, thanks
to Dr Manmohan Singh.
"Without Dr Singh, reforms might have not gone
so far as they did. Unlike many Indian politicians, he had a vision
of what had to be done," the Swiss scholar holds.
About China, the book says it has not had stable, well-rooted political
institutions since 1911. The judiciary and the legal systems, though
progressing, have still a long way to go. The predominance of the
Communist party is
unquestionable. Individual freedom has, however, made
considerable progress 'in all matters of life.'
"The press can be
quite critical of weaknesses, wrong policies, malpractices,
corruption... Officials can be outspoken as in India and Pakistan
when discussing development issues,'' says Disparities and weak links in
Unlike the Chinese, the Indians introduced their reforms on a
low key, fearing to provoke too much opposition. A relatively weak
government within the country's democratic set-up partly explains why
reformers had to proceed more cautiously and gradually than in
According to Professor Etienne, the coalition government in New Delhi, as
well as the state governments,
are now openly in favour of
liberalisation and keen to attract private investment.
About Indo-Pak relations, Professor Etienne says: ''Let us
hope the detente appearing in 1997 will grow, because a climate
of continuous tensions, incidents, arms race is not quite compatible
with faster economic growth. In East Asia, it is not rare to hear
such comments on the subcontinent.''
The book said despite spectacular progress in China and
substantial achievements in India and Pakistan,
a number of weak links appear within all three. Several of these
could be overcome or
reduced in a medium term perspective, such as fiscal deficit and
subsidies, especially in South Asia, curbing inflation particularly
in Pakistan. A more efficient management of banking systems is
also needed, perhaps
more so in China and Pakistan than in India.
The book said the Chinese economy has expanded at a much
faster rate than India's or Pakistan's, one of the reasons being
that neither of the latter countries have a Hong Kong at their door.