Dragon development, tiger economy

S Madhusudhana Rao

In capitalist philosophy, competition helps consumers as the competitors produce better quality goods at competitive prices to sell more. At least in theory, it sounds good. But, in practice, whether the principle works to the satisfaction of consumers is a different thing. Market forces and conditions, demand and supply and user preferences, product branding are among many other factors that determine the failure and success of competing sides not only in business but even in politics.

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S Madhusudhana Rao

A political case in point is the way the Chief Ministers of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are trying to score over the other at every level. It is no secret that both K Chandrasekhar Rao and N Chandrababu Naidu want to put their respective Telugu states on the world map and they are going extra mile (thousands of miles, in fact) to woo investors and invite foreign capital.

For KCR, the job is a lot easier because Hyderabad is already a well-developed city and is globally known for its IT, pharma and ancillary industries and defence gear manufacturing. Chandrababu has no such inherited advantage. He has to build his Andhra Pradesh state from the scratch in bringing it up to acceptable global standards which is why his task is herculean and cut out.

In their bid to accelerate development, both CMs look towards development models. While Chandrababu is very much inspired by Singapore and Japan growth stories, KCR is swept off his feet by the dragon economy after his just-concluded China visit. During his 10-day trip, the Telangana CM and his 12-member delegation had visited many places to study Chinese progress first-hand. The dazzling urban development has impressed him so much that he is reported to have decided to send all his party MLAs, MPs and senior government officials to China on study tours in batches. They will go by regular commercial flights, not by a special executive jet as he travelled during his recent trip. KCR also wants to develop Hyderabad on the lines of Beijing.

Strangely, his return coincided with AP Chief Minister going to Singapore to discuss plans to construct the new capital city Amaravati with the city state government officials. Also on the agenda were talks with global corporations on investment in AP. We should admit that both the leaders are working truly in a competitive spirit to make the Telugu states the best among all. But in the missionary zeal to see dazzling development in the twin Telugu states, the constraints the two CMs have to face and the limitations they have in pursuing other countries’ development models are often overlooked.

Both China and Singapore which have showcased their glitzy growth in their steel and glass structures, Metros, swanky shopping malls, spick and span streets and disciplined life are authoritarian. Both are ‘one-party democracies.’  Government orders, people obey. There were many untold stories behind the dazzle of development. Neither the government nor the people would dare to disclose them. To put it simply, some have to sacrifice to make some others happy.

Can Telangana and Andhra Pradesh governments implement plans that they consider change the face of their states’ urban landscape without encountering resistance from the people and opposition parties? For that matter, can they move ahead without facing legal challenges or without running into constitutional hurdles?

China and Singapore conjure up Technicolor dreams on a widescreen but realizing them in Indian democratic way is a task. For that matter, Dubai, one of the most modern metropolises in the world, which is an Arabian Night’s dream coming true. The Rulers of Dubai could raise it from the desert because their writ runs without being questioned. The oft-asked question about China’s development is, at what cost.

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