I received an email from a list that I am on. The basic tenor of the email was that India is somehow better than China. Well, I certainly hope so because I want India to be better than China, of course. But it was the gloating that made me uncomfortable. Here’s what that email was about.
There’s a special report in BusinessWeek about the world’s 50 most innovative companies.
The email helpfully listed the nationality of the top 50 innovative firms and their country wise distribution as:
South Korea 1
The email noted:
The two Indian industrial groups, included for the first time, are the Tatas and the Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Group. The Tata group is ranked 6th and Reliance 19th.
The Tata group ranks well above IBM, BMW, Honda Motor, General Motors, Boeing, Audi and Daimler.
Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance ranks above companies like Boeing, Exxon and BP.
The most interesting thing is that not a single Chinese company is considered innovative enough to make it to the list. [Emphasis in the original mail.]
Like I said, it was gloating over the fact that no Chinese corporations show in that list. Then I did a bit of reckoning. How innovative is India, based on the data provided in that article? To judge that, I thought that normalizing the data is important for purposes of comparison. I did the normalizing on population. For making the calculations easier, I assumed India’s population to be approximately 1 billion (a lower bound.) I consulted the CIA World Fact Book for the populations of the countries listed above. Here’s the list of countries and the normalized number of top innovative firms. Normalizing on the population I get a total of 808 firms which are distributed thus:
South Korea 50
Looking at those population-normalized numbers, you can see that Singapore and Finland are about one 100 times more innovative than India. The US is about 50 times, and so on. Yes, India has a score of 2 out of 808. So seen at this scale, 2 is not all that different from a score of 0, which is what China gets.
I am convinced that India fares poorly for the same reason that China does: there is no freedom in either of the two countries. Sure, India has political “freedom” — but you know what I think of India’s “Cargo Cult Democracy.” Without true economic freedom, a country is doomed to poverty. We need to learn that lesson soon.
A bit of introspection and a little bit less of gloating would serve us well.