Soup, noo­dles with curry, roti is Asian recipe for win-win

China Daily (Canada) - - BUSINESS - By SIVA SANKAR

It’s al­most com­ing to one month since I re­lo­cated from Mum­bai to Bei­jing, and all this talk of In­dia stand­ing to ben­e­fit from China’s re­cent eco­nomic tur­bu­lence is al­ready ap­pear­ing down­right silly.

Enough has been al­ready said about GDP growth rates, stock mar­ket, debt and cur­rency lev­els, oil and com­mod­ity prices, cur­rent ac­count deficits and im­pact of the Fed’s non-moves, so I won’t get started on them. Con­sen­sus every­where is statis­tics and such have lit­tle sanc­tity th­ese days.

In­stead, letme share a few thoughts and ob­ser­va­tions. Blame the re­cent glo­ri­ous Bei­jing weather — Lon­don­ers would trade their lives for it— ifmy ideas ap­pear too good to be true.

The key to In­dia’s pros­per­ity lies not in China’s woes but ex­treme bi­lat­eral eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion, which could be a win-win global game-changer. In­dia could even be long-term in­sur­ance for China.

It’s a no-brainer, ac­tu­ally. Just look at Asia in a world map— you’ll prob­a­bly agree. Won­der why neigh­bors “IC” have not emerged a pow­er­ful coali­tion within BRICS yet.

On Bei­jing’s roads, as I ob­serve the wide range of two- and three­wheel­ers, in­clud­ing the silent, smoke­less com­mer­cial elec­tric ve­hi­cles, pizza-de­liv­ery mopeds, ul­tra-small cars, I won­der if they are China’s best-kept se­cret. Not many In­di­ans are aware of th­ese ve­hi­cles that could po­ten­tially change how China is per­ceived in In­dia.

Many In­di­ans re­fer to ubiq­ui­tous made-in-China goods as “China maal”, aHindi phrase that has pe­jo­ra­tive over­tones. “China stuff” is re­garded cheap but sub­stan­dard. That does not stop In­dian con­sumers though from mak­ing a bee­line for Xiaomi smart­phones that sell like hot cakes on e-com­merce sites.

China’s two- and three-wheel­ers, in­clud­ing bi­cy­cles, I see, are ef­fi­cient, user-friendly, and cute— de­sign- and size-wise. They ap­pear af­ford­able too. HowI wish I could ex­port mil­lions of them to In­dia overnight! In­dia needs them badly. In­dia’s two- and three-wheeler mak­ers some­how never in­vest much in re­search and de­vel­op­ment in­no­va­tion and de­sign.

This could spell a huge op­por­tu­nity for China. With in­fras­truc­ture al­ready in place but growth al­legedly slow­ing, all that China needs to do is to fa­cil­i­tate ex­port of th­ese two- and three-wheel­ers to In­dia.

China’s im­pres­sive wide roads, spa­cious pave­ments, or­derly cityscapes, wide range of sur­face trans­port and fool-proof elec­tric­ity ap­pa­ra­tus sug­gest that its ex­per­tise in 21st cen­tury ur­ban plan­ning and ex­e­cu­tion of mega in­fras­truc­ture projects could be a big ex­port item in it­self. Knowl­edge can be mon­e­tized.

Andhra Pradesh state’s new­cap­i­tal Amar­a­vati is be­ing built by Sin­ga­pore. It is con­ceiv­able that China could bag sim­i­lar projects in fu­ture.

As I was brush­ingmy teeth around 8 amoneMon­day, the door­bell rang. I was stunned to see JD.com’s de­liv­ery man with a cou­ple of home ap­pli­ances I had bought on­line around 3 pmon Sun­day. I learn lead­ing Chi­nese e-com­merce firms are known for su­perquick ser­vice.

Now, e-com­merce is a boom­ing sec­tor in In­dia. A few­star­tups are al­ready uni­corns. But none can still match JD.com or Taobao, in terms of quick ser­vice at no ex­tra cost. I see this as ex­per­tise that can be ex­ported to In­dia and mon­e­tized.

Why, Bei­jing’s waste dis­posal sys­tem seems to be far su­pe­rior to Mum­bai’s. I have not seen stink­ing garbage fall­ing off over­loaded, poorly cov­ered rub­bish trans­port ve­hi­cles. I no­ticed that a Chaoyang dis­trict rub­bish-pro­cess­ing unit is largely odor­less. There is scope for city-level co­op­er­a­tion be­tween Chi­nese and In­dian mu­nic­i­pal bod­ies.

In­dia could be key to China’s “Made in China 2025” pol­icy that un­der­lines high-speed rail, new-en­ergy ve­hi­cles and in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy. In­dia needs high-speed trains badly. In­dia’s Rail­wayMin­is­ter Suresh Prabhu is con­sid­ered prag­matic, so, with some carpe diem spirit, China could win some big ex­port or­ders. In­dia’s ex­per­tise in in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy can en­er­gize China’s push to up­grade its manufacturing sec­tor.

On­myMum­bai-Chengdu flight, my co-pas­sen­ger was Kapil Patil, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Unikorn Coat­ings, a Nashik, Ma­ha­rash­tra­based firm, who was on his way to buy a Chi­nese ma­chine that can make pow­der-coated paint for in­dus­trial use. That’s money flow­ing into China from In­dia.

Rather than see­ing each other as com­peti­tors, if China and In­dia ride the cit­i­zen-level nat­u­ral bond­ing and rise above po­lit­i­cal and ide­o­log­i­cal dif­fer­ences to tread com­mon eco­nomic ground to pros­per­ity, Asia would drive this cen­tury.

Con­tact the writer at siva@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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