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The Elephant And The Dragon Book Report

4136 words - 17 pages

If you were to look at a history of global economics over the years, you would find that many countries achieve (and sometimes fall from) economic superpower status. Examples of such countries include the U.S, the U.K, and Japan. The most current countries to join that list are India and China. However, whether they stay that way has yet to be seen. The Elephant and the Dragon written by Robyn Meredith takes a look at both countries’ rise to economic superpower status, and how it affects us now as well as the future. To achieve this Meredith begins with a recent history of each of the countries by examining the political and social factors related to the each of the countries’ rise.  This is ...view middle of the document...

This one action started the dominos falling that would eventually lead to opening China’s markets to the West.  Meredith mentions that it is important to note however, that even though capitalism was starting to flourish, the political climate had not changed. “The leaders [of the Communist Party] calculated that they needed to engineer economic growth…or risk protests that could lead to an overthrow of the party” (pg.25). “Above all, the Communist Party leaders prized political stability, and they were willing to reverse the very essence of party doctrine and accept capitalism to achieve it” (pg.25). According to Meredith, the Chinese leaders did so by banning liberties like freedom of expression. Chinese citizens, after realizing what lengths the government will go to limit freedom of expression, decided to give up and accept their reality. Meredith closes the chapter noting that despite China’s difficult past, it is inarguable that the quality of life for the average Chinese citizen has greatly improved.
Looking back at China’s history, it’s hard not to ask how Mao expected his plans to work practically. The thing is that his plans (like collectivized farming), in and of themselves were not entirely bad ideas. It seems the problems that arose were far more related to his ego, and a lack of experts to help him with planning and execution. In the book, Meredith mentions that officials were reporting “wildly inflated grain production in their regions…to please Mao by confirming that his collectivization was a brilliant success” (pg. 18). This is a clear indication that Mao believed himself infallible, and therefore remained purposefully ignorant of the real situation. The lack of expert advisors was also a problem. While discussing the implementation of Mao’s collectivized farming plan, Meredith talks about how Communist Party administrators were telling farmers which crops to plant and how to plant them. This was one of the key factors that led to “a nationwide famine in which between 30 and 40 million starved to death between 1959 and 1962”. It would be reasonable to say that if people knowledgeable in the areas of agriculture and farming were telling farmers which crops to plant and how to plant them, this massive famine wouldn’t have occurred. With the dragon’s history covered, Meredith moves on to the elephant in the room, India.
The second chapter of The Elephant and the Dragon tackles India’s rise to economic power. Meredith opens the chapter with an in-depth look at India’s 1991 economic crisis.
1991 was truly a dire year for India, as Meredith describes it. India was broke, inflation was at 17%, and 2 out of every 5 Indians was below the poverty line. Unfortunately for India, in May, prime minister candidate Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated. Due in part to the public’s sympathy vote, Rajiv’s party won the election for power, and Narasimha Rao was chosen to be prime minister. With the country in crisis, Mr. Rao got to work...

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