Interview With Singapore's Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew

The following is a transcript of William Safire's interview with Singapore's Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew, recorded on January 31, 1999 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Q: Do I have your permission to record this?

A: Yes, go ahead.

Q: And so everything we say is on the record, the same way we handled your press conference this morning, which I felt was very valuable. Particularly the answer about China.

A: That's about as far as I can go.

Q: But that was further than most of us thought you would go, which was very interesting.

A : Well, they have got problems. And you learn to recognize their symptoms.

Q: They have big problems. They have deep social unrest that's beginning to bubble up.

A: That's inevitable, with the sudden changes. It cannot be helped. There's just unequal growth, unequal growth within cities, between cities and between provinces that's partly the result of location, history, and just the luck of the draw.

Now, you take Fujian province, opposite Taiwan. And they didn't have this freeze, it would be like Guangdong opposite Hong Kong. And because of the freeze, it's been a war zone almost, until recently. That's just the luck of the draw. So they know. [inaudible]

Q: What do you think about the way they're handling the dissidents? Do you think it's counterproductive? Why do you think there's such fear in the minds of the leaders in Beijing over a relative handful of ...

A: They're never sure of that. They look at Tiananmen. That's a relative handful of students. And people like Fang Lizhi, a harmless physicist, astrophysicist behind them. But it snowballed. They know they're vulnerable.

The biggest single fear they have, it's the corrosive effect of graft, and the revulsion that it evokes in people. They're never quite sure when it will blow up. It's not that they're all corrupt. I mean, you take Jiang Zemin, or Zhu Rongji. In the center, they are quite clean.

I spoke on my first lesson on this when talking to our businessmen. So I said, ""How do you know when you're dealing with them, who's clean?'' They said, ""It's quite easy. As long as they are on the upward path, they want to keep their records clean for further promotions. Once they are moved sideways, they're stagnant.'' And they said, ""Well, they've got to look after themselves in the future.'' And it sets in and it's widespread. And because of that, they really don't notice how much resentment there is. I mean, even in the rural areas, it's just illegal levies. Not on the books. Just squeeze the farmers. He's the boss, and the Party secretary.

Q: But is stability enhanced by the iron fist, or will it be more likely more stable if they had a few escape valves?

A: They're trying that. At the lowest level, they're allowing villagers to elect their own leaders.

Q: But that's already stopped.

A: No, no. That is still going on. That is not stopped. They're hoping to check the excesses of corrupt Party officials. And there have been cases where corrupt Party officials rigged the elections to stay in. And they try and put it right. So they're trying at a very basic level to make sure that there is some popular support.

Q: But you're not critical of them for cracking down on this.

A: It's China. A completely different set of rules. I don't know. We had a ... he is now paralyzed. He was our Ambassador to Brussels, and he was educated in Singapore, and he went to China. His father sent him to Nanking to study during the war. And he wrote up these experiences in his biography. I mean, it's a history of ... oh, just brutish force. How can you change that overnight?

Q: How can you say it's just China, or Asians are different?

A: I'm not saying that Asians are not human beings. I'm just saying that, if they don't punish people that way, people are not afraid.

Q: Right.

A: I mean, you take the way they shoot their criminals. It's a public demonstration. They bring them in, bent, pushed, humiliated. You kneel down, I shoot you in the back; one bullet. And they make the family pay for that one bullet. And it's a public demonstration.

Q: That's rule by fear.

A: Ah, no. It's to terrorize others into not doing the same thing.

Q: That's rule by fear.

A: No. Because they haven't gotten a police system that can maintain a different kind of regime.

Q: But isn't that wrong?

A: Who are we to decide whether it's right or wrong? That's the way they are, and that's the way we have to deal with them.

Q: Okay.

A: Can we change them?

Q: Why not?

A: [Laughter] You try.

Q: They changed the Communist system in the Soviet Union.

A: You look what has happened in the country now.

Q: Isn't it better off today than it was under Stalin?

A: I don't think so. I mean, maybe better off under Stalin, but is it better off than under Gorbachev? I don't think so.

Q: Well, your ...

A: The Mafia is in charge. The police are disorganized. Everything is a racket. State property is being misappropriated all over. Money is stashed abroad. Homes bought in London. Shares bought on the New York Stock Exchange. The country is hungry. How can you say it's better?

Q: It's better than killing 26 million people.

A: [Laughs] That's Stalin, but we are talking about today. I'm talking about Gorbachev, and what exists under Yeltsin.

Q: Well, Gorbachev was a transitional ...

A: I'm saying ...

Q: Out of the depths that Brezhnev and Stalin and the others ...

A: Yes. And I'm saying, or that I'm hoping that Jiang Zemin will be a bridge towards a better China. He is ...

Q: Better China. By ""better,'' do you mean freer? Or more stable?

A: Better governed China. Less brutal, brutish methods of government.

Q: But isn't there a logical inconsistency to what you're saying? As soon as they become less brutish, they have less fear that they instill.

A: No, no.

Q: And there will be more dissidents, and more people feeling that they can speak their mind.

A: No, I think it's a process that's got to be gradual, and the supporting environment ... meaning the society, the standards of living, ability to accept and not be carried away by these changes, wanting too much too quickly, like the students at Tiananmen, that is possible.

I mean, I've given this example again and again, but I'm not sure that Americans accept, you know, that it has to be a gradual process.

You have an idea of how the country should be. And you say, ""Well, let's change them,'' because you've got the levers. They sell you more than you buy from them. They need your technologies, so ""you change''. I don't think they can change their ways. And if they did, they run very serious risks of internal unrest that may abort the whole process.

Let's put it this way. They do not know where they are heading. What kind of China it will be in 30 years, Jiang Zemin has no idea.

All he knows is that it's going to be a different China. That goes the same for all that generation. They're all ...

Q: But isn't he following the Singapore model, and trying to get more economic freedom without any more political freedom?

A: That's facile. If you just look at China and you look at Singapore, you can see the vast difference.

Q: Well, three million versus ...

A: No, no. It's not that. Three million, but three million with a thick middle class now compared to China. All educated, those below forty. Nearly all educated in the English language, completely conversant with what's going on in the world, and increasingly having a comfortable niche in the order of things. They travel. They see people. They do what they like. They're not regulated and they vote me out and I'm out. And they know that.

Q: Let me challenge you on that. I've written that you're a dictator.

A: [Laughs]

Q: I've often written that.

A: Yes. But if that makes me a dictator, well, you have won. So, am I a dictator? Do I need to be a dictator when I can win, hands down?

Q: That's a good question. Why don't you permit competition politically if you can win hands down?

A: I do permit competition.

Q: That's not what the competition says.

A: Let me make it simpler for you. Joseph Nye, head of the Kennedy School, recently came to Singapore as part of our international advisory board to get our universities to improve their standards. And I had known him for some time, met him before he was in government. At the time he was there, there was this little fuss about a dissident who said, ""I'm going to speak at Raffles Place,'' which is our business center, ""without a permit.'' He asked, why don't we let him speak? I said the law has been on the statute book for the last fifty years. If everybody just turns up at a busy junction at lunchtime and makes a speech and runs around, and everybody does it, there would be pandemonium. We are not that kind of a society. He says, ""Why don't you have a Hyde Park?'' I said, ""Yes, we'll think about that.'' We'll probably do it.

Q: How long ago was that?

A: About two weeks ago.

Q: Now, in that time, there was a Chee Soon Juan ...

A: Yes, that's right. That's the chap. And he said he's not going to pay the fine, and he's been properly charged. He's not going to pay the fine. He's going to go to jail to be a martyr. Fine. But he's no martyr.

Q: Wait ... Isn't there a law on your books saying that after you reach a certain level of fines, you can't stand for office?

A: I don't think he'll be fined beyond that. It would be wonderful.

Q: Well, the fine is a $5,000.00 limit, and the first fine is $3,000.00.

A: But how do you know the first fine will be $3,000.00? We don't know. And we are not going to press for it. Why should we?

Q: Well, why should you fine him anything, if you're not worried about him?

A: Because the laws are there, and he has complied with those laws for the last eight years, since 1992 he has been campaigning. And now, because he has lost, and lost badly in an open, free election, one to one against one of our candidates, he's had exposure on television, which was disastrous for him because he was caught out lying and fibbing and fabricating evidence on a health care paper which he presented. So he's been away for two years, in Australia, licking his wounds, so he wants to find a way to get a splash back, so he tries to ... so he gets a big splash in the Western press ... because they want to beat me up. (Laughs) It's all right; it doesn't bother me.

Q: But here you've just called this man a liar.

A: Yes. He is a liar.

Q: Now, can he sue you for libel?

A: Yes, he can.

Q: Would he win?

A: He would lose. I can prove it.

Q: But if you sue somebody for libel for calling you a liar, you'll win.

A: Because I don't lie.

Q: Ah. So ...

A: If they can prove that I am a liar, I'm done in. And when they sue some of our MPs and Ministers for having mis-spoken, they pay damages.

Q: You don't feel that you have abused, or misused, the law to intimidate people into not running against you?

A: (Laughs) No. No. I don't think so. They can run against me, but it's an effort to gather enough people to make that consistent try year after year, to build an organization.

Q: Now, here you are, an intelligent man, and regarded highly by a lot of intelligent, conservative Westerners, many of whom are friends of mine, and you're trying to leave me with the impression that there is an open, free, political competition ...-

A: Yeah.

Q: Backed up by a free press in Singapore. That is just totally at variance with the facts.

A: [Laughs] I do not agree with that. You called me a dictator. My answer to that is you are entitled to call me whatever you like, but that doesn't make me one, because I don't have to be a dictator. I can get a free vote and win. And there's a long history why that is so. Because I have produced results, and the people know that I mean what I say and I have produced results. You say there's no competition. We have enormous competition from the Communists. Maybe our fault ...-

Q: That's ancient history.

A: Not quite. Not quite. They were in the background all the time until 1990 when they signed the agreement and laid down their arms entirely. And they were always working through open front organizations. So we had fairly stringent laws to keep them out of it. Right.

Q: Uh-huh.

A: Now. We do not own the press, as they do in Malaysia. The press is owned by ... nobody is allowed to own more than 3 percent of the shares. The management of the press is in the hands of our four big banks.

Q: And that makes them terrified of crossing you.

A: No. That makes them having a vested interest in stability and growth, and they support parties that will bring about stability and growth.

Q: But what about truth and freedom? Isn't that just as important as stability ...

A: Our press does not lie. It does not. Nobody is shut off.

Q: Now, you've written that your news policy, quote, ""is not to exclude the contrary point of view, but to make sure the government's point of view is clearly stated.+

A: Yes. Correct.

Q: So if I say that you're a dictator, and that one-party government is inherently corrupt, you do not feel that is libelous? I can go ahead and say that and write that in Singapore?

A: Yes. Everybody knows that we haven't got one-party government and we are not corrupt.

Q: But you say I am free to say that.

A: Yes.

Q: Even though you say I can't prove it.

A: You are stating ...

Q: What I believe.

A: ... a general principle. Are you saying that the PAP government is a one-party government and corrupt? If you say that, you have got to prove it.

Q: Why do I have to prove it? Why can't I just say it.

A: No.

Q: Why ...

A: Just now ...

Q: ... proof on the person who believes something to be true. Let me take off my jacket; it is a bit warm here.

A: When you made your statement, you made a general statement, and I said you are free to make that general statement. But if you are specific, and say that this PAP government is a one-party government and it's corrupt, that's a very damaging statement, and I say, ""Please prove it.+

Q: Well, I've seen where a publication suggested that compliant judges were used corruptly to bankrupt your opponent. Right?

A: I took them to court and they paid damages for that.

Q: That was because of your corrupt judges.

A: Now, just a moment. The World Economic Forum and it's rival organization, IMD, listed us in their competitiveness report, had confidence in our judicial system; compared to all of the other countries, it's right on top.

Q: That's on economic ... -

A: No, no, no, no. You don't have judges who are honest and competent in economics and dishonest and corrupt in libel cases.

Q: Why not?

A: Because that's not the way we run our system. That's not the way we appoint judges. A judge has been appointed ... we have inherited the British system. Once appointed, he cannot be removed. His salaries are guaranteed under the constitution. All his perquisites cannot been diminished.

Q: So the result of these pristine, honest, uncorrupt judges is that all your political opposition is driven into exile, or bankrupted, or, in other words ...

A: Just a moment. How are they driven into exile? We do not want them in exile.

Q: Huge fines.

A: Come off it. Let's go through individuals, right?

Q: OK.

A: Chee Soon Juan is not in exile.

Q: As of today he's not.

A: No, he is not. Why should he be in exile? There is a man called Jeyaretnam who's been--

Q: Before you leave him, what's going to happen next week?

A: I don't know. He'll be produced in court. He'll make his defense.

Q: Right.

A: His defense is the law is unconstitutional, which I think is farfetched.

Q: Right. So then he'll be either jailed or fined. Right?

A: He won't be jailed. Nobody has been jailed yet on the first offense. He'll be fined. He'll refuse to pay his fine, as he said.

Q: Right.

A: He held a meeting with the foreign correspondents at lunch and said he's not going to pay, he's going to go to jail. Well, that's his choice.

Q: Right.

A: So.

Q: So when that happened in the U.S. 220 years ago, the newsmen were fined, they went to jail, and the people turned against the government of John Adams and elected Thomas Jefferson.

A: (Sighs) You know, we are not America. And the people in Singapore are not going to react that way. And the other leader of the opposition, he booted out from his party and took over. That's already on record. The opposition leader said he just is giving the opposition a bad name. And I think that's correct.

Q: So why don't you let him?

A: I'm letting him.

Q: If you provide them with the ...

A: No, no, no.

Q: ... to speak up against you, and people don't like what they're saying, what are you worried about?

A: There are certain rules of the game which he has got to observe, and he has observed them. Since 1992 he's played by those rules. He had all the publicity he wanted. It did him no good.

Now he comes back and says, ""It's because the law is stacked against me. I'm going to change this constitution.+

Q: Isn't that what happened in the Soviet Union? With Scharansky?

A: That's a very different proposition. He wants to change this law. He stands for Parliament, gets into Parliament, then moves a motion; he changes the law.

Q: And why ...

A: You are not going to change me in this one encounter. I am not going to change you.

Q: No, but I'm trying to understand your thought processes.

A: [Laughs] My thought processing has been patterned and reinforced over forty years of government, of dealing with all kinds of people, and of governing a society and making sense out of the society. And this is how we've got from nearly 0 to perhaps 70-plus percent.

Q: But you've shown that you're flexible. Let me give you an example. When you were asked yesterday and today about Asian values versus Western values, you said ""when we talk about Asian values, we're talking about Confucian values'', and you somewhat modified what had been a charge that ""Western civilization was decadent.'' You don't say that any more.

A: I've never said that Western civilization was decadent. What I said was in writing and in a conversation that I had with Fareed Zakaria of Foreign Affairs, and what I put down in that exchange was, ""I see signs of what I consider unacceptable patterns of conduct which I wouldn't like to have happen to us.+

Q: All right. Let me give you another example of your flexibility. Your son was here at Davos three years ago, and I asked him how he proposed to maintain a barrier against information flowing into Singapore if there was such a thing as the Internet and computers coming.

A: Yes.

Q: And he said, very firmly, ""We will maintain our ability to control the flow of information.'' Now, that turned out to be nonsense. You have acknowledged that in the interviews today.

A: Yes. Because technology has overwhelmed us. All right?

Q: Exactly. But you're not standing there saying it hasn't happened. You're recognizing it's happening. And so if it's happening with the flow of information through the Internet, why don't you let it happen with newspapers and magazines?

A: But that's a different proposition. The flow of information through the Internet - how many Internet users do we have? About 10 percent of the population? (AIDE: Fifteen.) Fifteen percent. They are the thinking part of the population, fairly well informed, well-exposed. There is this lumpen mass in any society, 30, 40 percent, who never got through junior high school. We don't want this barrage day after day ... the society has got to adjust and evolve step by step.

Q: Now, you're using Marxian language, with the "lumpen'' proletariat.

A: Well, I have been influenced by their vocabulary. They are not able to rise up to the levels of education which the majority has.

Q: But that's just a function of time, isn't it?

A: No, it is not. It's a function of nature.

Q: You mean there is a ... somewhere it's written that 30 percent of the people of a given population will be ...

A: Some population ...

Q: ... maintained in ignorance?

A: Some populations are more talented than others.

Q: I don't see what you mean by that. Because in a population in a place like Singapore, where you have an elite, you have a middle-class, and you have a lower class, or a people who are not in poverty, but are not well off.

Is that fair?

A: Yes. In broad classification, yes.

Q: All right. Now, you're saying that's the way it must be?

A: That's the way it is.

Q: Well, I'm asking, can it be ...

A: Well, we are trying to reduce what's at the bottom of the pile.

Q: Right.

A: And it's hard work.

Q: And knowledge is part of the way.

A: Yes.

Q: And the way to get knowledge is through the Internet, and through books and publications and periodicals.

A: Yes.

Q: Why, if you believe that, why are you restricting the circulation of publications?

A: Ah, let me make it simpler. For the coming generations ... just yesterday I had lunch with a group of Americans. One of them was Sun Microsystems, a scientific officer called Cage. And he's working hard in Singapore getting all our schools linked up to the Internet and wired up to each other, and teaching them how to access information. That it will include eventually whether it's 30 or more or less percent of the people who are not going to make the grade. But their parents are not capable of going through that process. It's too late. They are in their forties and fifties. We are trying to get them re-educated, but it is not easy.

Q: But if you're trying, what kind of way of trying is to restrict circulation of printed publications?

A: No, we don't restrict publications. We restrict publications only when they refuse to publish our right of reply.

Q: So ...

A: We've gone through ... we've refined this to quite an argument, and I had brushes against many of the U.S. publications: Time, Newsweek, Wall Street Journal. They used to write and refused to publish our corrections.

Q: You get more space in newspapers, thanks to me, from newspapers who are eager to give you a chance to reply, than from almost any other source.

A: So? But when we do give a sharp reply, it is not published.

Q: Gee, I doubt that. When you get colourful and sharp in your replies, it's well-covered. For example, when you gave an interview and said that Vice President Gore's remarks in Malaysia were ""unnecessarily rude,+ that got good play.

A: Where? In the U.S. press?

Q: You bet.

A: I haven't noticed that.

Q: Oh, by the way, when you saw him ... did you see him here?

A: Just passing each other, that's all, at the conference hall.

Q: So you didn't have a conversation?

A: No. I thought he was silly. He hurt Mahathir for no rhyme or reason. It wasn't the way to do it. You are going there as a guest. You don't have to go, because if the host is not deserving and you don't want to enjoy his hospitality, then don't go. But having gone there, and at a set dinner, to go there, stiffly shake hands, make a speech, then walk out and not eat their dinner shows a certain uncouthness in Asian eyes. There's a subtlety about how you insult people. There was no subtlety there.

Q: Now, here I am, in your suite, as your guest, interviewing you ...

A: No, but that's different.

Q: But I'm asking tough questions ...

A: No, no. This is ...

Q: And I'm not being unnecessarily polite ...

A: No, but this is not a public occasion, where you are invited as one of the guests, and you behave in a scandalous manner to show utter contempt and disregard for the host. I mean, you asked to see me, and I said yes.

And I expect you to ask awkward, spiky, difficult questions. That's in keeping with our respective positions.

Q: But when a statesman comes to a country and says what he thinks, or gives an unvarnished comment on human freedom, for example, you think that's wrong?

A: No, I'm not saying what he said was wrong. What I am saying was the style of doing it, the circumstances, was bad manners. If he had held a press conference after the thing was over, and made that speech, and made all those comments, directed to the world at large. But not at a formal dinner, as one of the principal guests, and walk out immediately after he had spoken and before others had spoken. Well, that's just rude.

Q: All right. You've made your point.

A: And he gave Mahathir points ... and even Mahathir's opponents ... political points.

Q: How can you, a man who fought communism and gained great credit for it, today be saying to the communists in China, the way to stay in power is to squeeze the dissidents?

A: [Laughs] I am not saying that. You are reducing it. You are caricaturing what I am saying.

Q: All right. Then you say it with whatever subtlety you want.

A: I am hoping that they will make this transition from a one-party totally dominant and controlled society into a more loose, open, normal kind of society, like Taiwan, like Hongkong ... maybe not so Westernised ... over the next 20, 30 years.

Q: But you didn't say...

A: But they're not going to get there if they don't take care.

Q: You didn't say ""like Singapore''.

A: No, because they can't be like us.

Q: But isn't the model that you are...

A: No, you ... you, the Western press ... say that they are going to use us as their model. We've never offered ourselves as a model, and they are not using us as a model. They pick bits and pieces of us: how do you run your airport? Why are you so efficient? Why is your airline so efficient? Let's go make a study. They study bits of us. But we have got the bits and pieces to come together. That's something they cannot do, and they know that. They're not stupid.

Q: Senior Minister. I'm not coming to this completely fresh. I used to be Richard Nixon's speechwriter.

A: Yes.

Q: I have heard the arguments from Chinese officials about their need to crack down on dissidents, and their blandishments of someday, we'll have economic growth, and then, after a period, that economic growth will lead to political freedom. But that's not what happened. Just the opposite has happened.

A: Well, I am not here to defend them. If you want to know my opinion, I've given you my opinion. They are what they are. I'm not going to change them, and I doubt if you can change them.

Q: No. And I'm not trying to change you. I'm trying to understand why you, who recognise your impact on China, and perhaps you minimise your impact on China, the example of Singapore on China, but the example is talked about, and when you don't permit a two-party system...

A: We have more than a two-party system. There are seven or eight parties that contested in the last elections.

Q: And of the 83 seats...

A: Yes, but they lost. They lost.

Q: And they lost because...

A: They lost because...

Q: ...they had every opportunity to...

A: ... because they cannot produce an alternative, an alternative that was more attractive to the electorate than us. Look, nobody in his right mind believes that we rigged elections. We don't rig elections. There's an honest, above-board election. Like we do many other things. Because otherwise, we wouldn't be what we are.

Q: But, for example, the candidates against your party have an opportunity to have equal time on television...

A: No, not equal time. Time in accordance with the number of candidates they field. There's a proportion, worked out from British days.

Q: You keep harking back to 50-year-old laws.

A: No, not laws. These are guidelines. I field 100 per cent of the seats. You field 10 per cent of the seats. Are you entitled to my TV time?

Q: All...

A: You are entitled to 10 per cent of it.

Q: So you think that an opposition party can't grow; it has to immediately compete on an equal level overnight.

A: There's nothing to stop it from fielding 100 per cent of the seats.

Q: Let me change the subject for a minute, all right, to selective transparency. You have something that many Westerners think is good. Your monetary authority now requires private bank to declare details on non-performing loans. But the Government, the Singapore Government, offers secret inducements for companies that invest in Singapore. So there's transparency that you require on banks and non-performing loans, but there's no transparency on what the Government does to seduce, or induce, people to come in and invest.

A: I don't see any such secret blandishments. Each investor is given a set of privileges, depending on the length of time it takes him to amortise his investments. Some are long gestation, some are short gestation. And I know of no secret inducement.

Q: Well, all right.

A: Because investors have a knack of comparing notes with each other, and if you give one a privilege and you don't offer the next one, he will soon get to know, and he'll squeeze you for the same.

Q: Not necessarily. I mean...

A: Well, I don't know. I don't know enough to be able to refute completely that we don't do it, but I am not aware that we have done it.

Q: How about independent labour unions. How do you feel about them?

A: Nothing to stop them from forming independent labour unions.

Q: Really?

A: Yeah. But they can't succeed. Because the unions who are with us produce more results.

Q: But I remember the unions in the Soviet Union. They were pet unions. They were in the pocket of the employers.

A: [Laughs] But if we were stupid enough to do that, we will be down the drain in no time at all. Our workers are not stupid.

Q: So you would welcome a free, independent...

A: The American view is you must always have a competitor. We think that's a sound proposition in principle, and there's no reason why we shouldn't have competition. But we make quite sure that we stay ahead of the competition.

Q: Here comes a prickly question. You mentioned corruption and nepotism earlier today. What about Singapore? Would your son be Deputy Prime Minister if he were not your son?

A: If he were not my son, he would be the Prime Minister. I'll tell you honestly, I stopped him, because he can run faster than any of the others. But I told him it would do him no good. Just stay out of this race. And his generation, his peers, know that I am not boasting when I tell you this.

Q: So you don't foresee a dynasty?

A: I am not that bereft of satisfaction with my life that I need to live vicariously through him. In fact, if he doesn't measure up, it is better that he does not show up, because he'll just besmirch the family reputation.

Q: About your book. You just wrote a book; I bought the book.

A: Where did you buy the book?

Q: In Washington, D.C. It wasn't easy, but I found it. Have there been any negative reviews of your book in Singapore?

A: A few. Not written by Singaporeans.

Q: But published in Singapore?

A: Oh, yes. By Malaysians. Condemning it day by day. It's dutifully published. It gives me publicity. [Laughs] Look. I can stand that. Not to worry.

Q: Philosophical question. Do people have an inherent right to rebel against despotism?

A: That's one of the Confucianist concepts. That's what the Chinese leaders fear most. Revolution in China is called qi yi. Qi is ""to arise'', yi is for ""righteousness''. So when an emperor is despotic, corrupt, evil, it is a righteous cause you should rebel. This is part of the Chinese folk culture.

Q: And this is what you see as the worrying...

A: Oh, yes. Absolutely...FOUR SENTENCES OFF THE RECORD.] Look. I,ll give you an illustration of how completely... why they know they can't do a Singapore. Joseph Nye was in Beijing before he came to Singapore, so they're talking about academic standards, and how to get admissions into universities, and so on.

So this lady in Beijing University asked him, ""How do you choose your best students?'' So Joseph Nye says you've got an SAT test with 800 as perfect score. But if we had a student with say, 600, 760, not perfect score, and another 800, but this student with 760 is also a violinist, we would take him.'' And the lady said to Joseph Nye, ""Oh, we can't do that. That would be chaos. As it is, even with marks, we have a problem.''

So this question of integrity in the system just runs through the whole fabric of the administration. I don't know what the communists have done in the 40-odd years that has made this so endemic, but it's a very big problem, and will stymie their progress. So how can they follow us? It's not possible.

Q: Who are your heroes? In history?

A: History? Churchill, DeGaulle. I think Deng Xiaoping. But for him, China is down like the Soviet Union. Is it wrong to list him? Does it tell you something?

Q: About your life? [Laughs]

A: No, but it tells you what I think of him.

Q: Exactly. That's why I asked.

A: Yes. Because I have dealt with communist leaders; he's the one communist leader with whom I spoke, and who stopped in his tracks and said, ""What do you want me to do?'' He came down in 1970, just before the Vietnamese attacked Cambodia, and he'd been to Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, and he came here. He gave a spiel on why we must all unite against the Russian bear, etc etc, Cuba, Russians in South-east Asia.

So I said to him, ""Contrary to what you believe, what my neighbours want to do is to unite against you. Because you're the troublemaker, not the Soviet Union. They don't pay for the arms and the propaganda that's coming out of China on their behalf. You are the mischief maker. You are appealing to overseas Chinese to support you, over their heads, to their citizens.'' And I expected a robust denial and for him to say ""rubbish''.

But he just asked: ""What do you want me to do?'' I took a deep breath, and I said: ""Stop it. Or you are all by yourself.'' And he stopped it. It took two years to do it. And the radio broadcasts stopped. And at his age, as a lifelong communist, to see that the communist system was going to bring ruin, and persuaded his Long March Communists to do a 180- degree U-turn, that's something. There would be no China today. It would be like the Soviet Union.

Q: Richard Nixon used to talk a little bit about someone like that, about Zhou Enlai.

A: But Zhou died.

Q: Now, you and I approach the world differently when it comes to individual rights versus what you call communitarianism.

A: Yes. Well, the rights of the society as a whole must, in my view ... to make Singapore work ... be placed above the rights of the individual, otherwise it will not work. If everybody is out after his own interests, regardless of everybody else, the society will just disintegrate.

Q: But it's never that stark. It's not individual rights must be supreme over the state, or the state must be supreme over the individual. It's similar, not in the middle, but somewhere in between the 80-yard line. And there are a great many of us who feel that what you do is completely subjugate individual rights to an elite view of what's right for everybody, what's best for everybody.

A: I would say, again, that's an exaggeration, a caricature of what we're trying to do. We had inherited ... look, I'm an empiricist. I'm not an ideologue. I don't believe in theories. I read about theories. I'm interested in them. But when I have a problem, I'll just solve it, and I don't care what theories solve the problem. I leave that to the Ph.D. student to figure out.

I had a conglomeration of people from all over South-east Asia and East Asia. It was never a society. They all came there because the British ran an emporium and so they wanted to make a living...And the British kept them in their pockets.

This kind of Chinese in this area, that kind of Chinese and that area; Indonesians from the Celebes in that place, and so on. It's convenient, because then nobody jells against them.

Suddenly, for some awkward reason, we became independent, which means that we could not survive unless we have a sense of community, that we owe each other some obligations as fellow citizens. And that is not easy, especially when you don't even talk one common language. We spoke different languages. It's a Tower of Babel.

Out of that non-situation, non-society, we tried to form certain common factors to make it jell. Had we gone one man, one vote, Chinese would have become the language. Then we would have died of starvation. Had we legislated and said, ""English was our national language,'' there would have been a rebellion.

So we said, ""Okay. You will study whatever language is your mother language, and you will study English because that's fair competition with everybody else, and that will be the language, the working language, of the government.''

So slowly, now, for the first time, if you speak in English, you might be understood by about 70 per cent of the population. It will never reach 100 per cent. Because even now, some of the young ones cannot pick up English because they're speaking their own mother tongue at home, and they're not bright enough to capture two. So it's always a fragmented society.

But, fragmented or not, we've got to make the place work. Now, in order to be able to defend ourselves, because we have slightly more than our neighbours, and that triggers off envy and many other thoughts; like the Israelis, we have a people's army where, at the drop of a hat, we can raise a quarter-of-a-million people.

But as the recruits form about 30, 40,000, to get them all together to fight for Singapore, we've got to give them an idea that this is important. Whether you're a wealthy man's son, or you're a hawker's son, you will do this. It's taken a good part of 30-plus years to get that concept into them.

Q: This is not the first time that you've used the Israeli example.

A: Yes.

Q: And there, individual rights...

A: No, but they have a whole history...

Q: ...are God given.

A: No, but they are homogeneous. They were persecuted. They are all Jews. They all read the Talmud.

Q: No. You've got religious Jews, you've got secular Jews...

A: Yes, that may be so, but they are Jews.

Q: It's a deeply fractionated society.

A: But when Israel goes to war, they leave whatever they are doing and come back to fight.

Q: Right.

A: I'm not sure they'd do that for Singapore.

Q: But you can't look at it as a sclerotic situation. You took what you took.

A: Yeah.

Q: You developed it into a society.

A: No, it's developing into, like a society. It's not a society yet.

Q: So what's it going towards? Is it going to be elite-run forever or will it ...

A: No, it cannot be. I don't quite follow the dichotomy in your argument. As you educate them to higher and higher levels, that elite will thicken. It ceases to be such a small elite. Must do. It's already happening.

In 1965 ... and I made this point in one of my speeches ... If we had the top 200 both in government and in business on the same 707 aircraft and it crashed, that's the end of Singapore. It could not have carried on.

Today, you could have them in two jumbos and crash, and it would still carry on. Because we have duplicated many of them. Therefore it would cease gradually to be a small elite.

Q: But is it on a slow incline, or do you see the opportunity now...

A: [Laughs] That's a matter for the younger generation to decide. I am taking a back seat view. A younger man is in charge. My successor is about 57. How old is he? (Aide: Fifty-seven)

Q: Come on, now. You're still in charge.

A: No, I'm not.

Q: If you say, ""No, let's not do that,'' they won't do it.

A: No, you're wrong. You are wrong. No, we run a system, right? I have seen what's happened to Indonesia, but I knew what's going to happen to Singapore if I did not prepare for succession. Because it was so easy just to carry on. I couldn't be removed. But if I had institutionalised it around me, it would have collapsed. So I institutionalised it around the office.

Q: Yes, but you have...

A: No, let's just hang on a bit. They are important. For me to leave Singapore and be here in Davos, I write to the Prime Minister and ask for leave of absence. It's not a formality. It is a statement of my constitutional position. He knows it. He's my secretary (gesturing to his Principal Private Secretary). He would put up the draft and remind me that I've got to take leave.

Q: So what's your point there, that...

A: My point is: I cannot order the government machine to work in the way I want, because I'm not the Prime Minister. I haven't taken the oath as Prime Minister. The President didn't appoint me. He appointed him. Then the Prime Minister appointed me as a minister in his Cabinet.

Now, I'm not going to pretend that I do not have influence. In the final analysis, if I totally disagree with a policy, and I think it's ruinous, I'll stand up in Parliament and attack it, and go public, and shake public opinion against the policy. Now, that they know.

Q: And so you think public opinion is what drives decisions in...

A: Absolutely. Yeah.

Q: So if public opinion is paramount, then what you,re suggesting is ... (BEGIN TAPE 1, SIDE B)

Q: ... The proper direction. [General conversation; length of interview]

Q: Is there any harsh question I have not asked that you were prepared for and would like to unload your answer on me?

A: Well, I think I don't have any answers to give. It's a simple point I make, and I made it to Joe Nye. I am not a model for anything. I just want to make Singapore work.

Whether it's good to be a model or not a model, that's for students of sociology and politics to decipher later. So I borrow in an eclectic way. I learn, and I never stop learning, because I think once you stop learning, you have got to die.

Q: We have a saying, when you're through changing, you're through. Well, I hope you'll keep changing, and more rapidly...

A: [Laughs] We are not doing too badly.

Q: I appreciate this opportunity, and I'm grateful to you for it. A: I haven't changed you, but that I didn't expect, and you haven't changed me, and I don't think you expected to.

Q: Well, I enjoyed it. I hope you did, too.

A: [Laughs] You are not a silly man, and I don't give you silly answers.

Q: I hope to see you again.


  到20世纪80年代中期,我每一次访问都能看到明显的进步。经济活动越来越多,私人企业越来越多,小商小贩越来越多,社会越来越繁华。人们的穿着打扮有了变化,女性越来越时尚。 我能感觉到整个社会的发展进步。 




































































  所以我才认为不能将中国和印度作比较。而且他们的社会制度也不一样,印度实行的是多党民主,中央为多党制,超过30个邦也是多党制,中央和地方邦有时会处于不同的政府之下,因而,他们的工作缺乏协同。我刚刚读完一本名为《Indian Diaspora》的书,我的估计是,如果他们愿意改变,而且是从根本上思想意识的改变、文化的改变和宪法的改变,那么他们可以取得中国60%的发展成绩。我举个例子,一年半以前,在马哈拉斯特拉邦,也就是孟买所在的邦,我被他们问道,孟买怎样才能变得像新加坡那样?于是我们花了两个半小时和他以及他的部长们和其他高级官员们讨论这个问题:它的机场达不到国际标准,连接机场和市区的公路也属于二流。坑洼、占地、人力车,城市没有经过适当的规划,只有高楼大厦和一些旧建筑。于是我问他们孟买归属哪里管,他们说属于马哈拉斯特拉邦。我告诉他们,如果你们想让孟买变成像上海那样的城市,那么就必须采用上海的模式,由中央直辖,你们投资其中,最终也就可以实现改变。但是他们说不行,如果由中央直辖,那么地方就会失去孟买的收入来源。所以他们将孟买的收入花在农民身上。因此,孟买也就无法变成另一个上海,也无法变成另一个新加坡。所以说这是一个宪法基本原理的问题。我曾向他们提议,为什么不改变一下?结果回答是,不,我们不能改变,那样我们就会失去收入。而我到中央和他们的领导人碰面,我说你为什么不试着求变呢?答案是,议会永远不会通过。




















Lee Kuan Yew's India rethink

Lee Kuan Yew's India rethink

By Kaushik Basu
Professor of economics, Cornell University

Lee Kuan Yew
Mr Lee caused a stir with his upbeat views on India

When it comes to crafting national economic policy, few political leaders in the world have had the perspicacity of Lee Kuan Yew.

Not only did he steer Singapore from the Third World to the First in three decades, he has written and commented on the economic problems of different nations with remarkable prescience.

Concerning India, during his term as prime minister of Singapore, he routinely expressed pessimism.

"It was sad to see the gradual rundown of the country," he once wrote.

Coming of age

It therefore caused a stir when, earlier this month on the occasion of the founding of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore, he predicted that India would be propelled into the "front ranks".

Aided by the sharp rise in foreign exchange reserves, Indian companies have, over the past three years, begun making global acquisitions

In this amazing speech, crammed with information and analysis, he argued that, over the next decades, "China and India will shake the world... In some industries, [these countries] have already leapfrogged the rest of Asia."

The question I want to investigate here is whether this optimism, which seems to be widely shared - from Martin Wolf in the Financial Times to Roger Cohen in the International Herald Tribune - is founded in facts.

The short answer is yes. While India has been doing well for more than a decade now, there have been changes over the past three years that are significant. I shall dwell on four of these changes.

First, Indian companies have come of age.

Wen Jiabao and Manmohan Singh
China and India will shake the world, says Mr Lee

This was noted by Mr Lee. When he spoke about what India had to offer China, he mentioned India's "near world-class companies", good corporate governance and capital market transparency.

This began with software companies like Infosys, Wipro and Tata Consultancy Services, which set new standards in corporate culture, and spread to other sectors.

And, aided by the sharp rise in foreign exchange reserves, Indian companies have, over the past three years, begun making global acquisitions.

In 2003 they bought up 35 companies abroad. Buying even one would have been unthinkable a few years earlier.


Second, there has been a windfall in India's outsourcing business, related to the US presidential race.

Call centre worker in India
US outsourcing to countries like India has been a huge boon

Readers will recall that losing Democrat candidate John Kerry had criticised US companies that outsourced back-office work to developing countries.

He later back-tracked on this, realising that this was not good economics for the US and also that it was not commendable ethics to propagate protectionism vis-a-vis poor nations.

But once this topic made its appearance, it refused to go away.

A host of writers and commentators on television, such as Lou Dobbs, went out of their way to vilify American companies that, for greed of profit, outsourced jobs.

A lot of small American companies that had the greed of profit but did not know of this great opportunity suddenly woke up to it.

Firms that may have had four or five secretaries decided to keep some of them and shipped the remaining jobs to English-speaking poor nations.

For the Third World this was an unexpected boon, since advertising on US television is so expensive.

A large number of countries have gained and India, which already had the organisational infrastructure for back-office work, did especially well.


Third, with China joining the World Trade Organisation, India having removed quantity controls on imports, and the advance of the IT industry, there has been an unprecedented rise in Indo-Chinese trade.

Suspected Kashmiri militants
Tackling militants has given the US and India common purpose

The trade between these two nations was $5bn in 2002, $7.6bn in 2003 and $13.6bn in 2004.

Moreover, what is interesting is that it is India that is running a trade surplus.

In general, there seems to be a boost in India's trade with the rest of Asia.

Finally, these strong economic developments come with a fortuitous political change, no matter what moral position one takes on this.

With the rise of global terrorism, US political interests have come into alignment with India's.

As Thomas Simons, ex-US ambassador to Pakistan, has noted, the Soviets left Afghanistan in February 1989 and insurgency in Kashmir rose from the summer of that year.

The fundamentalist forces that were engaging the Soviets began settling into a new job, providing a common problem for the US and India.

And combined with the fact that India and the US share similar political systems - democracy, free press and a constitutional commitment to secularism - this makes India a natural strategic partner for the US.

India should nurture these new economic and political advantages.

This will involve a pragmatic assessment of its self-interest but also, I like to believe, a commitment to certain values.

It will entail cooperation with China and the US, but also the strength to retain moral independence in global politics.

And there would be reason to take the new optimism seriously.

To read Kaushik Basu's future columns, bookmark bbcnews.com/southasia

Below is a selection of readers' views.

India remains a poor third world country. Here is the proof. Just a few kilometers from Lucknow, the seat of UP government, the largest State in the nation, tens of thousands in many villages do not have electricity at all. I challenge anyone to prove me wrong.
Sifwat Ali, USA

Urban India might be changing, thanks mainly to private entrepreneurship and the strong desire for wealth and profits. However the crying need for India now is not wealth but good administration. India lives in its villages. It is a pity that the government, the companies and the people in urban India totally ignore this side of the country. When proudly talking about how much progress has been made, they pretend that India's villages do not exist. The plight of millions of people in villages is one of despair and dejection. It is commendable that India is doing well, but it is rural India that needs to be looked into to see if achievements are truly laudable.
Tom Evans, Milton Keynes, UK

It is a huge disappointment to find Prof Basu jump into the bandwagon of hype when he should no better. Just which India is he talking about? For all the hype about companies flourishing and IT giants taking on the world, the fact remains that vast swathes of the country is in the middle ages, with millions and millions of poor who do not have access to basic literacy or health care. It is not clear at all that recent gains--admittedly remarkable--have even begun to bring any change in the life of India's dispossessed. The bitter fact is that there are two India's -- the India of optimism, development and possibility in IT and back office driven metropolises and a handful of states -- Tamil Nadu comes to mind -- which have made strides in manufacturing.
Ashfaque Swapan, Berkeley USA

I completely agree with Mr Basu regarding 'Moral Independence'. India is the most secular country in the entire world and we should try not lose our strength. Where else can you find a Muslim in a non-Muslim country to be the richest man (Mr Azim Premji) or a Muslim be the most respected person (Dr Abdul Kalam). Mr Jahangir Akbar of USA, I agree with you regarding Hindu extremism with regards to Babri mosque or Gujarat, But that does not mean that you can blame the entire country.
Kalyan, Edinburgh, UK

I find this article to be just rambling and out of depth. India is going the way where Latin America is right now, huge disparity between those who have and the have nots. Swelling in the ranks of the have nots. Marginalization of the have nots. India can call itself a success when its growth is organic, and when when atleast 50% of our people can boast of having a decent square meal a day.
Ajay, India

Every time I go back to South India where I originally come from, I see a significant change in the outlook of younger people, and gradual increase in their affordability. I do not understand Economics, but one thing that worries me is the slowness in distributing the wealth of the rich and middle class to the poorer people.
Ramachandran, USA

India is slowly losing touch with its intellectual, spiritual heritage and being turned into a super-fat consumer society. In addition we are an environmental disaster, and we make bad, kitschy cinema. I don't see this as a tremendous achievement.
Prashant, Toronto, Canada

India is definitely going strong but needs to make sure that the momentum is not derailed by short-sighted political ideas. Also India needs to widen the tax base and make every effort to ensure the benefits trickle down to the poorest of the society. Only then can India can claim its rightful place in the comity of advanced nations.
Uday Hiremath, USA

Well said! It is about time Indians started to be optimistic about their future and celebrate their successes rather than be pessimistic and have an inferiority complex as it has been for so long. Enough has been said about India's poverty in the media and India bashing by people who have other vested interest and comments on India and we all know which quarters they come from. True, there is a lot to be done, it's a matter of time. Corruption and poverty will decrease by an educated, progressive and united India. Work is already underway!

As a resident Indian, I can attest the changes occuring on the ground in India by many of our optimistic columnists. "Slow and Steady wins the race" is also true in economics...as of today no great civilisation has progessed explosively, it has matured in its own time. Hence, I am slightly worried about the runaway growth of China...explosion then implosion? Hope not!
Ketan Khare, India

Well, another brilliant work by Basu. If only the BBC learnt to focus more on these than the typical third world images it loves to portray India in...
Rohit, London

I am a Singaporean of Indian origin. While, I do not doubt the predictions of Lee Kuan Yew and other economists, I would like to know if the wealth that is India is gaining is going to be concentrated in the hands of a few. Has there been a change in the welfare of people? Or is it too early to tell?
Gayathri Gunasekaran, Singapore

The outworldly rosy picture is not enough to propell India in first world category, there are host of internal issues, which are required to be tackled in due time for India to achieve developed status in near future.
Indu, Us

Ever since the economic reforms started in 1990, India is moving in the right direction step by step. For India, this is just a beginning towards prosperity and her success will be directly proportional to the improvement in infrastructure, education and health care to her citizens.
Raj, India

India is on the move. It is no surprise that the rest of the world has started to take notice. With an economy growing consistently at over 6 percent every year, with over US$100 million in foreign exchange reserves,and a bourgeoning middle class, there is every reason to be optimistic about India's future. India has always been a potential superpower but poverty and corruption have hindered its progress. Manmohan Singh, in his brief stint as Prime Minister,has made significant gains with regards to India's external relations. If he displays the same determination in trying to tackle the country's internal problems such as corruption and communal divisions,India can realize its enormous potential.
Siddhartha Talya, Toronto, Canada

While I generally agree on optimisitic note of Mr Basu's analysis but would like to add caution of more economic reforms required to liberate the full potential of Indian economy. India must reform its labour laws and Small scale sector reservation policies to become more competitive and widen its economic base.
Shailendra Saxena, USA

Prof. Basu always manages to show us light and hope in its purest form. Thank you.
Babuli, India

Its interesting to see that leaders across the world are coming together to form a viewpoint that Asia is going to be the new economic superpower in the coming years. It is not surprising though because the percentage of skilled workers churned out every year is much higher in asian countries than western countries. The quality of work in these countries is no doubt achieving higher standards and giving more satisfaction to the outsourcers. All said and done, I think it will be interesting to see in the coming years if India and China can be threatened by other countries in this outsourcing race. That will also help smooth out some of the huge benefits that outsourcing has generated for these countries. In general a better economy for the world.
Neeraj, New York City

How can Kaushik Basu say that India and the USA have so much in common. India has opposed every US foreign policy initiatave for over 50 years. He says that India is devoted to secularism, but the truth is India promotes Hindu extremism. Indian politicians promote and engage in policies that violate the human rights of its own citizens. The Indians promote the slaughter of Christians and Muslims. We should not for get the Barbari Mosque or Gujarat. This idea that India is such a great place is utter nonsense. People should inform themselves rather than listen to opinions given by self serving commentators.
Jahangir Akbar, USA

I agree with Mr. Basu's positive article on India's economy. We shouldn't however forget that this excellent growth could be even better if the government can tackle rampant corruption which still exist in all quarters.
Vinod Uttamchandani, USA

It's really interesting to know that you are such a wishful thinker and Indian spokesman who is considering only booming economy alone. You are not talking about downtrodden and destitute Indian people living in various Indian states. Please always show us both sides of Indian progress and prosperity. Thanks
Ashfaq Ahmed, Canada

Well said Kaushik. The world is tilting towards free trade and India is in the driver's seat to leverage this potential. Our politicians need to inculcate this potential and improve the infrastructure, root out red tapism and empower the people so that we could be in the forefront of capitalism and freedom thus heralding democracy.
Rajesh Sundaram, India

"Moral Independence" are very lofty words. Morality depends on your paradigm and independence is worthwhile only if you can lead. The Non Aligned Movement both highly moral and independent created little value for India or the world. Cooperation with China and the US could to a large extent force India to give up a portion of its moral independence eg. India's position on Tibet and Iraq. India might be propelled to the front ranks in less than 10yrs but fronk ranks with the strength to retain moral independence is a dream very far away.
Nisha Nath, usa

I sort of liked the reasoning put forward by Mr. Basu in his optimistic assessment of India till I reached towards the end. His recommendation for India to maintain "moral independece" is scary. The Indian self-righteousness is world renowned and has set us back diplomatically just as our economic policies did us in till the 90's. I believe India needs independent but emapathetic foreign policy. India must first begin to understand and resepct compulsions of other nations before preaching moral superiority.
Neil Mehta, USA

A further goal for India would be to stabilize the subcontinent and make it a dynamo of growth that it was a long time back. The subcontinent contains upwards of 600 million muslims - by far the largest denomination of muslims anywhwere. Thier inclusion into a progressive and democratic framework would do more to stabilize the Islamic world than any amount of military intervention. Also India will have to work to ensure that countries in the emerging world do not emulate the neo-autocratic framework of china. For this India will have to become more liberal, more prosperous ,more democratic and less unsure about herself.
Rajiv, Japan

There is no doubt about the progress made in IT. But we as Indians have to reassess and redefine our work culture and tackle severe corruption in certain areas such government offices where we all know what's going on. This is not a small problem at all.Law is not sufficiently helping in this regard.All major government organisation have to revamped with common code of functioning all over India.Just progress made in IT will not make any country superpower.
Arjun, India

I do certainly agree that there has been a fundamental shift over the last decade in India. Unfortunately, this is limited to a few companies in a few sectors. It is irrational to think 35 foreign acquisitions is going to make any difference to the over 600 million rural Indians. The opportunities created over the last decade has been limited to a few elite Indians who have had the privilege to study in urban institutions in English. A hundred kilometers from any 'booming' city, nothing has changed. India will have to invest a lot more in education and basic infrastructure at the rural level to "propel itself into the front ranks"
Pranay Sonalkar, USA

Mr. Lee's observations on the future of India are correct. I am sure the credit should largely go to the Indian private sector. About 15-20 years ago, there was a little difference between the public and private sector of India. Both sectors were equally inefficient and non-productive. From that point Indian private sector has taken a quantum leap ahead. I am sure the top Indian firms - not only IT firms - now stand shoulder to shoulder with their US or European counterparts in every respect. As Time magazine has noted for fifty years India was waiting her self restricted wheel chair. This is the time to get up with a bang!
Chanuka Wattegama, Sri Lanka

With the youngest population in the world, and a second tryst with destiny, I have full faith in the inherent Entrepreneurship and deep desire to excel among Indians. The energy that was all bottled up for decades has been unleashed. Outsourcing and current Entrepreneurship trends are only a start of a wave for India and china to join the global economy as equal players. Like Manmohan singh (India's Prime minister) once quoted "No one can resist an idea whose time has come"
Shubham Nagar, UK

I read this with interest. It's good to hear about optimism about one's own country.We must be cautios and see we do not get into the cycle of self satisfion and not do anything about the looming problems like Electicity Shortage, Water Supply, corruption, and so on.
Ishita, India

It is a fact that India is moving ahead with a better pace than the previous decade. Initial days were similar for both China and India, but with a strong and fruitful administration, economic reforms and healthy infrastructure China has leaped ahead. This is the right time to do a comparative study between these two giants. Recently India has got a modern leadership which is similar to that of China in decision making, but still has to improve in implementation. About foreign investment, it is really interesting to see the leaders are acting like salesmen, and it will bring India very fruitful results in future. But the most crucial area is of infrastructure. Indian companies are already feeling suffocation and it is too late to work on infrastructure building. Briefly, building up of good infrastructure will build up another India with a strong foundation for heading towards the block of developed countries.
Jossi John, United Arab Emirates