Awakening Giants, Feet of Clay
China's and India's emerging status as economic powerhouses dominates headlines and promises to alter the geopolitical landscape of the 21st century. Already the two countries account for one-fifth of the world economy and are projected to represent a full third of the world's income by 2025.
While undoubtedly impressive, the phenomenal growth of China and India has also become a story wrapped in myth, according to economist Pranab Bardhan. "One should not underestimate the structural weaknesses and the social and political uncertainties that cloud the horizon for these two countries," he says.
Constraints, uncertainties, and the conventional wisdom that ignores them form the theme of Professor Bardhan's September 30 lecture "Awakening Giants, Feet of Clay," kicking off this year's three-part BP Speaker Series, China, India, Iran: Myths and Realities Inside Asia's Emerging Powers.
Bardhan takes his lecture title from his latest book, Awakening Giants, Feet of Clay: Assessing the Economic Rise of China and India, published in April by Princeton University Press. Reviewing the book for Forbes.com, Jeff Wasserstrom praised Bardhan for writing "with remarkable clarity about complex issues, such as the widely varying ways that corruption can affect the economy, and the positive as well as negative legacy of the Maoist era for China in terms of its recent trajectory." Tarun Khanna of Harvard Business School called the book "erudite, informative, and accessible. ... You do not have to agree with him to be stimulated and rewarded."
Born in India, Professor Bardhan graduated from Presidency College, Kolkata, and Cambridge University, where he received his Ph.D. He has taught at Berkeley since 1977, following teaching stints at MIT and the Delhi School of Economics.
He is the author of 12 books and editor of 12 more. He has done theoretical and field studies research on rural institutions in poor countries, the political economy of development policies, and international trade. He served as Chief Editor of the Journal of Development Economics from 1985 to 2003 and in 2008 held the Distinguished Fulbright Siena Chair at the University of Siena. For 2010-11 he is the BP Centennial Professor at the London School of Economics.