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G. Venkataraman

By Sumita Dawra
Bloomsbury, New Delhi, 2015, pp. 300, Rs. 499.00

VOLUME XL NUMBER 9 September 2016

China: Behind the Miracle by Sumita Dawra, an officer of the Indian Administrative Service, is a narration of the various perspectives on China’s developmental experience during the years 2011– 15. The timeline covered coincides with the author’s stint as a diplomat during her posting in Beijing, China, as Head of the Economic Wing in the Indian Mission during the period July 2011–2014. Earlier she had authored a bestseller titled Poor but Spirited in Karimnagar: Field Notes of a Civil Servant (Harper Collins, India). The book under review covers various aspects of economic development in contemporary China related to the latest round of reforms, the dilemmas revolving around ‘new normal’ and the need to have adequate economic growth generating employment. For instance, the author, cites an address by the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang where he contended that every percentage of GDP growth in China generates 1.3 to 1.5 million jobs. The chapterziation of the book is interesting because the author has opted to ‘anchor’ each chapter in a city or a region that she had visited and built up her discussions and arguments in each of these chapters around a dominant economic debate pertaining to a certain region. Some of the noteworthy themes of these debates revolve around the pace of financial reforms, wisdom or lack of it as regards GDP oriented growth models, addressing regional inequalities, overcoming limitations due to availability of limited arable land, and financial management techniques, something which has been plaguing the provincial leadership for more than two decades now. Given China’s economic modernization and transformation in the last two decades and that more than a significant number of Indians are not only ignorant about developments in our most important neighbouring country, this book is an initiation and peep into contemporary China. The book consists of ten chapters and covers the three municipalities in China like Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing and some of the relatively old and new economic and commercial centres like Guangzhou, Dalian, Xian, and Chengdu. The chapter on Beijing talks about ‘a model of centralized political power, but decentralized economic power’ which is related to a major source of contention in policymaking in China since the inception of the ‘eating in separate kitchens policy’ in the post-Mao era. The chapter mostly talks about the problem of pollution in Beijing and the local economy. The second chapter deals with the financial capital of mainland China, Shanghai and its ...

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