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Expert Roundtable 7 Reading about China and India


This summer, BusinessWeek brought together 13 of the smartest people we could find for an online roundtable on the past, present, and future of China and India (see below for a list of participants). On each of eight days, we posted a new question. Economics Editor Peter Coy moderated the discussion. The experts communicated both with us and with each other on everything from geopolitics to generation gaps. Now we're sharing the discussion with you -- and invite you to offer your comments. Please note that not all 13 participated every day, and comments have been edited for style and clarity.

People all over the world are eager to know more about China and India. Please name one, two, or three books that you think would help people understand either or both countries. These could be political books, histories, journalistic accounts, biographies, or even literature.

Oded Shenkar

I am a great believer in the importance of understanding the historical background, so I would recommend The classic Confucian Analects, which capture the essence of Chinese culture and imperial traditions. I hope readers will also consider The Chinese Century (Wharton 2004), in which I summarize my views re the impact of a rising China on the global economy.

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Viveca Chan

I very much enjoyed Oded's book The Chinese Century. It summarizes very well what is happening in China today and paints quite an accurate picture of China, feels very much like the one I am exposed to everyone as I travel around and experienced personally. I am buying a few to give to my colleagues a friends. (Oded, can I get you to sign mine when we have an opportunity to meet?)

I also recommend Mr. China by Tim Clissold and China, Inc. by Ted Fishman. Both provides interesting perspective on doing business in China and its potential and difficulties.

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Subroto Bagchi

Books I recommend:

-Romila Thapar's Indian Tales (Children's book)

-VS Naipaul's India: A Million Mutinies

-Mark Tully's India: No Full Stops Here

-Guru Charan Das's India Unbound

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Saurav Adhikari

Unfortunately I am relatively poorly read on China, and that is something I shall correct beyond BW and magazine articles. Here is what I have read and would recommend:

1 A History of the Bengali Speaking People -- Nitish Sengupta (nonfiction) -- helps me reexamine my Bengali roots in modern India.

2 The Future of India -- Dr. Bimal Jalan (nonfiction) (the former RBI governor) -- a good read for those hungry for India's directions.

3 The Hungry Tide -- Amitav Ghosh (fiction) -- a genre of writing that has become increasingly popular with Indians writing with poise in English.

4 Vedic Mathematics -- cannot trace the author, but it reveals the power of mathematics over 4,000 years ago in India....used it to explain basic mathematics to my children.

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Arun Maira

Regarding books, may I add two very recent books on India. One is, The Future of India: Politics, Economics and Governance by Dr. Bimal Jalan, former governor of the Reserve Bank of India and member of Parliament. The other, I hesitate to say, is my own, Remaking India: One Country, One Destiny. Both books have obtained good reviews for explaining the intertwined dyanamics of political and economic change in India.

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Saurav Adhikari

Yes, I did forget Arun Maira's book Remaking India: One Country, One Destiny, which is also a good insight into India.

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Wang Yong

I would like to recommend the following books:

John King Fairbank, The United States and China

Jonathan Story, Race to the Market

Oded Shenkar, The Chinese Century

William Overholt, The Rise of China: How Economic Reform Is Creating a New Superpower

Peter Noland, China at the Crossroads

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Subir Gokarn

Of the books I have recently read on China, I found Lawrence Brahm's Zhu Rongji and the Making of Modern China most educative. It describes the former premier's career progression against a very revealing backdrop of the ascendance of the modern Chinese leadership. What I found most striking was the contrast with India's political and administrative leadership. I believe that this contrast is an important factor in influencing the relative performance of the two economies on many fronts.

On India, the books mentioned by other participants -- those by Bimal Jalan, Arun Maira, and Gurcharan Das -- are good leads into the current Indian scenario.

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Manoj Singh

Let us not forget, the classic The Art of War by Sun Tzu. The oldest military treatise in the world is still influencing today's Chinese politicians.

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Wenran Jiang

I will certainly go with many of the titles already recommended by other colleagues.

While Thomas Friedman's The World is Flat and Clyde Prestowitz's Three Billion New Capitalists certainly give credits to the competitiveness of India and China, thus highlighting the two countries' rise to global power status, it is also worth reading the following pessimistic accounts of China's future: Joe Studwell's The China Dream: The Quest for the Last Great Untapped Market on Earth (Grove Press, 2002, 2003), a critical look at the severe problems facing the Chinese economy; Elizabeth Economy's The River Runs Black: The Environmental Challenge to China's Future (Cornell University Press, 2004), a well researched account on the environmental cost of China's economic miracle.

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Rajni Bakshi

Looking Back to Think Ahead: Green India 2047 by Tata Energy Research Institute, New Delhi, and Banking on Biomass: A New Strategy for Sustainable Prosperity Based on Renewable Energy and Dispersed Industrialisation by K.R. Datye, Centre for Environment Education, Ahmedabad.

The Participants

Saurav Adhikari

Corporate vice-president for strategy, HCL Technologies

India

Subroto Bagchi

Chief operating officer, MindTree Consulting

U.S. and India

Rajni Bakshi

Activist and author

India

Madhav Bhatkuly

Managing partner, New Horizon Investments

India

Viveca Chan

Group chairman & CEO, Grey Global Group

Hong Kong

Subir Gokarn

Chief economist, Crisil Ltd. debt-rating agency

India

Wenran Jiang

Associate professor and associate chair

Department of Political Science, University of Alberta

Canada

Jiang Li

Research Manager, Media Communication Group, Microsoft Research Asia

China

Arun Maira

Chairman, Boston Consulting Group (India)

India

Oded Shenkar

Professor of management and human resources, Ohio State University Fisher College of Business

U.S.

Manoj Singh

CEO, Deloitte, Asia-Pacific Region

Hong Kong

Donald H. Straszheim

Chairman & CEO, Straszheim Global Advisors

U.S.

Wang Yong

Associate professor, School of International Studies

Director, Center for International Political Economy, Peking University

China


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