The U.S. can no longer count on the assumption of more or less automatic leadership in industry and technology ("China & India: What you need to know now," Cover Story, Aug. 22/29). Massachusetts Institute of Technology President Susan Hockfield has said: "We're falling behind, and it's time to think about what we want to be in 20 to 40 years."
One problem is that no one is in charge of doing that thinking. Now might be a good time for Congress and the White House to create a bipartisan commission to make comprehensive recommendations on what must be done to keep America competitive. After all, the direction our economic future will take is just as important as our plans for Homeland Security.
Editor's note: The writer is the author of Three Billion New Capitalists: The Great Shift of Wealth and Power to the East.
The statement in "The rise of Chindia" (Editor's Memo, Aug. 22/29) that India, China, and the U.S. will dominate the century misses a likely scenario of a global dominating trio of Russia, China, and India. "Ruchindia" would have all the ingredients -- land mass, population, heavy industrial base, technical manpower, IT domination, nuclear energy, etc. -- for a major combine in this century, possibly no more than a decade away.
I cannot accept your conclusion that the U.S. will be challenged by China and India any more than we were challenged by Germany and Japan after World War II rebuilding or by Russia after that. Repressive and socialistic societies will never surpass the U.S. as long as we don't move too far away from the system that has given us the greatest economy in the world.
Glen Ellyn, Ill.
That india's entrepreneurs and business people have responded magnificently to the removal of the multifarious controls that held them back for half a century is unquestioned. All they now need to do is influence the reform of government itself, so it operates to credible standards of transparency, quality, accountability, and contemporaneity.
The often cited city of Bangalore is a cynical example of politicians and bureaucrats focused primarily on milking the opportunities created by world-beating private-sector standards for their own self-enrichment. Meanwhile, the city itself is sinking in a morass of crumbling infrastructure and bumbling autocracy. Almost all civic systems are in gridlock, and the same corporations that built the city's reputation are now seeking ways of escaping it in their own development plans. That's a cop-out that ill serves this country's needs of the future.
I have been working with various Chinese companies for more than six years . I was particularly glad to read your discussion about the lack of management talent in China. I have found that Chinese workers are eager to learn and generally smart enough, but because of the education system, which encourages memorization vs. creativity, it is difficult for them to understand that they are in charge -- that they are expected to develop the plan for execution vs. following a repeatable concept. Given this dilemma, China seeks assistance with training of their upper and middle managers in Chinese-run companies.
Vela McClam Mitchell
Both China and India lack the managerial expertise for global collaborative enterprises. As China creates the demand for 75,000 executives with international experience, we must work on tooling our workforce to take a lion's share of these leadership positions. In the past two decades, U.S. educational institutions and corporations have made major strides in increasing international exposure to our workforce. We currently have the understanding, the global people and technology network, and the investment infrastructure to define, design, and build the engines for global collaboration. The economic value lies not within the factories, but within the business models of Amazon.com (AMZN) and Dell (DELL).
You suggest that schooling in math and science as well as foreign languages, especially Chinese, are two areas requiring the most attention ("What America must do to compete with China and India," Editorials, Aug. 22/29). I suggest that the real key to achieving this goal is to greatly expand the employment opportunities and salaries of engineers and scientists who speak foreign languages.
I know many young electrical engineers and computer scientists who graduated from good schools and speak reasonable Chinese but could not find jobs. Consequently, almost all my Asian American friends encourage their children to study either law or medicine (for an M.D., not biological research). Believe me, almost all of these young Asian Americans are very good in math and science.
In your lead story you encourage your readers, after visiting China, to "hop on a plane to India." I need to travel from Beijing to New Delhi next month. My only option for a nonstop flight: Ethiopian Airlines, I was surprised to find out, and that's only three times a week. (China Eastern offers a connection, but via Shanghai arriving into Delhi in the middle of the night.)
Duncan Clark, Managing Director
BDA (China) Ltd.
India has fewer than 5,000 officers in its elite Indian Administrative Service (IAS) cadres, who are well-educated and trained, to run the federal and state bureaucracy. But the bureaucratic process itself is highly manual, which makes it extremely difficult to administer and manage a country as vast and diverse as India. Result: Politicians take advantage of the situation, which encourages bribery and nepotism.
The Islamic countries that border or are nearby China and India could observe what their mostly failed attempts at economic development lack just by looking at the pictures in your numerous articles: women's rights. In China and India, rights of women are far more advanced and developed than in, for example, Saudi Arabia. Until primarily Islamic countries discontinue practices that exclude women from the most basic professions and government offices, they will continue to miss out on a segment of their populations that can contribute to the advancement of their economies and, more important, their societies.
There is no way that there will be enough energy and water to support the current growth trajectories of China and India. Before Shanghai achieves its 20/20 vision of futuristic planned communities, drought, disease, and desertification could wreak havoc in China and elsewhere, at levels heretofore unimagined. China and India are in the midst of an ultimately fatal endgame that is helping to squander remaining resources much faster than a conservation-oriented approach would entail.
Richmond Hill, Ont.