China displaced more than a million people to build three gorges dam. The government basically said, “Get up. Move. We’re destroying your villages and local culture because this is a national interest.”
In India a politician proposed to move a slum out from beside a freeway and try to develop the area a little bit. Outrage ensued and the people exercised their voice and vote. The slums remain. The freeway is still a joke.
China wanted to develop Shanghai at the cost of moving some current residents. Residents protested. Government: “Fuck you.” 10 years later Shanghai is one the most developed skylines in the world.
China’s authoritarian rule allows it to affect change quickly. One reason they’ve been growing so much.
In India, a democracy of a billion people slows decision making to a crawl. Meanwhile, the infrastructure here is still a joke.
In the long run India’s political system is more sustainable, I think, but in the short term — if you view people as numbers and GDP as God — it’s clear which system is working better.