CCL Case Study – Contrast in Governance – China v/s US

As I am going through the CCL material esp the blog about China there are several valid questions being asked about what the future holds for China and would widening economic gap in society necessitate political shift? Or would the desire to bring liberalization in financial sector to sustain current rate of growth demand transparency in government? There are also comparisons drawn to chinese system v/s the west , most notably US that China is trying to surpass. And I couldn’t help but think about the efficiency, democracy in US has helped bring about in areas such as energy and infrastructure spending where china seem to be happy to take the lead.

Last year, as I watched endless hours of debate and ugly campaigns on channels like Fox and MSNBC, one of the messages that political pundits were spreading that caught my imagination was the desire of the American people to have different parties control the legislative and the executive branch of the government. And so midterms have come and gone, but I am still thinking about this theory of Checks and Balances.

The republican and the democratic party represent 2 distinct ideologies in this country. The theory of having different parties in control the legislative and executive arm of the government originates from the argument that having one party in overall control would drag the country into a single ideological extreme. Diversifying philosophies on Capital Hill  is, in and of itself, a checks and balances process to prevent one majority overruling the other – and maintain the ideological center of the country. While this argument may be well formed, one needs to evaluate the price the country really pays to maintain this ideological center in terms of solving some of the pressing economic and social problems.

I believe that our representatives may come from different fiscal and social school of thoughts but their vision for the country is not overall very different. What actually prevents American people from seeing that vision realized for either of the parties is this division of power where compromise is what we-the American people get if any thing at all. Unfortunately compromise often is also the worst solution for a given problem. Five years ago my brother was weighing options to give a boost to his career; attending graduate school was one of the option. There was a liberal argument in his head that was asking him to forgo the wages for 2 years, invest in education and reap rewards through better career prospects 2 years later. The conservative argument in his head was to held on to the job he had and grow in it in 2 years while continue to earn. Halfheartedly he decided to attend the graduate school but then dropped out midway into the program – he did not get the degree that could he put on his resume and reap the rewards but he did end up owing $30K in student loans in the process. A loose example but this is what compromise in DC looks like these days – a watered down, half baked policy that doesn’t bring the benefits its supposed to but usually ends up costing the same to the taxpayers.

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Competing with China

How China redefines leadership…

As the clock struck 08:08:08 PM on 08/08/08, three words filled the air around 100,000 souls – “Citius, Altius, Fortius” – Latin for “Faster, Higher, Stronger” and motto of the modern Olympic games that has inspired hundreds of thousands of athletes in the past century. But what did it mean for China, a country that had never staged an international event of such a magnitude?

The Beijing 2008 Olympics were not just a symbol of China’s sporting prowess, but of becoming a powerful nation. So, is China perfect now? No doubt, it struggles with issues any other developing nation does, but by adopting the higher-faster-stronger principle, it manages to take the giant leap.

Time and again, we are faced with the question – “To do it the best?” or “To be the best?” The former reflects ability while the latter reflects attitude. The only way out is to set our eyes on “To be the best”. With the right attitude, ability can be fostered. But without attitude, ability is orphan.

In fact, I used this lesson in a feedback to one of my team member who was dissatisfied with his performance evaluation. His view was – “I’ve done better than I did last time”. In other words he did his best. But was he better than others? In these competitive times, one has to look outward for improvement – China’s “satellite vision” scans the world to see what is best. It then sets out to better it. Be it the Bird’s Nest or the Water Cube – world’s finest architects were hired to build these magnificent structures, a befitting example of China’s better-than-the-best mindset.

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