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Dr. Ganeshan Wignaraja, Chair of the Global Economy Programme at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKI), delivered a lecture on 23 May 2018 at the University of Southampton (Uos). His lecture, titled ‘The Recovering World Economy and the Roles of India and China,’ focused on the rise of India and China, including why and how they achieved their high rates of growth and what they need to do to become the economic giants they are projected to be in 2050.
The event drew a diverse group of students and senior academics. Dr. Wignaraja highlighted that China’s growth rates were aided by its (1) large domestic market, (2) proximity to Japan at a time when Japan was moving its manufacturing overseas, and (3) domestic economic reforms that opened up its markets.
China is already the largest economy in the world by purchasing power parity and India could become the second largest by 2050. Pointing out some of the advantages that China holds over India, Dr. Wignaraja noted that China opened its economy before India, giving it a first mover advantage. Currently, China has a higher income per capita, more STEM grads and better access to healthcare and technology than India. However, he noted that India holds hope that its youth would propel growth through entrepreneurship as it has a younger population compared to China’s ageing one.
Dr. Wignaraja also commented on the different political systems in India and China. While India’s democratic government is exposed to the pendulums of the ballot boxes, China’s autocratic government has had the political stability to push forward economic reforms and ambitious projects like the Belt and Road Initiatives.
Dr. Wignaraja concluded his presentation by highlighting maritime concerns in the Indian Ocean including susceptibility to piracy, smuggling and illegal fishing, the importance of rules-based trade to tackle these issues, and the effectiveness of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
During his visit, Dr. Wignaraja also met with members of the social sciences faculty to discuss international developments at UoS. A delegation of professors and staff of UoS had previously visited LKI in September 2017, to meet with Dr. Dinusha Panditaratne, Executive Director of LKI, and Dr. Wignaraja, as well as with Professor Mohan de Silva, Chairman of the UGC, and other senior academics.