CIDRS seeks to foster a fuller understanding of the link between China and India through dialogue and exchange of ideas. The conference is being organized by a unit of the Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations, an official student organization of Harvard.For fifteen years, HPAIR has been organizing successful conferences, routinely hosting renowned academics, businessmen, and statesmen, including top-level ministers and, in recent years, five heads of state. CIDRS will bring together 300 undergraduate and graduate students with a distinguished group of speakers from around the globe. We hope to provide an opportunity for discussion, debate, and reflection about topics relevant to Chinese and Indian economics, international relations, politics, and society.
Regularly updated schedule information, with confirmed speakers and session times, can now be found here: http://www.cidrs.org/files/schedule.pdf . Please see tentative session descriptions below. Some sessions do not yet have descriptions, as the CIDRS team will be working with accepted speakers to develop those. The schedule is subject to change without notice.
Neither China nor India is able to enforce intellectual property rights (IPR) despite their membership in the World Trade Organization, which requires that its members do so. While India has made remarkable progress in IPR since joining the organization in 1995, the high costs associated with patent protection, lack of awareness, and a state of legal flux have prevented India from fully embracing stringent IPR. Meanwhile, China, whose production of counterfeit goods stands second to none, has emerged as one of the worst offenders of IPR in the world. With its booming and ubiquitous black market industry , IPR offenses sustain the economy but plague legitimate companies, especially international ones. How can IPR laws be altered to crack down on these offenses? As IPR becomes increasingly effective in both countries, how will the collapse of counterfeiting industries and increasing confidence from international companies shape future economic growth?
The 1990s were marked by significant liberalization of foreign direct investment (FDI) policies by the Indian and Chinese governments. The results of these policies are reflected in the 2005 FDI Confidence Index survey, which ranks China and India as the top two destinations preferred by global investors. This seems to reflect the countries' shared belief that FDI is generally beneficial to development. Should these policies and incentives toward transnational corporations be sustained into the future? How are the investors and other developing countries affected by this trend?
Development Policies over the last 25 Years
Although both China and India are ranked far behind countries such as the United States and Japan in terms of per capita GDP, their astonishingly high growth rates in recent years have propelled their economies far beyond the ranks of other developing nations. What economic policies and conditions have facilitated this growth? In what respects has growth been uneven or insufficient? How must the policies of each nation be tailored to continue driving growth in the future?
Since China's entry into the WTO, foreign financial institutions have rushed into the Chinese market, basing their offices in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Canton, and other major cities. India, with the advantage of an open economy, has undergone several stages of reform and expansion for its financial institutions as well. By transferring capital and funds from investors to companies, these establishments are crucial to the development and integration of the Chinese and India markets into the global economy. If the optimistic upward trends of the two countries continue, what can the US and the rest of the world expect to gain from China and India's economies. What more can financial institutions do to facilitate this growth?
Though it is common knowledge that international trade benefits all countries involved, the more specific breakdown in the share of benefits as well as the parties that benefit within each country is less clear. As developing countries, both India and China have an import-export imbalance with other countries. Though the revaluation of the Chinese RMB was an important milestone in achieving a more equitable balance, China's domestic industries must find some way to keep pace. This session will address the determinants of India and China's trade with the world as well as the projected trend of their trade balances.
Sustainable Development (Panel)
The United Nations promotes "sustainable development" with a focus on fresh water, waste, biodiversity, atmosphere, industry, toxicity. The merger of economic and social development with environmental protection is particularly problematic for China and India as their societies and economies require exponentially more resources for growth. For example, China is gravely affected by desertification, especially in its northern and western regions. Drought and land degradation has been a key contributor to rural poverty as once arable provinces yield no crops year after year. India, on the other hand, with its high volume of trade and development in various technological sectors, must establish and abide by guidelines for research and development that allow these industries to grow in an environmentally safe manner.
Many more critical issues plague the two countries, some overlapping and others entirely different. On the whole, India has been more transparent and ready to tackle its problems thanks to its democratic government. However, in addition to being more proactive in diagnosing and addressing their problems, both nations need the financial and institutional backing of multilateral organizations and developed countries to achieve the goal of sustainable development.
The State of Villages
In the early 20th century, Mahatma Gandhi claimed that India lives in her villages. In the new millennium, more than 70 percent of India’s population still resides in 600,000 villages. In neighboring China, villagers are evicted for government development projects, and environmental and legal protections are weak. Both countries face an increasing development gap between their cities and rural villages. Various measures, such as rural education and medical funding, have done little to encourage or coerce the growth of villages. This session will take a critical look at the state of villages in China and India as well as propose possible development paths and policies where city and village may coexist.
The Spread and Influence of Chinese and Indian Culture
In recent years, the influence of Chinese and Indian culture has enjoyed increased prominence on the international stage, especially in Western culture. Traces of Indian music can readily be found in Western pop music, and the term “Bollywood” has become familiar throughout the world, ushering in a greater appreciation and awareness of Indian culture. In spite of the frenzied dash towards Chinese language studies in recent years, Chinese officials have remarked upon the “cultural deficits” that China suffers globally. How will the rise of new “cultural industries” and the upcoming 2008 Olympics expand the presence of Chinese culture abroad? How do cultural perceptions shape acceptance for immigrants? To what extent will emerging cultural forces reverse the flow of influence between the Eastern and Western hemispheres?
India has developed a world-class university system that some claim to be a democratizing force in a caste-based society. China's longtime emphasis on primary education has been cited as a major factor in its economic growth over the past decades. However, each system has its weaknesses. For example, China's business schools are not generating nearly enough qualified managers to replace the entrenched, less-efficient state enterprise managers. India's system, with several education boards, lacks uniformity. Both countries’ systems are based largely on rote memorization rather than cognitive development, and both still struggle with corruption. Furthermore, India's inability to establish the caste system is further represented by extensive and largely inefficient quota system in the nation's top universities. This session will explain how each country's system catered specifically to their respective societies' needs, why the systems must now be reformed, and how this can be accomplished.
In India, government hospitals are dangerously overcrowded, healthcare spending is less than one-tenth of one percent of the annual GDP, and basic medical attention in rural areas is virtually non-existent. In China, the availability of basic healthcare is only slightly better than in India, but the system in general is ill-equipped to handle major problems such as outbreaks of SARS and avian flu. To what extent is the privatization of health care useful, and how have non-profit volunteer agencies played a major role in the health care system?This session will summarize the state of health care in the world’s two most populous countries, analyze the effectiveness of current public health policy, and prescribe reforms that could improve the two countries' systems in the near future.
Women are undervalued, unrecognized, and underrepresented in many aspects of Chinese and Indian society. Due to various social, cultural, and economic factors, female fetuses are often aborted in the countryside, while middle class urban families resort to sex-selective abortion. The statistics for discrimination abound: 70 percent of illiterates in China are women while in India, only 38 percent of women are literate compared to 66 percent of men; women generally earn lower wages and face unchallenged domestic abuse and rape. In 2005, China finally recognized the need for gender equality with its state policy to protect women’s rights, at least on paper. However, both countries have a long way to go until traditional stereotypes are abandoned and discriminatory actions are punished. How must the states and the the people work together to eradicate this deep-rooted inequality?
Poverty Alleviation (Panel)
Some estimate that the proportion of India’s population living below the national poverty line was cut in half over the past two decades. Meanwhile, official statistics provided by the Chinese government show that the proportion living below the official poverty line fell to less than five percent in the late 1990s. And yet, according to the World Bank, more than 60 percent of the countries’ combined population earns less than two dollars per day. This plenary session will describe the current quality of life in each country, the policies that have contributed to it, what lessons the two countries can learn from each other, and what success -- or failure -- in alleviating poverty could mean for their societies in the long-term.
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
Growth of Civil Society
Nonprofit groups, clubs and associations that operate independently from the government can arise in response to social needs or political concerns that the government might not address otherwise. India's civil society has been growing for decades, with new political categories transcending traditional distinctions. China's civil society, meanwhile, has only recently begun to develop, with some calling it a "quiet revolution". How much have the two countries' civil societies evolved? Have they been able to overcome the typical growing pains of corruption, poor planning, and discontinuity? Are they contributing to stronger and more pluralistic societies?
Developing Legal Institutions (PANEL)
While both countries have made plentiful attempts towards the development of modern legal institutions, both Chinese and Indian societies still lack the full support of functioning, efficient, and fair legal systems, largely due to enforcement problems. Thus, the relatively rudimentary legal institutions in both nations have contributed to human rights offenses and governmental corruption. Some cases, on the other hand, have created opportune conditions for growth. How can further reform in legal institutions continue to support growth? What types of reform can best target existing problems, especially by bringing legal empowerment to groups such as women and the poor? Furthermore, how can judicial reform aid the implementation of existing legal protections?
Corruption in all branches of national and local governments and in business practices in the forms of embezzlement, kickbacks, and especially of bribery is a pervasive problem. Its effects are widely felt in China and India, even by ordinary citizens. Although both countries have taken nominal efforts to fight corruption, the level of dishonesty in both China and India has not decreased--in fact, it may even be on the rise in recent years. How is corruption, a characteristic problem of societies in economic transition, related to the explosive growth of today? Has growth been fueled by corruption, as has been frequently suggested by economists, and will this corruption be a continued contributor or a hampering obstacle to future and long-term development? How has corruption affected the social and political climate? In light of the dubious efficacy of recent and ongoing anti-corruption campaigns in both companies, what more can be done to curb the proliferation of nationwide corruption?
Protecting Human Rights
As the two most populous nations in the world, both China and India remain hot spots for continual human rights violations. While protective legislation is extant but ineffectual in India, equivalent legislation is largely absent in China, leaving ample room in both countries for offenses that have raised outcries from human rights watchdogs. Injustices against ethnic groups, women, the impoverished, and other minority groups have been rampant and, in some cases, sanctioned or even instituted by the government. How is the emerging influence of both countries on the world stage affected by human rights problems and their implications in the realms of health and politics? To what extent is the question of human rights significant to citizens of both nations, and to what extent has such abuses by the government been correlated to the phenomenal rates of growth in recent decades?
In spite of obvious similarities between the two emerging giants of Asia, India—the world’s largest democracy—and China—one of the last remaining communist states—stand at polar opposites in terms of governing systems. How has this fundamental difference influenced social structure and prospects for development in each country? Is an authoritarian system necessary to create social and economic conditions for the type of growth experienced by China in recent years, behind which India now lags? What are the long-term prospects implied by each government?
Multilateral Organization Involvement
China has been a permanent member of the UN Security Council since the beginning, making its way into the WTO only five years ago, and increasing its voting power in the IMF only recently by 35% to 3.72 share. Now China appears to be making full use of multilateral organizations to achieve its aims, with some claiming that it hopes to limit to U.S. power, marginalize Japan and Taiwan, and impose its foreign policy agenda. India, although repeatedly thwarted in its attempts to gain a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, has also been flexing its muscles in multilateral organizations. It had even been speculated that an Indian representative would serve as the next UN Secretary General. How sincere are China’s attempts to become a “responsible player” in the world? Will multilateral organizations play a prominent role in the development of the two countries, either through participation and compliance or exertion of power?
China and Japan
Diplomatic relations have never been simple between these two proud Asian countries. China, on one hand, has seen its global influence and economic prowess gradually taken over by Japan. The Japanese, on the other hand, have offered one apology after another for its war atrocities committed 70 years ago, to the point at which the people feel their pride damaged by the Chinese. Nationalism and historical legacy is only part of the problematic equation. In addition, the Chinese repeatedly express their anger over the Prime Minister’s visits to the Yasukuni war shrine, opposing claims to several disputed territories, and competition for scarce resources for their thriving economies. Amidst the rancor, trade and economic ties continue to grow between the two nations. Exchanges among government officials are attempting to overcome (or ignore) the other factors that obstruct further cooperation. However, the secure and friendly ties between China and Japan are important not only to their own national interests, but also to the security and development of the other Asian nations. What can be done to reconcile the lingering hostility and move the countries forward in a mutually beneficial relationship?
In the autumn of 2005, state-owned companies from China and India competed with each other over oil fields in Kazakhstan. In November 2005, Chinese and Indian oil made a joint bid for stake in a Syrian oil company. In January 2006, the two countries signed five memoranda on energy cooperation, and since then the two have made or discussed joint bids for oil in Colombia and Kazakhstan. What does this energy cooperation mean for China? for India? Will there be enough oil to satisfy both, or is the alliance only temporary? What does China’s recent cooperation with India’s rival mean for India? This session will address the amorphous energy relations of these two oil-hungry giants.
China, India, and the United States (Panel)
Some say this century is a "tri-polar" one, with most of the world’s power and influence concentrated in China, India, and the United States. Scholars have also heatedly debated the existence of a rising Asia in the face of declining U.S. dominance. Whatever view you hold, the present situation is such that both India and China are decades behind the United States in development and wealth, and that both must cooperate with the U.S. on many international issues. Their relationships with the United States, together and individually, are characterized by increasing exchanges on the trade and economic fronts, in cultural and educational areas, as well as on issues relating to legal reform, counter-terrorism and global security, human rights, and the environment, and much progress lies ahead. What are some of the key issues to be tackled or settled in the relations among these countries? How will the power balance among them play out in the next half-century? In what ways will China, India, and the United States together shape the rest of the world?