A recent study in Financial Times shows that relatives galore of Chinese politicians have become millionaires. The "princelings", as children of top Chinese politicians are called, have riches that dwarf comparable Indian princelings.
When Deng Xiaoping launched China's pro-business reforms, he declared "to get rich is glorious." He meant productive businesses should be gloriously rich. But his party colleagues have found the ultimate glory in family enrichment. In the 1990, when the Chinese private sector skyrocketed, some top politicians tried to rein in their princelings. "But now there is almost no restraint," says a top official.
Indian politicians during the independence movement aimed for ideals, not money. But once in office, their relatives became influence peddlers. Today, people enter politics mainly to make money. The emergence of political dynasties should surprise nobody: they are business dynasties by another name.
In India too, the sons and relatives of politicians often boast foreign degrees, and claim to have high technocratic skills. Here too, corporations want to hire these relatives to gain political access and influence. But we have fewer cases of princelings becoming big businessmen.
The mere fact that China has corrupt princelings does not make India less corrupt. It is no excuse for slackening our own anti-corruption efforts. Yet i suspect that most readers will, like me, grin at the expose of the princelings. The Germans call it schadenfreude-finding pleasure in the travails of others. It's mortifying to be beaten by China in one field after another, but we can enjoy China's victory over us in corrupt princelings.