The world's two most populous countries each made international headlines in 2008, thanks to the Sichuan earthquake and Beijing Olympics, the Mumbai terror attacks, and reports of how the global financial crisis affected the Chinese and Indian economies. However, China and India were also seen in 2008 as making up, together, one of the ongoing development stories of the twenty-first century—and there are good reasons to think this trend will continue throughout 2009. Thanks to years of strikingly high growth rates for India and even higher ones for China, comparisons of the two countries have proliferated. This has resulted in a slew of books and articles, often aimed at investors, that worry over or enthuse about the way the “dragon” and the “elephant” have been upending or bringing new energy into the global economic order. Scholars immersed in the study of Asia often find these publications lacking in depth, but there is no question that economic shifts in the two countries and surging interest in their current trajectories are important. With this in mind, we decided this would be a useful time to revisit a familiar governance issue that has long been associated with joint discussions of China and India: the relationship between democracy and development. We invited economist Pranab Bardhan, author of a forthcoming book on the political economy of India and China titled Awakening Giants, Feet of Clay, to reflect on the subject, concentrating in particular on issues of governance—a topic he has explored in plenary and keynote addresses given everywhere from Montreal to Manchester, Beijing to Bogota, Canberra to Calcutta.

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