In today's New York Times, Nicholas Kristof's editorial outlines the race between China and India to become the world's leading power by the year 2100. He highlights India's demographic advantages (more working-age people) and financial system (China's banks are a mess). And he praises China's impressive infrastructure (India has third-rate roads and ports). In the end, he places his bet on China. His column-ending prediction is not particularly controversial, and besides, very few of us will be around to see if he made the right choice.
That said, his column will have a lasting effect on me because of the paragraph in which he points out a primary driver behind each country's emergence on the world stage -- an emphasis on education. Here is the paragraph that captures the essence (bold added by me) :
Most American newspapers lure readers with comics, and some British tabloids with photos of topless women, but a Calcutta daily newspaper is so shameless that it publishes a column on math equations. Imagine titillating readers with trigonometry!
Living in America where the average adult watches 1,600 hours of television per year, titillation with trigonometry really is hard to imagine.