Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Comics, topless women or math equations?

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.

7 comments:

Martin said...

Having spent my fair share in both (And lived in shanghai). There is 1 thing which i do believe will make a huge differerence, and it's very simple. Language, speaking over 5 languauges and having tried learning mandarin... i can just simply state it's not easy.

Shall be interesting to see where it's going though, i do see them both a 2 very seperate countries and both have their own way of doing things, but i have no doubt they will surpass america within the next 100 years as the superpowers of the world.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, math is pretty rigorous in India. Infact I found most of my Master's courses here (in the US)pretty lame.

Anonymous said...

Another example is the popularity of Sudoku...its quite interesting that in many families the fight is who gets to lay hands on Sudoku puzzle of the day published in the local news daily and who completes it first! ...TV remote power struggles sound so old century stuff..:-)

G said...

America has all the money but Americans have run out of 'good' ideas.

As regards the comics..., having studied business education in Calcutta, I would prefer the first two!!

Mowgli said...

well, the most popular news paper in India is very close to the tabloids you are speaking of ... !!!

regardless emphasis on education is high in india ...

and i think for poor countries' development cannot wait for infrastructure build up to be complete ...

Stiennon said...

If there is a race between a totalitarian regime and a democracy I would place ALL of my bets on the democracy.

Daniel Nerezov said...

ha! good one.

what did it for me was looking at the 2005 Google Zeitgeist.

They used to show results for China and it was fun to compare the top 10 US search terms with their Chinese equivalents.

Who would have guessed that whilst American kids search for "Christina Agulera", millions of Chinese students are searching for "how to write thesis".