The Elephant and the Dragon: The Rise of India and China, and What It Means for All of Us
Robyn Meredith
July 26, 2007
Santa Monica

Pick any statistic. They all tell the same story.

  • China imports more goods every day than it did for the entire year of 1978.
  • India graduates twice as many college students as the United States.
  • Three out of every four toys made in the world today are manufactured in China.

The story, of course, is the astronomical rise of China and India as global powerhouses and the impact this will have on nations and workers around the world — what journalist Robyn Meredith calls a "tectonic" shift in global economics.

Her warning: The developed world better get ready to accept and respond to major disruptions in workforces, geopolitics, economics and many other areas as a result of the rise of China and India.

"The new global job market is worrying the West — and it should," said Meredith, an editor for Forbes magazine based in Hong Kong and author of a new book about India and China, The Elephant and the Dragon. "Westerners can no longer expect to earn ten times everyone else for the same work."

She emphasized, however, that not all of these changes should be feared.

For example, millions of people in India and China have been lifted out of poverty in recent years, which also provides a new source of exports for the developed world. And the ability of U.S. companies to manufacture goods overseas means lower prices for American consumers. That helps our economy.

"India and China are both friends and foes," she said. "We must adapt because these changes are inevitable. And we wouldn't want to stop it even if we could."

America in particular, she said, must respond aggressively to the new competitive realities.

First, we must recognize that job losses are inevitable and create resources to help people deal with job loss, such as better retraining programs, she said. Second, we must improve our K-12 education system.

"Let the rise of India and China act as a catalyst for America's competitiveness," she said. "Let it be our new space race."