India could be China if it was less democratic: Dr Mahathir

(Bernama) – India could have achieved as much as China in terms of development had it been less democratic, former Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said here Friday.

Dr Mahathir, who ruled Malaysia for 22 years, said though democracy was the best form of government, it was not the easiest way to govern, Press Trust of India (PTI) reported.

If India is not too democratic it will be like China in terms of development,” PTI quoted him as saying in an interactive session at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in New Delhi.

Minister of state for commerce and industry Jyotiraditya Scindia and BJD MP Jay Panda, however, disagreed with Mahathir’s contention arguing that India looked towards development as a marathon and not a sprint.

Panda said the Indian democratic system was evolving and there were plenty of countries in the world which do not have democracy and have not developed.

“As far as whether democracy is more of a hindrance to India, it is certainly more difficult. Our system is evolving, our trajectory of growth is certainly better than it was in earlier decades. We do need to tweak our system, but we do not need to change our system,” Panda said.

Dr Mahathir said though India has been a democracy for a long time but its socialist leaning had come in the path of growth.

Suggesting a model of a strong Centre and less powerful provinces for India, he said such an approach would help promote development.

“You need a much stronger central government and less powers to the provincial governments, because there will never be an agreement between the Centre and the provinces. This makes it difficult for the government to promote any policy,” Mahathir said.

The Hindustan Times Leadership Summit is an annual event hosted under the auspices of India’s HT group of newspapers. Prominent national and international personalities are invited to take part in the summit.