US can overcome India, China challenge: Expert

In a book, Adam Segal suggests US should now leverage its many advantages.

Last Updated: Jan 12, 2011, 13:44 PM IST

Washington: The emergence of India and China does not mean the end of American economic and technological power, says a new book suggesting the United States should now leverage its many advantages.

Author Adam Segal, Senior Fellow at Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a Washington think tank, analyses Asia`s technological rise in the context of India and China`s continued robust growth even as the United States struggles to emerge from recession.

In his book, `Advantage: How American Innovation Can Overcome the Asian Challenge`, Segal questions assumptions about the United States inevitable decline, and explains how America can preserve and improve its position in the global economy by optimising its strength of moving ideas from the lab to the marketplace.

Segal explains that Asia`s growth has been fuelled by its "hardware of innovation"- growing middle classes that will eventually outstrip the spending power of Americans, a cheaper labour force, more students studying to become engineers, and increased money pouring into research and development.

However, Segal maintains the region lacks a "software of innovation"- a cultural, social, and political framework that enables and sustains new idea generation.

India`s main problem, he writes, is a decrepit educational system. "A 2007 government study rated two-thirds of [India`s eighteen thousand colleges and universities] and found that 90 percent of the degree-granting colleges were poor or middling quality."

To buttress his argument, Segal also cites a survey conducted by China Daily that found sixty percent of graduates with doctorates admitted they had copied someone else`s work.

Through his research, Segal concludes the United States has an advantage over Asia in the realm of the software of innovation.

"In America, your ideas can make you rich. Intellectual property is protected, and individual scientists are able to exploit their breakthroughs for commercial gains," he writes.

"It is time to realise that software in its most expansive sense offers the most opportunities for the United States to ensure its competitive place in the world."

The challenge is "to recover a culture of innovation that was driven underground, overshadowed by sexy credit default swaps and easy spending."

IANS