The Billion People Effect: Lessons From China
There are only two “billion people” economies in the world – India & China. Together they make up more than a third of the world’s population. They are big governance systems which defy traditional analyses that may apply to smaller countries.
So we must consider that when dealing with extremely large numbers, percentages do not define the phenomenon that emerge. Even minorities matter as much as majorities, at least when it comes to introducing systemic change.
For instance, you can’t say that India has only 1.7% internet penetration in 2004 and therefore it’s not going to affect the immediate future of everything – including governance, law and economy. That small percentage amounts to 18,481,000 individuals and rose by 270% in 2000-2004. By 2005, there will be more internet users in India than the population of Australia.
We need to start hearing some signals from this noise and these signals are coming loud and clear from our neighbour and the world’s oldest continuous civilisation – China.
“After eight years of explosive growth, the number of Chinese internet users is rapidly approaching 80 million, surpassing the membership of the Chinese Communist Party.” – Xiao Qiang writes in “Meanwhile: The Great Leap Online That Is Stirring China” (International Herald Tribune).
I’m going to mention a phenomenon that has already started appearing in China, and will soon start showing up in parts of India. In fact, because India has a much larger ‘packing fraction’ ( people divided by land available), we will see these phenomenon in a far more intense manner.
Also, recently the cellphone usage in India (45 million) exceeded the landlines (44 million) and the internet is seemingly converging on the handheld devices, so effectively, the number at play by the year 2007 will be well over 100 million. That’s ten percent of the population, and a conservative estimate.
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