Thischart uses a stopwatch to compare India’s progress in development against another pace-setter, China. The chart shows the number of years that have elapsed since China passed the development milestones that India has now reached. India’s income per head, for example, was about $3,200 in 2009 (holding purchasing power constant across time and between countries). China reached that level of development nine years ago.
The lag in social progress is much longer. A child’s odds of surviving past their fifth birthday are as bad in India today as they were in China in the 1970s. Moreover, the chart does not necessarily imply that India in nine years’ time will be as rich as China is today. That is because China grew faster in the last nine years than India is likely to grow over the next nine. We stopped the clock at $3200 per head. But China did not stop racing ahead.