China VS India

India and China are now surpassing other long-standing powers like the United States with their booming economies and intricate cultures, while European and Western countries are now sinking into abyss with their debts. The two countries house many citizens, have economic and cultural similarities, and might spearhead global growth in the future. However, at this point, the two countries seem more of rivals then partners.

Rivals or Allies?

In the past, both races despised each other, with ugly perceptions of each other. However, in the modern world, since education has been largely emphasized in these developing countries, they have learnt to better embrace other races and tolerate each other. As a result, there have been changes to the way both races see each other. This makes me remember my history lessons – in the past, as a result of the misunderstandings between the races in Singapore, numerous riots broke out throughout the country, causing much unrest. The situation turned tables when Singapore developed into a harmonious, multi-racial country – now, neighbours of all races make good friends, helping each other in times of need. Soon, I believe that the racial barriers between the two countries will be broken down.

Even if the racial differences did not exist, the two countries still would not be friends. As a result of the two countries trying to develop their economies, China established a “string of pearls” in the Indian Ocean, while India is trying to do oil and gas exploration in the South China Sea, angering New Delhi and Beijing respectively. There might actually be a hint from this that the two countries are vaguely trying to provoke each other – both want to be the greatest power in the world, and are competing for the title. As a result of this mindset, the two hardly invest in each other, with Chinese investment in India being 0.05% of its total investment worldwide. This even extends all the way into the air travel industry – astonishingly, although the two countries are so huge, they hardly even have many direct flights connecting them.

Getting themselves in order

Before the ambition sets upon them to save the world’s economy, the countries have their own worrying problems that they have to solve first. China’s bubble is deflating, and exports are sliding, and inflation is devastating in both countries. The most obvious problem is probably the income gap – with the rich being ridiculously so, and the poor hardly even surviving. China is leading when it comes to bringing its citizens out of poverty, but the task of solving the problem is still daunting. While reading the article in the Times magazine, I spotted an interesting line – “While China doesn’t follow the rules, India has too many rules to follow.” Upon some thinking, I found this statement to be quite true. I just returned from Beijing, and realized that many laws in Singapore are not found much in China. The two most obvious ones I found were namely the ban on spitting, and the restrictions on smoking areas. Corruption is rife, and this has dented India’s reputation as well.

Perception vs. Reality

Western countries impressions of the two countries are through romantic and ideological prisms. Thus, India is gentle, with articulate and urban leaders, like those in New York. On the other hand, China is a scary country, represented by a fierce and fiery dragon which is threatening. This is because of Beijing’s profile and swagger. Beijing uses its power more often than India – they oppose anything and everything they dislike, from US actions to cracking down on political dissent and cyberspace activity. On the other hand, New Delhi was more accepting and tolerating of anticorruption protests. However, I feel that the main reason for this would be the differences in the political systems between the Western countries and Beijing. The Western countries ultimately believe that the best form of political ruling is democracy, while Beijing is an autocracy, so there may be some disgust at China’s method of ruling. However, not all democracies are countries with stable governments. There are many instances of human right abuse in India too, and though one man has one vote, it does not mean that he has equal voice. In the end, it is still the rich and the powerful that make all the difference.

Although China and India seem promisingly powerful, and the world will depend on their strength to pull through one day, they will have to be able to solve most of their current problems. With the corruption, will aid really reach other countries? With the poverty and violence, will the country be able to control itself? These questions need, and will be answered soon, and I believe that both countries really have to cooperate sooner or later.

Beijing Train Trip

The 16th of November marks the day during which I embarked on a train trip to the capital city of China, Beijing with my parents and grandparents. This trip would be of two “firsts”. One being my first 24-hour train ride in a cabin, and the other being my first trip to Beijing. The rest of my family had already been to the country before, and I was anxious to go there too. I had read much about the country on the newspapers before, and wanted to visit the tourist spots, most of which were remains of Chinese culture.

The train cabins were very small, with a one-person width, and about three metres long. The cabin did not have any door, and had two bunk beds of three levels each. Looking back, the cabins seemed quite badly furnished. The top and middle layers were not even tall enough to sit up straight! Luckily, the bottom layer allowed more head space. The train we took there was quite empty, with most cabins only having one or two people inside. As a result, our cabin ended up being the most cram.

During most of the trip, we played a four player card game to keep us busy. There was not much else to do on the train – there was no television, and the train rocked too much for me to read my book. What was worse was that we had not brought enough snacks to eat! The people from other cabins were all prepared, bringing along snacks like peanuts and instant noodles. As a result, we were forced to buy the food from the train. To my surprise, the food, although relatively cheap, was quite good!

The train ride was a good chance for us to rest well before our hectic schedules in Beijing. I really enjoyed the experience – the small place proved its coziness, and I managed to interact more with my grandparents and get to understand them better. At the end of the trip, my feelings about the trip were bittersweet - a mix of enjoyment yet a feeling that I did not want to take such a train ride in the near future. This reminded me that I still had to take the train back to Hong Kong, making me think of how I should prepare for it!

The Important Factors of a Good Education

In today’s world, more and more countries recognise the importance of educating the younger generation, especially Singapore, who has already risen in its academic ranking to above that of USA’s. In my opinion, I believe that it is important to work hard. Firstly, there a person needs to work hard in order to improve himself. Malcolm Gladwell found out in his calculations that even supposed natural need to work hard for at least 10,000 hours before he has a chance to achieve success. Secondly, it is important to have a conducive learning environment with people that are better than you. This gives a person the incentive to work harder to try to surpass the people around him. This forms health competition in which one is driven to excel. For example, when John sees that Tom’s results are better than his, then he will want to work harder in order to do better than Tom the next time. Thirdly, the students must feel motivated to work hard and do better. If John wants to become an expert in the area of science, and eventually become a respected and reputable scientist, then he would be motivated to work hard towards that goal. People without an aim in mind cannot achieve much. In the end, it boils down to what the parents teach their children about. If society’s parents are relaxed on their children, and do not expect them to work hard, and most of the children will just influence each other and the average academic grades in the country will drop. Parents trying to force children to work hard will discover that this technique only works on younger children. Nevertheless, it is also important to groom a child from young. If parents inculcate the right learning values and attitude, learning, instead of being a chore, can become an enjoyment. Also, teaching them good learning habits such as working ahead of time and not procrastinating, then they would be much more motivated to work hard.

An example of this is the US education system. Californian public schools used to be the finest in USA, were well-funded and well-run, with excellent teachers. However, they are now a disaster, ridden with so many problems that it has become irreparable. The US’ results have been sliding, falling behind many countries in Europe and Asia, like Singapore, to the 26th overall.

The result of a poor education system like the one in the US obviously has its toll upon society. In USA, the dropout rate it 25%, and 14% of high school dropouts unemployed. As such, we can also observe that academic results are directly linked to a person’s future. Thomas Edison once said that genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration – it is nevertheless important for a country with many talents to work hard to groom them. If the country continues like this, then the next generation will find that they are lagging behind other countries in Europe and Asia, and will find it harder to compete in the job market.

Population Explosion

The world population has recently risen to 7 billion- 6.5% of the number of humans ever born. Even though that is already a gigantic number of people that we have to care for, clothe and shelter, the good news is that we have the resources available to support this huge number of people in the world. Especially since almost 50% of the world’s population is made out of youngsters, those below 25, it means that education and healthcare is especially important in today’s world. The world definitely has the schools and hospitals to serve all these youths – they are abundant in the Western countries, and are now starting to pop up all over Asia too.

However, the main problem we have now is that these hospitals and schools are not always where the people are. For example, populations are booming in places like Africa and Somalia, but these places simply do not have the ability to support the growing population in their country. As a result, the surplus resources cannot reach the citizens of other countries. The current situation is as such – there are 1 in 8 people who are undernourished, 1 in 3 people lack a hygienic toilet, and 1 in 3 city dwellers lives in a slum. Essentially, we see that people who need help don’t get it. As a result of this, many people from poorer countries are now migrating over to the countries which provide more welfare and more protection. Consequently, the people in Singapore are complaining about the heavy influx of foreigners here.

The population explosion now may cause many problems, but there is always a silver lining to every cloud. Although the huge number of people may seem overwhelming at first, it is important that we are prepared for the future. Also, it is important to note that the young will soon enter the workforce, then boosting general economic growth.

Some interesting facts: 50.4% of the world population is male. This shows the obvious change from the past, especially in China, when the people no longer have a preference for male children. Women are now provided more power and rights- more job opportunities and such. Although the Internet now seems extremely widespread, with the growth of computer and android companies, there are actually 73% of people who do not use the Internet – this is probably because of the huge number of people in poorer states and nations like Africa.

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Hi guys, I'm a student in Singapore, and this are some thoughts and essays I have written over the years.