The Brookings Essay by William Antholis:
Bo Xilai and Narendra Modi are but two of the many prominent figures in the 60-some provinces, states, territories, and other major administrative units that make up China and India. For a sense of how many people are involved, take the United States and add Mexico, Brazil, plus the rest of North America and South America, then add the 500 million people living in the European Union. That adds up to roughly the 1.3 billion people who live in China alone. India is only slightly smaller, with 1.24 billion.
While Bo and Modi have governed districts the size of major nations, they are cut off from western centers of power. Bo and Modi gained international reputations, which makes them the exception, since most outsiders tend to follow only those politicians based in Beijing and New Delhi. Reporting from capitals and scattered consulates is important, but it gives us partial and often distorted glimpses of what is going on in the rest of China and India.
In early 2012, my wife Kristen and our daughters Annika and Kyri joined me in a five-month odyssey. We visited 20 states or provinces in the two Asian giants. We travelled by plane, train, automobile, boat, three-wheeled motorized rickshaw, and bicycle, as well as elephant and camel on occasion. We interviewed national and local political leaders (including Modi). We also met with corporate executives, journalists, academics, diplomats, religious leaders, teachers, farmers, slum dwellers, and—not just inevitably but usefully—waiters and taxi drivers.
The questions we asked fell into three categories: How do Chinese provinces and Indian states work? How do their leaders seek to balance local and national priorities and value systems? How do their citizens as well as their leaders view various global issues? More: