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India vs. Nigeria

During the 3 weeks in India I could not help but compare it to other developing countries I’d been to; my biggest source of comparison was with Nigeria. I’d always been drawn to India because of the many similarities with my own: the strong bright colors of traditional clothing, insanely spicy/savory foods, various religions/cultures/languages, a history of colonialization and more recently corruption.

But while there, I also noticed stark differences in the progress of both nations. I found myself asking: Why has India seemed to have progressed much more than Nigeria?

I don’t have a clear answer for that but here are some of the thoughts that crossed my mind:
Pre-colonialization: I believe the history of the region and how society was organized in kingdoms/empires must have caused long-standing frictions between ethnic groups. While India also has a myriad of ethnic groups, their transition to a single country was (and has been) less contentious than that of Nigeria. Old tensions die hard?

Colonialization: It’s been said that colonialization in Africa was a lot more brutal and destabilizing than in other parts of the world. I can’t quantify this but I would have to agree (Belgian Congo?) and that due to the manner in which Britain managed both empires, India was left in a better state to manage itself.

Black Curse: While both countries possess many different types of natural resources, the blatant and disabling dependence on oil has stymied its economic diversification and ultimately progress. India has not had to rely on a sole commodity. In fact, a focus in building and maintaining institutions of education built an army of the educated right as the service industries in developing markets were looking to outsource. Win-win.

I’ll have to come back to this and try to validate my initial thoughts.

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