A reader from India writes:
At some point, I wish they carried out some IQ studies based on caste/ethnicity in India (without which IQ data is almost meaningless). While I don't think India's low average IQ figures will change, there should be some very revealing differences. I would not be surprised if the difference in average IQs between the successful castes or communities and the less successful ones is greater than the White-Black IQ gap.
People who are trying to paint a rosy picture of India's future based on the fact that it is a democracy need to be a little more cautious. The first thing that concerns me about these predictions is that they do not take into account the gut wrenching increase in inequality between India's rich (or richest) and the poor. The former have become phenomenally richer since 1991, the latter are for the most part stuck exactly where they were 50 years ago - barely surviving. The political consequences of this cannot be ignored. The latter are far more numerous and have hundreds of millions of extra votes. The former can survive by greasing the wheels of India's extremely corrupt state and evading taxes but they cannot prevent a populist backlash that brings in lots of new socialism (as we speak, political pressure is mounting on the Indian Government to introduce "backward caste quotas" in the private sector to mirror what we have in the public sector).
In addition, urbanisation will melt away a large number of differences so that one of the things that made India relatively stable (too much heterogeneity so that you cannot get three or four groups competing - like Iraq for example) will also disappear. As the differences of language and region melt away, society will stratify more along economic classes. This stratification is already there but I believe it will intensify along Latin American lines (and the regional/linguistic/caste divisions will become relatively meaningless - although the rich economic classes will reflect the old caste hierarchy). And we know what is happening in Latin America right now as a result.
It is fashionable for pro-democracy advocates to talk of Chinese collapse. But China does not have anything like the internal contradictions India has to overcome. Their internal differences are miniscule by comparison. And that is scary because a China that becomes the military equivalent of Japan in the 1930s would be a formidable threat to global security. And they can pose that kind of threat precisely because they do not have so many internal differences. In India, the differences are quite incredible. There are politicians in India, for example, that are totally pro-Pakistan (these are politicians who pull in a large percentage of the Muslim vote). The American equivalent would be politicians who would be pro-Taliban or in the Cold War pro-USSR (i.e. completely in favour of an openly hostile enemy).
And this is one the reasons why the British had no trouble ruling over the country for 200 years because the differences were so easy to exploit. To remain in power all they had to do was play one group against another (and it worked like a charm).
Whatever happens, India won't catch up with China. But a military confrontation may not occur because India also has nuclear weapons and has missiles capable of hitting Beijing.
I don't have a strong opinion on the topic because I'm aware of how little I know about India, which has to be the most complicated place on Earth.