India's "inefficient and unequal democracy" cannot provide answers to social evils and that is why angry citizens are taking to the streets, an influential Chinese newspaper has said.
"The Indian democratic system seemingly can't solve these problems but provides legitimacy for them," the Global Times said in a commentary after the death of a 23-year-old who had been gang-raped and tortured in Delhi.
"India's democracy is now manipulated by a small number of elite and interest groups. This easily ignites massive grass-roots protests like the current ones and the anti-corruption rallies in August."
The street protests in New Delhi offered a lesson to China, said the Global Times write-up by Lin Xu.
"Six decades ago, China and India maintained a similar development level, but there has been a widening gap after China explored reform and opening-up," it said.
"Analysts hold that India is about a decade behind China in economic development and three decades behind in social development," it said.
But the Times noted that as the world's biggest democratic country, India was seen in the West as having great potential due to its superior system.
"But an inefficient and unequal democracy is unlikely to be able to mobilize this potential. The Indian government is criticized for having reacted slowly and India's law enforcement system is considered sloppy. Rape cases in India have a conviction rate of as low as 26 percent even when they reach court. Moreover, the traditional social culture that devalues women should be condemned. Democracy should ensure effective public participation in national politics and supervision of the government. Efficient democracy means more than electoral politics," it said.
Global Times, which represents hardline thinking in China, went on to say that the abuse of women in India was shocking.
It quoted statistics to say that 572 rapes were recorded in New Delhi in 2011, and rape cases went up seven times in the past 40 years.
"Over the past few weeks, violence against women in India received prominent attention worldwide, most of which dwelt on the root causes of the problem."