April 23rd, 2012
11:20 AM ET

Sharma: Deregulating Islam

Editor's Note: Throughout the week, Ruchir Sharma will be posting thought-provoking questions with answers and explanations on CNN.com/GPS.  Be sure to check out his excellent new book Breakout Nations: In Pursuit of the Next Economic Miracles.

By Ruchir Sharma - Special to CNN

Question: There are 15 members in the club of trillion-dollar economies. What are the next two countries that will join the club?

Answer: Turkey and Indonesia.

Significance: These are big Muslim democracies with increasingly market-oriented economies. The implications of their arrival among the global elite will be profound, both as inspiration to Muslim nations that are still struggling, and as an object lesson to Westerners who believe Muslim modernity is an oxymoron.

In both these nations growth has been unleashed by modern Muslim leaders who understand the essentials of market reform. In Turkey, the main achievement of prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been to contain inflation that had once hit 6200 percent, and debts that had forced Turkey to accept an IMF bailout, in the months before he took office in 2002.

In a nation that had been ruled since World War I by an aggressively secular minority, Erdogan freed pious Muslims like himself to play a normal role in the economy, and to compete for any job, generating  growth that has raised average incomes from $3500 to $10,500. He is deregulating Islam itself.

Indonesia is a similar story: after the fires that engulfed the last months of the Suharto dictatorship in 1999, and the series of incompetent leaders  who followed, President SBY (Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono) got control of inflation and debts, and unleashed the previously downtrodden and marginalized provinces to grow.

Unlike many other commodity economies, Indonesia has smartly invested the proceeds of a decade of high commodity  prices in new roads and other basics for future growth, rather than throwing wild parties, Russian-style. Under SBY Indonesia has become the rare developing commodity economy that works.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of Ruchir Sharma.

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Topics: Economy • Global • Ideas • Islam

soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. deep blue

    This article is lacking in detail.

    April 23, 2012 at 11:45 am | Reply
    • Patrick

      I agree with you.
      How is the deregulation of Islam part happening?

      April 23, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Reply
      • George Patton

        The Americans in Afghanistan are already to deregulate Islam by trying to prove to the Afghans that Capitalism is better than Islam.Patrick. If and when the Afghans start chanting "Allah Akbar, but Capitalism Akber-er" then the unholy American adventure in Afghanistan can be counted as a "success"!

        April 23, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
  2. Hahahahahaha

    Now the sheep and goats are really scared!!!!!!!! Hahahahahahaha

    April 23, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Reply
  3. Mubarak Isa

    Well, it is indeed a very good concept. I 100% support the deregulation. Keep moving Sharma.

    April 23, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Reply
  4. aamir

    i hope pakistan and bangladesh learn lessons from turkey and indonesia, walk away from fundamentalism and join the coveted list of emerging nations soon.

    April 23, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Reply
    • KA

      Wow wow wow! Bangladeshi fundamentalists? I know Bangladesh is a poor country but it's also asecular country. Not an Islamic state like Pakistan. If your ever visit b'desh you'll see that there are a lot of Hindus (at leasts the ones that the Pakistani army didn't kill in the Liberation War), over 10% of the population. And they are allowed to practice their religion freely. This a nothing but myth in certain muslin countries.

      April 23, 2012 at 8:44 pm | Reply
      • Trends

        Pakistani Army during liberation war? I have been reading CNN since 1997. And this is most ignorant comment.

        April 24, 2012 at 11:42 am |
  5. JAL

    In America, before 9-11, all Islam needed was an open mind. Now, after the US attacks by radicals, there is a resistance. The "Do this or we will kill you" device is definitively counter-productive. However, I pray using pillows for my knees, and bow facing east after every prayer (50+/day) and the fulfillment is self evident, so I am not going to try to convince anyone to try it.

    April 23, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Reply
  6. j. von hettlingen

    Compared to Turkey Indonesia is ethnically highly diverse, with more than 300 languages. The people range from rural hunter-gatherers to modern urbanites. The country faces secessionist movements in several provinces, where secessionists have been encouraged by East Timor's 1999 success in breaking away after a traumatic 25 years of occupation. Islamist militants have flexed their muscles now and then. Geographically Indonesia is prone to earthquakes and tsunamis. Yes, Indonesia is as vibrant as its volcanoes.

    April 23, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Reply
    • George Patton

      The Kurds in both Eastern Turkey and Northern Iraq need to secede from these countries and set up their own republic. Unfortunately, the West does not want this to occur!

      April 23, 2012 at 7:35 pm | Reply
      • The Americano

        the Kurds are reeping what they sowed a hundred years ago when they slaughtered millions of christian assyrians and armenians for thier own country .They supported the ottomans back then and now those same turks deny them.Thats why the west gives 2 F's about em

        April 29, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  7. Rabbi

    Islam needs to be destroyed completely.

    What stupid Americans seem not to understand, is that Jews are chosen people.

    We will reap the rewards of our faithful service to Yahweh.

    The goyim of this world should be happy to fight over the scraps that we Jews throw from table.

    Israel will reign supreme over earth, and anybody challenging that assertion will be conquered, with the help of US military.

    You people may not like us Jews, but you WILL learn to fear us.

    If a few of you must die to save a few of us....that's a bargain I can live with. Your own nations agree with me on this.

    Your sacrafices are necessary to ensure the survival of the only democracy in the middle east. Be happy.

    April 23, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Reply
    • Thor

      Y do you Jews have to robo post??

      I'm sure that with the billions we give you, you can afford multiple trolls...

      Israel must be pretty pathetic...

      April 23, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Reply
      • ✠ RZ ✠

        Thor, he's not a Rabbi and he's not a Jew. He's a robo-troll for anti-Semitic sentiment.

        April 23, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
  8. mmi16

    Muslim theocracies have their head firmly planted in 7th Century sand.

    Religions – all of them – are not spiritual or devine – they are methods to control populations.

    April 26, 2012 at 12:47 am | Reply
  9. Benedict

    It‘s all well and good for these countries,but it‘s the radical arm of islam that‘s willing to kill innocents that tend‘s to get the headlines!!

    April 26, 2012 at 11:33 am | Reply

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