But between 1958-62, instead of achieving the stated objective of putting China on the road to overtaking Great Britain in 15 years, the mindless mass mobilisation of hundreds of millions of peasants by the Chinese state under Chairman Mao Zedong claimed 45 million lives.
The most visible culprit was a great man-made famine that ravaged the entire country.
Yet, it was far, far more devilish than that, as Dr Frank Dikotter's seminal and must-read book Mao's Great Famine now reveals.
The book, based on pathbreaking research of official documents, shows how Chinese civil society crumbled utterly during this descent into a hell built on the foundations of coercion, terror and systematic violence. It uncovers that at least 2.5 million deaths were due to torture or summary executions.
In an interview to R Rajesh Kumar, Professor Dikotter sheds further light on the madness that reigned during China's most devastating catastrophe, which also saw the greatest destruction of property in human history.
One of the world's foremost China experts, he also explains why he feels Sino-Indian relations could stay troublesome, and shares his thoughts on the Nobel Peace prize being awarded to Liu Xiaobo.