"In November, India took the next step in their space program by launching their Mangalyaan Mars orbiter. The orbiter won't arrive for a while yet, but they've managed to get some public attention for a different reason: the fact that the entire mission costs only 75 million dollars, substantially less than the budget for the hit movie 'Gravity.'
While the question of wages is bound to come up (it was only 15% of the budget of the project), I think we can all agree that bringing down the cost of interplanetary space travel to a level attainable by the ultra-rich is a good step forward."
Mir lasted 10 years, Skylab just over 6 years.
The ISS is not "permanent", it was only recently that they announced discussions and funding to keep it up and running past 2020 [space.com].
In any event, the longevity of the ISS that in no way negates the idea that competition between peers did and can do a lot in a much shorter period of time.