A comparison of the development strategies of India and China and their rates of poverty reduction

India and China are both touted to be the next economic superpowers.  As both countries are home to close to a third of the world’s population, they have enormous human resources with which to capitalize on.  Alongside this natural advantage in terms of human resource, the domestic and foreign policies of both nations have been conducive to economic growth over the last few decades.  While China started the process of economic liberalization earlier than India, the latter has caught up with its Asian neighbour in quick time.  In this context, political analyst Fareed Zakaria’s assessment that we are entering a “post-American world” is a valid one.  In the six decades since the end of the Second World War, the United States had dominated global politics and had also attained the status of an economic and military superpower.  But with the onset of globalization, countries with abundance of cheap labour such as India and China are primed to assume the leadership position in another 10-15 years.  India has a huge pool of skilled workers who have the added advantage of proficiency in English language.  The re-election of Manmohan Singh as the Prime Minister is also a positive development from an economic perspective, for it was he who initiated India as a participant in globalization in 1991 (Winters & Yusuf, 2007).  China, on the other hand, started participating in the process of globalization much before India did. As a result, their economy is more than twice that of India and is catching up fast with that of the United States and Japan. Some of the South American countries such as Venezuela and Russia (rich in oil resources) and Brazil (rich in natural resources) also pose a threat to American domination of global economy.  In fact, American media believes that the threat will come from BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China).  The South East Asian region also poses a collective threat.  The rest of this essay will focus on the development strategies adopted by China and India and how successful they have been in reducing poverty.

Ever since the communist revolution of the late 1940s, and the subsequent formation of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 1949, many positive developments have taken place both within the party as well as for Chinese citizens.  The CCP and its cadres “are changing in ways that make creative solutions to political governance problems feasible than a repeated violent reaction to social change, as in 1989” (Smith, 2003).  While progress and reform is on the party agenda, its leadership still retains useful traditions and customs.  A case in point is the utilization of nomenklatura system for selecting party leaders.  Its critics will point to its shortcomings, including its inability to curb corruption within the party ranks.  But the nomenklatura system was not devised to deter corruption.  Also, the cadre responsibility system was meant to act as an analytical tool for zeroing in on the primary goals of the party and assessing the success of various policy initiatives; and it has proved equal to this stated objective (Winters & Yusuf, 2007). As a result,

“Since 1978, it is estimated that more than 200 million Chinese have escaped absolute poverty, as a result of Chinese government initiatives, bringing the share of China’s total population living in absolute poverty to less than 10 percent,(1) This significant reduction of absolute poverty, from large numbers of poor spread widely across the countryside to pockets of poverty in remote resource-deprived areas, required a change in the government’s agriculturally-focused approach to reducing poverty.” (Bramall, 2007)

The history of China over the last sixty years has not been without moments of indiscretion and impasse.  When in September of 1949, the communist revolution was complete and the CCP ascended to power, the people of China were relieved and also hopeful;  Relieved of closing a conflict-ridden chapter of their recent history and hopeful of a brighter future.  It can safely be said that their hopes were fulfilled to a large extent as a result of the imaginative economic policies adopted during the last three decades.  The CCP has to be credited for bringing about a degree of economic and political stability in the half century of their reign.  From its early days, when the party and its members were still learning the ropes of governance it has now become a sophisticated and well coordinated political machine.  The integration of the erstwhile closed and protectionist Chinese economy with that of the larger global economy in the last three decades is the pinnacle of the CPC rule (Mcmillan & Powles, 2009).

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