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Development Concerns:China and India

In recent years, China and India have been the fastest growing economies in the world. The Human Development Report 2005 provides some interesting insights into the various dimensions in which development has taken place in the two countries.

Development Concerns:China and India

In recent years, China and India have been the fastest growingeconomies in the world. The Human Development Report 2005provides some interesting insights into the various dimensionsin which development has taken place in the two countries.


ccording to the Human Development Report 2005 (HDR 2005), GDP per capita in China in 2003 was $ 5,003 at purchasing power parity compared to $ 2,892 for India. The HDR 2005 tables of the Human Development Index (HDI) of 177 countries rank China at 85 compared to 127 for India. A comparison of the HDI and GDP ranks brings out the differences in development strategies followed. China has a positive difference of 11 signifying that it gives higher priority to provision of basic social services as health and education compared to growth of income. This is in sharp contrast to India where the difference is – nine indicating a much lower importance of investment in health and education of people compared to income growth. The trend in HDI (Table1) from 1975 is upwards for both countries, but the rate of growth is faster for China especially after 1990. In terms of HDI, India’s position in 2003 is the same as that of China in 1987

– a 16-year lag!

If we look at the components of HDI (Table 2), we find that India lags behind in all three dimensions of human development. The greatest difference being in the adult literacy rate, which is 90.9 per cent for China compared to 61 per cent for India. This is because of the emphasis on

Economic and Political Weekly August 19, 2006

European Commission

Bodh Shiksha Samiti, an NGO based in Jaipur, has an expanding portfolio of activities in education improvement. Working for nearly two decades, Bodh, has evolved dynamic community based pre-school and elementary education approaches that cater to young children from poor and disadvantaged communities. The organisation has developed innovative curricula for pre-primary, primary and upper primary levels and has found wide acceptance in the government and with NGOs resulting in an expansion of its work to additional geographical areas. Bodh is currently establishing an Academy for School Education with highly qualified faculty to undertake training and research related to improving the quality of education.

A comprehensive search process is underway for its Teacher Fellowship Program – a fulltime 18 month teacher enrichment course, conducted at Jaipur, which offers Fellowships to: Graduates of B.Ed, B.El.Ed, M.Ed or M.Sc in Child Development from reputed Institutions and have passed out between 2004-2006. Teachers/coordinators/professionals from NGOs/Educational private institutions working in the area of Pre, Primary or Elementary education with a minimum work

experience of two years and a Bachelor’s degree from a recognized University. The Program aims to develop a vibrant and reflective group of teachers and academic supporters in the realm of early and elementary school education with help of eminent education experts from all over the country such as:

  • Prof. A.K. Jalaluddin, International Expert in Education.
  • Prof. Shyam Menon, Head of Department of Education, Central Institute of Education, University of Delhi.
  • Prof. R. Govinda, Senior Fellow and Head, School and Non Formal Education Unit, NIEPA, New Delhi.
  • Dayaram, Senior Programme Officer (Education), Aga Khan Foundation.
  • Dr. Biswambhar Pahi, Rtd. HoD, Philosophy, University of Rajasthan.
  • Dr. Rajeev Gupta, Reader, Deptt. of Sociology, University of Rajasthan.
  • Dr. S.S. Pandey, Rtd. HoD, Sangeet Sansthan, Jaipur.
  • Dr. Bhavani Shankar, Dean HoD Faculty of Fine Arts, Banasthali Vidyapeeth.
  • • Dr. Sansanwal, Director, Institute of Education, Ahilyabai University, Indore. The Teacher Fellows would have a rationale understanding of the quality framework and would be equipped with their own world-view. Such a comprehensive world-view would not only enable them to explore the inter-relationship between human intellectual enterprise and practice but also help them in implementing and critically analyzing their own intervention in the light of the theoretical framework.

    The stipend will be Rs 8000/- per month during the programme duration. Lodging and boarding would be provided by Bodh Shiksha Samiti

    Total numbers of seats are 20.

    All applications should reach Secretary, Bodh Shiksha Samiti, AA-1, Anita Colony, Bajaj Nagar, Jaipur-302015, latest by 31st August, 2006. For any further enquiries, contact 0141- 2705120, 09314483424, 09413205685,,

    Course commences on October 4th, 2006


    Economic and Political Weekly August 19 2006

    education in the pre-reform period. Also, the education reform and development programme was adopted in 1993, which laid the target of eliminating youth illiteracy and a compulsory nine-year education to all students by 2000. China is close to achieving the target.

    If we look at other health indicators (Table 3) like the infant mortality rate, the maternal mortality rate, the probability at birth of not surviving till age 40, China seems to have an edge over India. The difference is the least for the infant mortality rate where China’s progress is slow and it may not meet its target under the millennium development goals

    Table 1:Trends in HDI

    Year 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2003

    China 0.525 0.558 0.594 0.627 0.683 0.755 India 0.412 0.438 0.476 0.513 0.546 0.602 Difference 0.113 0.120 0.118 0.114 0.137 0.153

    Source: HDR 2005.

    Table 2: Components of HDI

    Countries Life Adult Combined GDP Expectancy Literacy Gross Per

    at Birth Rate Enrolment Capita
    (Years) (Per Ratio ( P P P
    Cent) (Per Cent) US $)

    India 63.3 61 60 2892 China 71.6 90.9 69 5003

    Source: HDR 2005.

    (MDG).The difference is greatest for the maternal mortality rates, the rate for India being 10 times that of China. China’s better health indicators may be due to the fact that the availability of doctors per 1,00,000 population and per capita expenditure on health in China are both about three times higher than that in India.

    Looking at the nutritional status of children (Table 4), we find that India has five times more children below five years who are underweight and infants with low birth weight compared to China. This is because of the higher incidence of poverty in India. The percentage of population earning less than a dollar a day is much lower for China,

    16.6 compared to 34.7 for India.

    In China the proportion of the population having access to improved sanitation is higher compared to India, but is less than the average for all developing countries (48 per cent). Surprisingly the proportion of population with an improved water source is higher for India (86 per cent) compared to China (77 per cent) and is also higher than the average for all developing countries (79 per cent). The problem is more severe in rural areas where the ratio for China is 66 per cent compared to 79 per cent for India. Provision of safe drinking water is essential for good health and increases productivity of labour. Also, increased access to safe drinking water

    Table 3: Health Indicators

    Infant Maternal Probability Physicians/ Per Capita Public Private

    Mortality Mortality at Birth of 1,00,000 Expenditure Health Health Rate/ Rate/ Not Surviving Persons on Health Expenditure, Expenditure, 1,000 1,00,000 Till Age 40 (1990-2004) PPP US$ Per Cent Per Cent

    Llive Births Llive Births (2002) of GDP of GDP (2003) (2000) (2002) (2002)

    China 30 56 6.9 164 261 2.0 3.8 India 63 540 16.6 51 96 1.3 4.8

    Source: HDR 2005.

    Table 4: Water, Sanitation and Nutritional Status

    Population Population with Children Children Infants with with Sustainable Sustainable under Weight under Height Low Birth

    Access to Improved Access to for Age for Age Weight Sanitation Improved Water (Per Cent under (Per Cent (Per Cent)(Per Cent) Source (Per Cent) Age 5) Under Age 5) 1998-2003 2002 2002 1995-2003 1995-2003

    China 44 77 1014 6 India 30 86 47 46 30

    Source: HDR 2005.

    Table 5: Components of GDI

    Country HDI GDI Life Life Adult Adult Comb Comb Est Est Value Value Expect-Expect-Literacy Literacy Gross Gross Earned Earned

    ancy ancy Rate, Rate Enrol Enrol Income Income, Female Male Female Male Female Male Female Male (Years) (Years) (Per (Per (Per (Per (US $ (US$

    Cent) Cent) Cent) Cent) (PPP) (PPP)

    China 0.755 0.754 73.5 69.9 86.5 95.1 68 70 3961 5976 India 0.602 0.586 65 61.8 47.8 73.4 56 64 1569 4130

    Source: HDR 2005.

    translates into increased time for productive activities, since water collection is timeconsuming for women and children, especially in mountainous regions. According to a survey by the State Environment Protection Administration, fewer than 40 per cent of sections of China’s seven major rivers monitored in 2003 reach the standards for drinking water, while merely a quarter of the checked 28 lakes and reservoirs were up to the mark. The groundwater supplies were checked in 44 cities and 95 per cent were found to be polluted. The health of about two million people was reportedly affected by diseases related to drinking water with high arsenic content. The government of China is giving high priority to providing safe drinking water to the population. It has invested heavily in construction of water supply projects.


    The gender related development index (GDI) discounts HDI for inequalities between men and women in the three dimensions used in calculating HDI. The percentage deviation of GDI from HDI indicates the degree of gender bias in the three dimensions of HDI. On this basis China shows lower gender disparity compared to India. Looking at the components of GDI (Table 5), we find much large gender disparities in the adult literacy rate and estimated earned income in India compared to China. The estimated earned income is lower for India partly because of the lower female economic activity rate, which is 42.4 per cent for India compared to 72.5 per cent for China. This can be explained by the “worker woman” concept of equality which was prevalent in China. However, there are many other areas where gender disparity is evident in both countries, e g, domestic violence, female foeticide, wage discrimination, etc.


    China’s per capita consumption of electricity is two and half times that of India’s and it is less efficient in energy use in terms of output produced (Table 6). The per capita CO2 emissions for China are more than double than that for India. China is also the second largest emitter of CO2 after US, with a share of 12.1 per cent in world CO2 emissions. Besides air and water pollution, rapid industrialisation and urbanisation has led to large-scale deforestation and

    Economic and Political Weekly August 19, 2006 growth of landless farmers. Unless corrective measures are taken up in real seriousness by the authorities, China’s growth rate may not be sustainable in future.


    These average indicators however hide large inter-personal and inter-regional variations. China is plagued by imbalances in development – most notably between urban-rural areas, between coastal-interior regions, between sexes and between different population groups. The Gini coefficient, which measures the degree of interpersonal income inequality, is much higher for China, 44.7 compared to 32.5 for India. Also, for China the ratio of consumption of the highest 20 per cent to the lowest 20 per cent was 10.7 in 2001, while the ratio was 4.9 for India in 1999, indicating higher inter-personal inequalities in consumption in China. Kuznet’s inverted U-curve indicates that, historically, as a country develops income inequalities first increase and then decrease. China is still on the upswing.

    Growing inter-regional inequalities is another area of concern in China. According to the Asian Development Bank, the GDP per capita in 2001 in the western region was two-thirds the national average and one-third the average for the eastern region. Inter-regional inequalities in India are much less compared to China. According to the Economic Survey 2005-06, the highest GDP per capita (at current prices) in 2002-03 was of Chandigarh, which was nine times that of Bihar, the poorest state. In China, Shanghai’s GDP per capita was 13 times that of the poorest province, Guizhou in 2002.Thus regional inequalities in income seem greater in China.

    The China Human Development Report 2005 highlights the growing inequalities in China in (1) opportunities and capabilities, (2) income and wealth, and (3) social security and public expenditure. There are large variations in health indicators and availability of health facilities between

    Table 6: Energy and the Environment

    Country Electri-GDP Per Capita Share of city Cons-Per Unit CO2 World’s umption of Energy Emiss-CO2Per Capita Use (2000 ions Emissions (Kwt-hrs) PPP US$ (Metric (Per Cent) 2002 Per Kg of Tonnes) 2000 Oil Equi-2002 valent) 2002

    China 1484 4.6 2.7 12.1 India 569 5.0 1.2 4.7

    Source: HDR 2005.

    urban and rural areas, between rich and poor and between regions in China and India.

    In China the infant mortality rate per 1,000 live births was 14 in urban areas compared to 34 in rural areas. Within rural areas too, there were substantial variations in infant mortality rate between the rich and poor. While the rate was 29 for the top 25 per cent of the rural population, it was 72 for the bottom 25 per cent.This is because of the collapse of the cooperative medical system which, provided health services to the rural poor till 1990. According to HDR 2005 there are large variations in infant mortality rate between the rich and poor in India too. While the infant mortality rate for the top 20 per cent of population is 38.1 per 1,000 live births, for the bottom 20 per cent it is 96.5.

    The disparity in health indicators between the rich and poor can be explained by the fact that private expenditure on health is greater than public expenditure in both countries. Public expenditure on health is 2 per cent of GDP in China and 1.3 per cent for India, while private expenditure on health is 3.8 per cent of GDP in China and 4.8 per cent in India (Table 3). In effect, health financing is being privatised in the two countries, which seems inappropriate for countries with high levels of poverty and wide inequalities in income distribution.

    Looking at inter-regional variations we find that the life expectancy was highest in Shanghai (79.05) and lowest in Tibet

    (65.81) – a range of 13.24. In India too, there are large inter-state variations in life expectancy. According to the Economic Survey 2005-06, Kerala has the highest life expectancy (73.5) while the lowest is for Madhya Pradesh (56.9) – a range of 16.6, which is greater than that for China.

    There are also large variations in literacy rates for different regions and population groups in China and India. In China, the percentage of illiterate/semi-illiterate was the lowest in Beijing (4.61 per cent) and the highest was for Tibet (54.86 per cent). According to the Economic Survey 2005-06, the highest literacy rate in India was for Kerala (90.86 per cent) and the lowest was for Bihar (47 per cent) – a range of 43.86 per cent. Thus, we find that there are large inter-regional variations in literacy rates in both China and India.

    Besides inequalities, human, economic and political freedoms are curtailed in China. The government attempts to curtail free flow of information within China and between China and other countries, through censorship of the internet and media. This is in sharp contrast to India where there are no such restrictions on human freedom. The HDR 1991 presented a human freedom index for 88 countries, which placed China in low freedom ranking countries and India in medium freedom ranking countries.


    The above analysis suggests that though the average achievements in most human development indicators is higher for China, the variability of these indicators over different population groups and regions is also greater. Uneven development has led to a lot of social tension and instability in China. The ever increasing protests by farmers and workers bear testimony to it. The Communist Party of China (CPC) recognises this problem. The CPC’s “go west” policy lead to huge investment in infrastructure and increased fiscal transfer to the western region in an attempt to reduce regional disparities. Agricultural taxes have also been reduced or abolished in most provinces and anti-poverty efforts intensified to tackle the problem of rural-urban disparities. The hukou (household registration) system has accentuated the inequalities in opportunities and capabilities and thus needs to be reformed. The Communist Party needs to pay greater heed to conservation of environment to sustain economic growth.

    India needs to realise the importance of investment in health and education to increase capabilities of its large labour force. Besides, programmes for universal education, steps should be taken to decrease school dropout rates. Also, there is need to increase public expenditure on health facilities to arrest the growing interpersonal and inter-regional inequalities in health outcomes. The demographic edge that India has vis-a-vis China, in terms of a larger population under age 15 (22.7 per cent for China,

    32.9 per cent for India) needs to be consolidated by investment in health and education so that India can become a dominant economic power in the 21st century.




    Government of India (2006): Economic Survey 2005-06.

    UNDP (2005): China Human Development Report

    2005, China Country Office, United Nations

    Development Programme.

    –(2005):Human Development Report 2005,Oxford University Press, New York.

    Economic and Political Weekly August 19 2006

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