Thursday, July 2, 2009

India vs China: Urban-rural Income Gap Frustrating

I found a shot article of John Lee in Wall Street Journal about a comparison between India and China in terms of rural poverty and income. When people compare these two countries, normally, they give China a slight edge because of its continuous economic growth and higher per capita income. There is no doubt that China is richer than India. The country has seen a lot of investment in the manufacturing sector and all the major companies in the world have set up their plants in the country. However, because of economic recession, Chinese economy is suffering a lot and the double digit growth is simply gone. Still, in most of economic indicators, China is way ahead of India. However, according to Mr. Lee when it comes to rural areas, India is doing better than its giant neighbor.

Mr. Lee wrote that nearly half of the population in China now lives in rural areas whereas in India, it is two-third of the total population. He also feels that Indian government gives more importance to rural areas than its Chinese counterpart. Well, I think that it is democracy vs communism. In democracy, you have to address to the concern of the rural areas or else you run the risk of losing the next election. In fact, this is the thing that happened in 2004 general election in India. At that time, one of the strongest complains against BJP led alliance government was that they gave too much importance to urban people and neglected the rural people.

Chinese government can afford to act tough as there is no opposition party. May be it brought good result for the country until now as most of the factories are in urban areas and the government could spend a lot of money for improving infrastructures in the big cities or build large highways and bridges and increase electricity production. It worked well until now but the economic recession has perhaps changed the scenario. Several million people lost their jobs in cities and when they went to village then they found that they had hardly anything to do.

Well, I don’t think that there is anything to be excited about India either. A significant portion of Indian rural population is poor, illiterate, unemployed, malnourished and do not have access to basic facilities of life.

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