Can India learn lessons from China's invaluable poverty reduction policies?
By Rabi Sankar Bosu
During an inspection tour of Zunyi County in Guizhou province from June 16 to 18, 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping told villagers that "a good life is created with one's own hands" and nothing will stand in their way if they are confident and determined. President Xi is absolutely right as Zunyi County has been lifted out of poverty in recent years under the leadership of Communist Party of China (CPC).
Chinese President Xi Jinping talks with villagers at Huamao Village of Fengxiang Township in Zunyi County, southwest China's Guizhou Province, June 16, 2015. Xi had an inspection tour in Guizhou Province from June 16 to 18.[Photo： Xinhua]
Indeed, China made an active contribution to the world's poverty reduction. The nation is the largest contributor to the UN's Millennium Development Goal of halving the number of people in poverty worldwide, and the success was delivered by a combination of strong leadership, comprehensive policies, targeted measures, increased investment and incentives providing inspiration for global poverty alleviation governance.
During the 11th ASEAN-China Forum on social development and poverty reduction, held in Siem Reap, Cambodia on July 26th and 27th, Nick Beresford, United Nations Development Program (UNDP)-Cambodia country director, praised China for its great success in reducing poverty, lifting hundreds of millions of its people out of poverty. He said China's best practices and successful experiences in poverty reduction should be a "role model" for ASEAN countries.
Chinese leaders' strong commitment to eliminating hunger and illiteracy has certainly helped China's economic and social advancement and deserves much praise. In November 2013, President Xi Jinping first put forward the concept of targeted poverty alleviation. President Xi said at the annual session of the National People's Congress in Beijing on March 8, 2017, "It is the Party's solemn pledge to help all impoverished rural populations out of poverty under the current standard and delist all poor counties by 2020."
On the other hand, despite vast physical and cultural resources, Indian masses, both in rural and urban areas, have been reeling under poverty and unemployment for centuries. According to the World Bank's poverty line norm, India has the highest number of people living below the poverty line, with 30 per cent of its population under the $1.90 a day poverty measure.
It is a pity that after 71 years of India's independence, thousands of families in India cannot find enough to feed themselves and, in a moment of complete dejection, they commit suicide, often collectively. Forty-eight percent of Indians don't even have access to toilets. Around 65 percent of rural households have no sanitation facility. It's a fact that access to drinking water and electricity within homes continues to be a distant dream for millions of Indians.
Rural poverty is further compounded by India's enormous health burden; India accounts for more than one quarter of the world's TB cases and deaths. In India, most villages don't possess even a small hospital. Unfortunately, in India's noisy political democracy, politicians are not too interested in alleviating poverty. China has recorded tremendous achievements in poverty alleviation.
Thanks to 38 years of reform, opening-up and socialist modernization first promoted by Deng Xiaoping, China has lifted over 700 million people out of poverty, accounting for more than 70 percent of the global reduction in poverty and significantly made life better for its 1.3 billion-plus people. This is an unparalleled achievement and truly inspiring.
According to the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020), China is aiming to eliminate poverty by 2020. Over 55.6 million Chinese rural residents were lifted out of poverty from 2013 to 2016, and at least another 10 million will shake off poverty by the end of this year, meaning the number of rural Chinese lifted out of poverty in five years will exceed 65 million.
China has come up with many innovative and effective practices in targeted poverty alleviation. In the course of realizing the "Two Centenary Goals" and the Chinese Dream of revitalizing the nation, it has focused on safeguarding and improving people's well-being, advancing all social programs, and protecting people's rights to equal participation and development.
China's Internet-based poverty alleviation method has set an example for the rest of the world. On May 26, the Chinese government launched the Global Poverty Reduction Online Knowledge Sharing Database at the 2017 China Poverty Reduction International Forum in Beijing. As China continues to take a more active role in poverty alleviation on the global stage, it is an ideal position to be a close partner with other developing countries and share the lessons it has learned from its own poverty reduction experience.
The Chinese Government has been pushing forward its "Internet Plus" strategy in poverty reduction efforts. It has accelerated the government's poverty reduction efforts in rural areas. According to China's Ministry of Commerce, 120,000 poverty-stricken families joined the e-business sector in 2016. The government's plan is to take e-business to more than 80 percent of villages by 2020. India can follow this model to carry out poverty alleviation efforts.
India's various welfare schemes will get a tremendous boost if it can learn lessons from China's experiences and achievements in poverty alleviation through the Southwest Poverty Reduction Project, the Poor Rural Communities Development Project, the Guangxi Rural Poverty Alleviation Pilot Project, the Qinba Mountains Poverty Reduction Project, the Gansu and Inner Mongolia Poverty Reduction Project, to mention a few.
Truly, China's best practices and successful experiences in poverty reduction should be a "role model" for India where 270 million people live below the poverty line. With a truly remarkable track record, China is undoubtedly a world-leader in poverty reduction and improving health outcomes and there is a lot the rest of the world can learn from its experience, including India.
(Rabi Sankar Bosu is the Secretary of New Horizon Radio Listeners' Club in West Bengal, India.)