Friday, June 21, 2013

Amartya Sen: Why India Trails China: Lessons for Sri Lanka

This was a NY Times op-ed by  "Nobel Memorial Economics" prize winner Amartya Sen.  Amartya Sen  covers most of the known issues such as
  • a) India has done worse than China in educating its citizens and improving their health?
  • b) Death by Famine in China (I will address this issue at end)
  • c) Education at all levels of society.
One aspect Amartya Sen does not cover is the role of religion.  China may have followed Confucianism and Buddhism in the past, but under Mao it was made secular.  India remains religious, and even tolerant of the base (pun intended) ideas of the "Varna Dharma".  The Asian Tigers: Japan, Taiwan, Korea too are now to a great extent secular regardless of their original/present religious affiliations.

What are the take home messages for Sri Lanka,  which is in transition. 

Excerpts of NYT article

In China, decision making takes place at the top. The country’s leaders are skeptical, if not hostile, with regard to the value of multiparty democracy, but they have been strongly committed to eliminating hunger, illiteracy and medical neglect, and that is enormously to their credit.
Unlike India, China did not miss the huge lesson of Asian economic development, about the economic returns that come from bettering human lives, especially at the bottom of the socioeconomic pyramid.
India’s growth and its earnings from exports have tended to depend narrowly on a few sectors, like information technology, pharmaceuticals and specialized auto parts, many of which rely on the role of highly trained personnel from the well-educated classes
For India to match China in its range of manufacturing capacity — its ability to produce gadgets of almost every kind, with increasing use of technology and better quality control — it needs a better-educated and healthier labor force at all levels of society.

India has not had a famine since independence, while China had the largest famine in recorded history, from 1958 to 1961, when Mao’s disastrous Great Leap Forward killed some 30 million people.
India may not have had a famine since independence.  In reality what happens is attrition by  malnutrition and starvation. In India 27 million children are born each year , but nearly 2 million of them are dead by the age of five.  Also as the Wall Street Journal reports (read comments too) the most tragic and outrageous consequence of India’s failure to feed its people adequately: starvation deaths.

NYT Op-Ed:

No comments:

Post a Comment