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Learning from China

Learning from China
Highlights

Learning from China.Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu is all praise for China. He is obviously looking at the impressive development record of India’s giant neighbour.

The State of Andhra Pradesh should not just confine to inviting investment from China or Japan. The State should learn to urgently improve its human development performance. The pre-reform achievements of China in many aspects of human development like education, literacy, infant mortality, maternal mortality, health care etc., have actually contributed to the post-reform economic achievements. The contrary is true in India. Andhra Pradesh under the leadership of the reform-oriented Chief Minister has to take note of this aspect of the Chinese miracle

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu is all praise for China. He is obviously looking at the impressive development record of India’s giant neighbour. China has long been a front-runner in economic growth and development. It has surprised the world with its massive and mind-boggling infrastructure.

China, Japan and Korea have a lot to offer us in terms of project management capabilities and total quality management. More significantly, countries like China and Thailand provide shining examples of agricultural productivity and manufacturing capabilities which Andhra Pradesh certainly needs to emulate. Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu is right when he emphasised on all these factors, during his briefing on the Chinese visit. But, something which has not received much attention is Chinese experience in human development.

In fact, both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have to learn many lessons as these two Telugu states lag behind in human development. During the last two decades, these two regions in the undivided State have not kept pace with other States in regard to human development indicators, though they are trend-setters in many aspects of economic development. Amartya Sen in several of his works repeatedly explained the reasons behind the Chinese miracle.

Even the annual human development reports of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) have also confirmed this. The pre-reform achievements of China in many aspects of human development like education, literacy, infant mortality, maternal mortality, health care etc., have actually contributed to the post-reform economic achievements. The contrary is true in India.Andhra Pradesh under the leadership of the reform-oriented Chief Minister has to take note of this aspect of the Chinese miracle.

Even the White Paper on Human Resources and Social Development in Andhra Pradesh released by Naidu government itself has underlined this when it said, “An efficient, resilient and healthy social sector is essential for growth, poverty reduction and overall human development. A good and healthy social structure ensures well-being of the people.”

The recent Raghuram Rajan Committee (2013), intended to capture the real picture of underdevelopment in different States based on different underdevelopment indicators such as monthly per capita consumption expenditure, education, health, household amenities, poverty rate, female literacy, percentage of SC/ST population, urbanisation rate, financial inclusion and connectivity, categorised Andhra Pradesh state as a less developed state with the underdevelopment index value at 0.521.

The White Paper further acknowledges the State’s disparaging performance in human development, which is quiet contrary to the experience of China. The White Paper says,” The Human Development Indices of Andhra Pradesh have not showed a great progress in terms of relative rankings among the States. In fact, Andhra Pradesh has not even marginally moved up…” The political leadership of the present State of Andhra Pradesh, while getting inspired by China’s economic reforms, should not be oblivious to this nation’s pre-reform achievements in human development that provided a congenial ground for harnessing the fruits of liberalisation and globalisation.

China has an impressive literacy rate by the time it introduced economic reforms. Amartya Sen said that this literate work force helped China seize the economic opportunity created by the opening up of the economy. But, on the contrary, the State even before the bifurcation itself was the leader in implementing economic reforms despite dismal human development record. This fact should at least be realised now in building the new state of Andhra Pradesh with the cooperation of countries like China and Japan. Even Japan and Korea are the finest examples of human development.

On the contrary, Andhra Pradesh has a dubious distinction of ranking far below in literacy rates. As reflected in 2011 census, unfortunately AP with 67.66 literacy rate stands at 31st position out of 35 ranks of states and union territories put together. It is ahead of only Bihar, Arunachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and Jharkhand.The government‘s white paper effectively narrates this deprivation of Andhra Pradesh, especially in a crucial sector like education.

A comparison of performance in terms of major indicators pertaining to the education sector has revealed that not much progress has been made during the last ten years. Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in the State, which is a key monitorable indicator specified under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), lags behind that in neighbouring States.The GER for Andhra Pradesh for classes I-VIII (6-13 years) during 2012-13 is only 80.42% which is much lower than other southern states – Tamil Nadu with 100 %, Karnataka with 88.67% and Maharashtra with a GER of 92.27%.

Dropout rate up to elementary level is high, standing at 19.06% which is against the spirit of Right to Education (RTE) Act. The dropout rate at secondary level is even higher, standing at 24.62%.This educational deprivation incapacitates State from capitalising on the demographic dividend. Unless corrected urgently, this deprivation can prove to be a demographic nightmare.The record of Andhra Pradesh in regard to health indicators is also discouraging.

The official statistics also reveal this. The White paper on social sector says, “The rate of decrease in IMR has been very disappointing in the State despite the increase in institutional deliveries. An analysis of IMR shows that most of the deaths among infants occur during the neonatal period i.e. first four weeks of life (66% of total IMR) and more so during the first one week which is referred to as early neonatal period (80% of neonatal deaths)…”

On the nutrition front, one in every five children is born with a low birth weight of less than 2.5 kg; one in every three children (below five years) is underweight; and two in every three children and adolescent girls are anemic. The prevalence of anemia is also very high among pregnant and lactating mothers. The problem is compounded by the fact that 54.8% of girls are getting married below the age of 18 years.

The sex ratio among 0-6 years has come down in Andhra Pradesh (13 districts) from 964 in 2001 to 944 in 2011. The fall in sex ratio, especially child sex ratio, indicates low level of human development.The State of Andhra Pradesh should not just confine to inviting investment from China or Japan. The State should learn to urgently improve its human development performance.

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