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What Telangana can learn from China

What Telangana can learn from China
Highlights

What Telangana can learn from China. The Chief Minister of Telangana, K Chandrashekar Rao, is in China. Though he has business and investment agenda on his hand , it is certainly an opportunity to study the Chinese development experience to draw suitable lessons for Telangana, especially as it is a new state and can chalk out a new growth strategy.

Telangana CM Chandrashekar Rao’s China mission is aimed at attracting massive investment. But, the Telangana society can benefit from this opening up, only if the State significantly upgrades its human and social development indicators. Lagging behind on many social and economic parameters, Telangana should take cue from China which paid attention to the rapid expansion of human capability as a part of pursuing fast economic growth. It allowed people to unleash their capabilities and realise their dreams. Telangana, too, should invest in people, like in education, health, sanitation, drinking water, nutrition, apart from infrastructure like irrigation, physical connectivity, energy etc. This is precisely why the people of this region fought for separate statehood

The Chief Minister of Telangana, K Chandrashekar Rao, is in China. Though he has business and investment agenda on his hand , it is certainly an opportunity to study the Chinese development experience to draw suitable lessons for Telangana, especially as it is a new state and can chalk out a new growth strategy.

As the Government of Telangana has embraced a mission to reinvent Telangana, a study of Chinese experience would be of immense value. Making a brilliant analysis of the comparative experience of China and India, Amartya Sen argues, "China made enormous progress – even before market reforms – towards universal access to elementary education, health care and social security."

But, the fundamental flaw in our model of development is that we are embracing the rapid reform paradigm like China, but ignoring the social mission as effectively implemented in the pre-reform China. Telangana is on a mission to attract investments. Chandrashekar Rao’s China mission is also aimed at attracting massive investment.

But, the Telangana society can only benefit from this opening up, if the state significantly upgrades its human and social development indicators. This is precisely what the Chinese experience tells us, but our rulers are still not ready to learn. Over 95 per cent of Chinese today are covered by a publicly funded health care system.

But, the health infrastructure in Telangana is woefully inadequate, leaving the majority of people to the costly health care provided by rapacious private sector. This is despite the fact that Jayati Ghosh Committee, which studied the farmers’ suicides in the united Andhra Pradesh in which Telangana was a part, stating that the second most important reason for peasant indebtedness is the burden of private health care spending.

The health indicators in Telangana are discouraging. The Socio Economic Outlook, Government of Telangana, 2015, states that in six out of ten districts in the State, the infant mortality rate (IMR) is found to be much higher than the national average of 40. In fact, a disaggregated view presents a much more pathetic picture.

For instance, the percentage of home deliveries at 11.5 per cent as per District Level Household Survey (2012-13) conducted by the International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai, is found to be very high in the backward district of Adilabad. Speaking at World Bank, Amartya Sen emphasised on what to learn from China.

This would be amply applicable to the State of Telangana which suffers from low levels of human development, despite being called a ‘rich state.’ China gave a crucial role to the rapid expansion of human capability as a part of pursuing fast economic growth.

A critical part of that strategy has been the use of public revenue, itself expanded by economic growth, to remove huge deficiencies in social, educational and health services, and to meet the growing demands of social and physical infrastructure, while making public services more accountable and efficiently organised.

Summing up the Chinese achievements that date back even to the pre-reform period, the discussion paper ‘CHINA, THE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS, AND THE POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), February 2015,’ States: “China has substantially reduced extreme poverty, infant, child and maternal mortality rates; increased access to primary and secondary education; and made important gains in gender equality and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases.”

But , the new state of Telangana suffers from multiple forms of social and human deprivations that need to be tackled urgently. The data given in ‘Socio Economic Outlook, Government of Telangana, 2015’ substantiates this. The literacy rate in the State at 66.46% is lower than the national average of 72.99%.

It is a matter of concern that the literacy rate in Telangana is lower than those in some of the lower income States like Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. The literacy rate in the State varies from only 55.04% in Mahbubnagar to 83.25% in Hyderabad.

There are also huge differences in the literacy rates of males and females. While the male literacy rate is 74.95%, the female literacy rate is much lower at 57.92%. The literacy rates among the SCs and the STs are 58.90 and 49.51% respectively. But , China has achieved near total literacy several decades ago.

Besides, Telangana suffers from high rates of school dropouts, especially among scheduled castes and scheduled tribe children. The dropout rates are 40.3% for SC students and as high as 62.8% among the ST students. Rapid economic growth is, perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the biggest factors that have helped China perform so well in many of the social and human development indicators. Research reveals that economic development does not automatically lead to high levels of social and human development. But, higher levels of economic growth are essential not only to achieve but also to sustain a high level of human development.

Contrary to China, Telangana is recording sluggish economic growth. The growth rate of Telangana in 2014—15 was a mere 5.3 per cent. In 2012-13, Telangana recorded a growth rate of 4.1%, in 2013-14 it was 4.8%. But, despite recent economic turmoil, China continues to record over 7 per cent growth rate. In fact, estimates suggest that 38 per cent of global growth last year came from China only.

The industrial sector accounts for 24.3 per cent of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) of Telangana. The industry sector consists of mining and quarrying, manufacturing, electricity, gas and water supply and construction sectors. On the contrary, the manufacturing sector alone contributes 34 per cent of China’s national income. Manufacturing sector provides jobs for the average youth.

Telangana with its rich mineral resources and connectivity can boost its Make in Telangana endeavour. China offers critical lessons in this regard. Significant investment in physical infrastructure – roads, high-speed railways, airports, energy, communication networks and social infrastructure – education, and social welfare provisions such as health care and pensions has contributed to more efficient resource allocation, increased economic output, and improvements in the overall wellbeing of the Chinese population.

While GDP growth rates are a good indicator of the overall development of a country’s economy, they do not reflect income inequalities among regions, across the rural-urban spectrum, and between genders. High levels of income inequalities still persist in China. Telangana which already suffers from intra-regional inequalities should be conscious of a development challenge which China also faces today.

For instance in Telangana, six out of ten districts have per capita income lower than the State per capita income. The UNDP study states that China’s success in reducing poverty and achieving high levels of social and human development indicators relied most importantly on the changes within the country that allowed people to unleash their capabilities and realise their dreams.

Precisely, this is what Telangana can learn from China. It should invest in people like in education, health, sanitation, drinking water, nutrition, apart from infrastructure like irrigation, physical connectivity, energy etc. This is precisely why the people of this region fought for separate statehood.

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