Rural reforms : The lessons for India to be learnt from China

 | September 28,2010 11:50 am IST

India and China

Two largest populated countries of the world and next door neighbors; though greatly different in their cultures, lifestyles and most important pace of growth.

 

Maintaining an edge over India in the manufacturing sector and urban infrastructure development, China is also not lagging behind in the rural development sector.

China feeds 21% of the world population with only 9% of the world arable land.

 

The 2nd largest populated country has to bring about reformation from a weak resource base: a below average amount of per capita agricultural land, an industry which is only partly modernized and hence incapable of absorbing the predominant rural labor, social and income disparities, great regional differences and most importantly the low levels of education and awareness amongst the rural masses.

 

The first major difference between India and China comes from the fact that China is buildings and roads are not in its cities. In 2002, the built up area of China’s village landscapes came to be at least five times greater (0.18 million km2) than the total combined area of all of China's cities (0.03 x million km2). Even the increase in village built-up area since 1950 (0.14 x million km2) is four times greater than that of China's urban area. If this seems impossible, then you need to know a very basic fact i.e. 800 million rural people, mostly in villages, versus 500 million in cities. And like most rural populations, these are far more spread out than urban populations: more road area per person and a far larger housing footprint per capita (most city people in China live in large multi-story apartment blocks).

 

During 1987-1990, ideas were put forward for bringing rural reforms in china which eventually decided the destiny of Today’s china.

 

Self sufficiency with grain
The primary objective of the PRC’s rural policy had always been to achieve near self sufficiency in grain. This comes out to be peculiar in lieu of the fact that with respect to a considerably large population, china’s arable land resources were considerably small and that large parts of the crops are suitable for the production of crops which can yield high incomes; a strategy of producing high grade agriculture product and using the proceeds to further buy foreign grain seemed definitely advantageous , especially in a situation when there is a predominant grain surplus in the world market and a great potential for grain production in other countries.

 

However, china came with a good reason for maintaining its grain sufficiency policy. Firstly, the domestic price of grain is lower than that in the world markets, and with the existing public sector subsidies for urban grain consumption, dependence on foreign grain would not only put a strain on foreign currency reserves but would also have a direct affect on the state budget in the form of consumption subsidies. Secondly, china wanted to avoid the lever for major grain producers, like the USA, which could link sale of grain to political demands.

 

The establishment of Qian Yan Zhou experimental station
The term "South China mountainous and hilly regions" clearly indicates about the type of geography of the area, especially the subtropical climate and the physical profile of the major part of the arable resources and at the same time indicates the poverty and low levels of development in this area. In addition to that after 1932 this area suffered from great loss of labor owing to Mao’s red army formation and later mass scale deforestation to fuel the Great Leap Forward. The situations went worse as time passed and the whole area transformed into a wasteland. The government of PRC actually took heed to establish an experimental station in the QIAN Yan County to promote the rejuvenation of these wastelands into agricultural lands. This very act not only points out the endeavor of the Chinese government towards the betterment of rural populace but also reflects the apathy of the Indian counterparts if we talk of comparison in similar spheres.

 

A new policy on science and technology
For achieving agricultural modernization, agricultural research the reforms were led by the new policies in 1983.The salient features of the policies is:

 

System building- research institutes at the national level should focus on basic and applied research and those at provincial level should concentrate on applied and adaptive measures for special localities and finally a confluence of these would be centered at the county level.

 

Rural technical education - Higher agricultural educational institutions would have to enroll more number of peasant students and more vocational schools and colleges have to be opened in the countryside.

 

Incentives for S&T personnel – special salary treatment and rewards would be given for S&T personnel who worked at the grassroots levels.

 

Technical contract system - a technical contract system would be introduced to promote the linkage between the research and production units.

 

Although there isn’t any way to quantify the ways in which new technologies are introduced in the rural set up, but a strong culture of village meetings has undoubtedly been the best in this respect. Regular meetings of the Heads of villages takes place both as smaller and larger level with a purpose of discussing policies, laws , agricultural production in terms of plans, targets and issues and getting informed about the new technologies being introduced. This type of system although also very prominent in the Indian context does not cater to the same level of results owing to the lack of continuity and commitment among the members.

 

Again a very important aspect which has always been evident and deliberately kept out of focus in official debates is the demand and necessity for granting more political and institutional power to the Indian peasants. Political participation by peasants in India has been centered basically on the local influence rather than on national policies which by and large directly affect the livelihood of peasants.

 

Reform in Village Leadership: Peasant Discontent and Democratic Elections
The specter of peasant discontent and unrest has already appeared in parts of the countryside that remain mired in poverty. Peasants have always had the means to show their unhappiness with government policies and local officials, even during the Maoist period .While the peasants seem not to have demanded the democratic rights as the students and intellectuals in 1989; they seem to be aware that they should have their influence on the legislative process. The peasants have been given due representation in the NPC by a fixed quota system, by which peasant delegates were allocated 315 seats in 1988.The representation of the peasants ensures the viewpoint of peasants and their benefits to be taken care of while formulation of the government policies.

 

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Comments


Guest on 10/22/10 at 09:28 am

it good whats indian s must to emplemnt such thise type of policies for a development and become no 1............