China and India are two great nations forming the two sides of the same geo-coin of mighty Himalayas. Both have a glorious past going back to thousands of years in the history; both were linked with other ancient trade centres by the ancient silk route; both were cradles of great civilizations, philosophies and religious traditions. China and India are the first and second in population and are struggling with problems like hunger, poverty and unemployment. Both are predominantly agrarian.
I was fortunate to have spent a month in China studying the way China is tackling their national problems similar to that of ours in India. There are many things to compare between these two nations. But this write up focuses only on three common key issues such as food consumption, employment generation and capital formation comparing the way both countries are tackling or not tackling these issues.
Food consumption, employment generation and capital formation are three key factors intricately linked with each other much more than all other factors of development of a nation. An unemployed person will be hungry every day. A hungry and unemployed person is a liability to the nation. Employment is linked with capital formation which is an essential factor for the development of any country.
A country with people having very fussy and finicky food habits will have more hungry and poor people and their productivity will be very low or nil. They become more of parasitic consumers than producers. A nation’s prosperity is directly linked with the productivity of the people of that country.
India is a typical example of the statement given in the above box. Indian food taboos are so irrational compared to the people of China. Many Indians will go hungry to death instead of eating a food which is forbidden by their religion or tradition. They are so fussy and finicky about the food they consume and millions of Indians become malnourished or under-nourished to sickness and death. In India religious prescriptions are more important than life prescriptions: Invisible Injustice.
On the other hand Chinese are on the whole omnivorous. They eat anything and everything of any living creatures. This type food habit saves a lot of Chinese from hunger related sicknesses noticed very much in India. They rear all kinds of domestic animals for meat, milk and other non-edible products. The cattle in China are slaughtered after their productive age for food and commercial utilization of their body parts. Besides flesh foods Chinese are known for consuming all types of conventional and nonconventional vegetables, pulses, spices and herbs. Most of the eating places will grow various types of herbs in pots or any other containers for easy access during cooking. In India most of them are strict vegetarians. Many in India consider non-vegetarians as leading an inferior life and are held to be untouchable: Invisible Injustice.
Employment Generation: The Socialist Slogan of Mao, “Each one will be given according to his need” was later modified into “Each one will be given according to the work he does or did”. Hence every able bodied person in China works and produces something substantial in the agriculture or industrial sector. Migration of unemployed youth from the rural areas to cities is as serious a problem in China as we find in India. But in China migration to cities is regulated and all of them are engaged in production centres manufacturing something or other which we see all over the world as Chinese products. During the work they do not talk or waste time. Country and family comes first for Chinese people; self discipline and punctuality is of highest value for every Chinese and is insisted upon everyone from birth to death; after an eight hour work he/she has time and facilities for rest, relaxation and entertainments to be ready for the next day’s work.
Employment is generated in numerous government and private production centres. Just the opposite is the case in India: many production centres are being closed down. The productivity of Indians in India is perhaps the lowest in the world. People in India are very good at giving “b hashan’ and the longest talking records always go to them. Bhagwan Rajneesh remarked, “In India people talk, talk and talk till their teeth fall down; how often we see in our country, one man digs while three others give directions”. The culture of work in our ‘ Arsha Bharat’ is at its very low ebb; in a highly caste ridden Indian society different types of manual works are assigned to different types of scheduled castes. The upper castes never do any manual work; they are only to give “Bhashan” or “Gyan” which they would never practice: Invisible Injustice.
Another characteristic of Indian labour force is continuous and every day strike of work and destruction of capital goods. According to the estimate of Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) in 2016 alone the loss due to strike affecting trade, transport, key manufacturing facilities and banking services caused a loss of Rs 16,000-18,000 crores. According to the Labour Bureau Estimate India lost 11.73 lakh man days due to strikes alone in 2017. That means loss of billions and billions of rupees worth products.
The ubiquitous presence of numerous Chinese products flooding the world market is the real proof of China’s efficient use of human labour. China’s copycat production phenomenon is debatable and the arguments swing between both sides with equal weightage. In a free market economy competency seems to take upper hand over patency. That aside, it is now a universally accepted fact that Chinese are among the most productive labour force in the world and sadly it has to be admitted that the opposite is true with the Indian labour which are excelling in trade union politics, strikes and destruction of property.
Chinese labourer produces more than he consumes while Indian labourer consumes more than he produces; a Chinese labour is constructive while the Indian labour is destructive: perennial and ubiquitous strike is the most cancerous disease of Indian industrial economy. China’s government may be communist but its people have embraced capitalistic mode of production. An opinion poll in 2014 showed that about 76% of the Chinese agree that most people are better off in a free market economy. But free market economy without solid base of diversified production or dependence on one or two products but depending mostly on imports, as happened in the case of “Boliverianism” in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador is suicidal. The root cause of the collapse of the former East Germany was the “Free giving political economy”. In spite of the ubiquitously seen and heard slogan “Make in India” our country is banking more and more on imports and China tops as India’s import partner: Invisible Injustice.
The biggest dairy farm in the world milking over 1,00,000-cows supplying milk and cheese to the Russian market is in China. This dairy farm roughly covers the same land area as Portugal and is located in Northeast of China. The second biggest dairy farm is also in China. An efficiently run dairy farm is the proof of the efficiency and diligence of all the labourers in it. China ranks first in worldwide farm output, primarily producing rice, wheat, potatoes, tomato, sorghum, peanuts, tea, millet, barley, cotton, oilseed and soybeans. Although accounting for only 10% of arable land worldwide, it produces food for 20% of the world's population.
Why and how China has become the second biggest economy in the world while India remains at the 141st position in spite of it possessing far better natural resource continuum as compared to China? The contrast between the people of India and China cannot be expressed in any better way than the statement given in the box below.
A people of omnivorous food habit with a tirelessly working culture producing amazingly diversified products in numerous well-run manufacturing hubs form the launching pad for China’s tremendous capital formation and an all-round development of the people and the country. In India mostly these characters are just the opposite.
(The writer is retired Professor, XIM Bhubaneswar. E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org)(Published on 20th August 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 34)