The population explosion of China and India is in general what is holding each country back from becoming competitive powers in the developing world. With India’s population at more than one billion and China’s population at 853 million, the global effect on security, food, energy, and the environment will be immense. Both countries have tried to persuade couples to limit family size. However, the Indian government has not been as successful as China. The Indian government has had greater difficulty reaching into villages to try and force peasants to limit the number of children they can bear.
India has greater localized poverty, illiteracy, and child mortality. Therefore, the desire to have children in order to enhance family income remains strong. Forced sterilization, mistrust of government, dangerous and inefficient contraceptive devices have caused a powerful public reaction against limiting family size. Even if adequate birth control were available the response to limit family size would probably still be negative because of the cultural and religious diversity that exists in India-something China has not had problems with. China has had some success in being able to control their population explosion.
The rise in living standards during the first decade of communism produced a surge in China’s population. ” The Great Leap Forward” disrupted the economy, reduced food production and distribution, and caused widespread famine. (166) The reaction of the Chinese people was to have lots of children. This population boom gave way to some of the strictest family planning rules imposed on the people of China. Couples were to marry in their late twenties and only have one child. Those who did not follow these rules were subject to fines, loss of jobs, social and educational privileges, and forced into late term abortions.
Today some of the rules of population growth have been loosened, but the consequences remain the same. The threat of economic gains being swallowed up by the population growth is something each government has to take into serious account. Since each country depends highly on agriculture, this will play a key role in avoiding famine and encouraging long-term growth. India’s rise in agricultural output was the result of the “green revolution”. The country normally has sufficient stock in hand to meet drought and famine conditions.
However, the signs are that the green revolution has largely spent itself. 170) One of the reasons is that the improved wheat and rice need adequate fertilizers and irrigation. China’s rise in agriculture has been greater because of the abandonment or communal farming. Reforms were put in the place of the collective system. These allowed families to farm as they wished and sell their food surplus in the open market. Restrictions on land labor were lifted and prices paid for agricultural goods were raised. All seemed well until grains stopped meeting official targets and the country began to depend on grain imports.
The government’s goal is to increase grain output in order to stop dependence on foreign markets. This however seems impossible since there is little land available for crops and the government has no money to spend on farm equipment, fertilizers, seeds, and improved processing. In order for agricultural stability to take place the country must first match its crop output with its population growth. A way of reducing population growth would be through industrialization. This would move the Chinese and Indian economies into manufacturing and services.
Therefore urbanizing their population and undergoing a demographic transition. The creation of industrialism in these two countries is central to them preparing for the twenty-first century. This would strengthen the countries defense base, reduce dependence on foreign markets, and enhance the country’s national income. However, the pace of industrialism in India has not been enough to keep up with its population increases. While the economy did grow from 1950-1980 it was not enough for it to keep up with its neighbors and therefore it began to lag behind them.
According to Kennedy, India’s decision to turn away from world markets in order to protect domestic industries was one of the greatest causes for their industrial stagnation. The country’s companies relied too much on state spending. In China liberalization policies put forth in 1978-79 allowed for transformations in manufacturing, commerce, consumer good, and foreign trade. Small businesses sprang up and foreign entrepreneurs swarmed into China in order to fulfill demand for electronics and household goods. Even though this growth was good, it also created a gap in living standards.
Coastal regions are more developed than the inland province. Here there is still little foreign investment and great suspicion of capitalism. This gap in living standards makes it difficult to preserve national unity. The regional economic differentiation causes an emergence of two entirely different systems of political economy. Therefore making foreign investors somewhat reluctant to enter the country. Clashes within the countries are not the only problems China and India have to deal with. Both countries have rivaled with their neighbors for years. This diverts the efforts to prepare these countries for the twenty-first century.
The countries must now worry about their national security. Money that could be spent on handling population growth and improving the country’s economy must now be spent on protecting the country. China and India rank considerably high in global military power. China possesses land-based missiles and continues to test nuclear devices. India has the ability to become a nuclear power. (178) At a time when both these countries need to invest in long-term growth in order to catch up to the developed countries, they have invested their resources in military related production rather than commercial export.
Even though China and India are rich with human capital, it has served them little purpose because of the quality of education. In China only sixty-nine percent of the population is literate. In India it is even lower, forty-three percent, and most are male. The number of children attending schools in China is rising. However, it remains to be seen if schools will be able to provide more than the basic education. In India, education traditions are not strong and the socioeconomic obstacles are enormous.
Higher education in China and India is difficult to achieve especially for the poor. Furthermore, because of the countries low GNP it is difficult for the state to help finance education. Those who do achieve a higher education usually emigrate to the developed world because of the lack of suitable employment and opportunities in their country. Improving education is difficult in these countries because capital must be taken from other sectors. Therefore stagnating growth in that area. Catching up and preparing for the twenty-first century will not be an easy task.
Kennedy illustrates that if China and India triple their average standard of living it would damage their local environment, local health, and the earth’s atmosphere. (192) The issues being faced by these two countries are not their problem alone. Developed countries will also feel the impact. They must not only help India and China but also educate their own inhabitants for the problems that will arise. Through school teachers can inform pupils of these problems. Students can then study the outcomes of the problems and what can be done to ease the strains.
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