China and India: Finding Common Ground

Fan Xiaojian, Chinese Minister for Poverty Alleviation and Development, and Caitlin Wiesen, Country Director, UNDP India, observing Nirmala Devi in Rajasthan, India
Fan Xiaojian, Chinese Minister for Poverty Alleviation and Development, and Caitlin Wiesen, Country Director, UNDP India, observing Nirmala Devi in Rajasthan, India

In a unique example of South-South cooperation, a high-level delegation from China visited India to explore synergies and understand how both countries can deliver employment commensurate to rapid growth.

 To explore synergies and understand how both countries can deliver employment commensurate to rapid growth, a high-level delegation from China was in India recently. A unique example of South-South cooperation the exchange between the two countries provides a powerful tool for learnings across different contexts.

Highlights

  • UNDP facilitated an exchange of views on strategies to measure and reduce poverty in India and China
  • A high-level delegation from China led by Fan Xiaojian, Minister of the State Council Leading Group of Poverty Alleviation and Development, was in India to explore synergies and interact with high level policy makers from India
  • The delegation explored two key UNDP supported initiatives supported by UNDP - the Rajasthan Mission on Skill and Livelihoods and the Mahatma Gandhi NREGP to understand how India tackles the issue of employment delivery
  • Areas of the China experience that could be useful for India were also identified

China and India are among the fastest growing economies in the world. National and international indicators suggest China has already achieved the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the number of people living in extreme poverty by 2015. India too has witnessed a decline in the number of poor and the government estimates suggest the country is on track to achieve the poverty MDG.

As they continue to embark on an accelerated growth trajectory, the challenge of reducing poverty remains of paramount importance for both countries which together account for 40 percent of the world’s population.

To explore synergies, a high-level delegation from China led by Fan Xiaojian, Minister of the State Council Leading Group of Poverty Alleviation and Development, was in India recently on a three-day visit. This exchange of views on strategies to measure and reduce poverty was facilitated by UNDP country offices in China and India and the International Poverty Research Centre on China.

The delegation interacted with leading Indian policymakers including Dr. C.P. Joshi, Minister for Rural Development, Dr. Montek Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Dr. Pronab Sen, Chief Statistician, Government of India, and Dr. Kaushik Basu, India’s Chief Economic Advisor.

Discussions focused on India’s approach to rural development primarily through the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme (NREGP), the world’s largest job-guarantee scheme that provides 100 days of wage labour to any rural household demanding it; approaches to reduce urban poverty; and poverty reduction strategies that are targeted and aim at transformative growth.

Of particular importance was how both countries could deliver employment commensurate with high growth. To understand how India has been addressing this challenge, the delegation explored two key initiatives supported by UNDP -- the Rajasthan Mission on Skill and Livelihoods that aims to upgrade skills of disadvantaged and marginalised communities to access higher income employment and the Mahatma Gandhi NREGP.

The delegation also interacted with community members in Dahmikalan village, close to the city of Jaipur in the desert Indian state of Rajasthan. Members of the local village council -- both men and women -- had animated discussions with the delegation on issues ranging from the village governance structure, employment opportunities, to the role of women in the political arena.

“As India and China continue to develop, there are many similarities and scope for collaboration,” Mr. Fan Xiaojian said. “If I had simply read about NREGP, I would not have thought it would work in China. But the scheme’s multiple roles -- in reducing distress migration to urban areas and encouraging rural development -- are commendable,” he added.

The minister also identified several areas of the China experience that could be useful for India -- the creation of growth centers and employment opportunities in rural areas; a dual focus on agricultural and non-agricultural activities; incentives for urban migrants to retain links to the rural base; and skill development.

According to Caitlin Wiesen, Country Director at UNDP India, “There is increasing recognition that China and India, both fast growing economies, face similar challenges and responsibilities regarding the quality of growth and ensuring that the most vulnerable are reached with social protection. South-South cooperation of this nature can help countries enhance their capacities to reduce poverty. It is a powerful tool that provides for learning across different development contexts.”

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