India’s record of reducing poverty pales in comparison to China, Brazil and Mexico. What lessons should India learn from these countries in its efforts at reducing poverty?



Muhammed Borhanuddin, M.S. International Relations

An Indian man, Dashrath Manjhi, made history. He shortened a journey of 55 Km to 15 Km by carving a 110-meter way through a hillock using a hammer and chisel by himself alone, simply for his villagers not to die on the way to hospitals in case of emergency. He took 22 years to accomplish this work.


Sincere efforts can make impossible things possible for life.


The Chinese have accomplished the great job simply by a politically unbiased willingness and by their sincere and tireless efforts.


China under the co unist go nments has successfully reduced an amount of poverty and in a period of time that no other nation could imagine, let alone had ever accomplished.


They broke through every barrier along that journey, which we may think possible or impossible, ethical or unethical.


How have they done this?


They have made a united national effort and have poured billions of dollars into those efforts to bridge the impoverished and the well-off—spread the economic achievements through a progressive nationwide infrastructure.


They have forced the impoverished rural people to relocate to where they could make better earnings, thereby a better living.


They have trained the backward people how to work better toward that goal— sometimes in measures that many outsiders like us viewed as human rights violations. But the Chinese have adamantly thrown away those accusations and pushed them forward. Eventually they are close to what they envisioned, what they needed for themselves, carelessly of what you and I viewed as.


One does not need a lot of things to change the fate, but prudence, and a gut and a consistent perseverance. China that has once again ascended after a long stride to becoming the world’s second biggest economy in the span of just a few decades is about to prove it in the lifespan of the current generation.


I do not think anything can hold it back.



Bill Chen, Keen geopolitics observer

想致富,先修路 or, if you want to get rich, build roads first.


This was a popular slogan that was introduced in the early 1980s. Almost every Chinese has internalized this as a key national strategy towards prosperity and a better life.


China has held firm to the belief that if you connect people, wealth will naturally flow downstream and create virtuous cycles of opportunity. In engineering parlance, we call such a system positive feedback.


China connected in stages, starting from the coast. As she grew richer, she took on ever more ambitious projects in the challenging interior, from cutting through mountains, to spanning deep valleys, to bridging huge rivers. China already occupy many of the world’s top 10 records for the highest/longest bridge/tunnel/rail etc.




Once the connections arrive, modernization begins in the various cities, towns and villages served by the transport system.

All this can only happen with tandem growth in the electricity grid.




China from space, 1993



China from space, 2010


Villagers are given land and modern houses built as like-for-like replacements. Life is so good in some rural areas residents are reluctant to change their hukou for the city.



This is what has happened over and over again throughout China over the past 4 decades. The development was necessarily staged, because of the continental size and the abject low base she started from.


How did China eradicate so much poverty? She made money and spent it on the poor in a clever and efficient manner.


In other words, she pumped trillions to fill the gaping hole caused by poverty, and there is a ways to go before the poorest inland provinces reach parity with the coast.



Balaji Viswanathan

China is adjacent to developed countries like Japan & South Korea. They are its top trading partners [Other than the USA].


Mexico is adjacent to the developed nation of USA. Mexico is part of the NAFTA - free trade area with copious trade with USA and Canada.


Brazil is also close to the USA and has other “richer” countries like Argentina and Chile.


India is not adjacent to any developed nation or even a moderately successful nation. India’s neighborhood is in a worse position than India. The recent rise of China and its trade has been helpful to India, but China proper [their eastern seaboard] is still very, very far from India.


India has thus very less trade with its neighbors, unlike the other 3. It has very little pressure to compete or copy as our peers are bigger basket cases than us. While China can copy the other Confucian countries quite easily [similar systems] India doesn’t have easy models to copy.


That said, India can adopt some broader ideas:


1.Get women into the workforce. India is abysmal - even worse than its terrible neighborhood - when it comes to employing women in factories and offices. One thing I’m always fascinated in China is how many women are employed. In public places they always outnumber the men. We are trying to do with one hand what is a two hand job.


2.From Mexico try to imitate the idea of Prospera - A Model from Mexico for the World - where mothers are directly given money by the go nment to spend on their children. For that we also have to solve the problem of drunken husbands. Brazil has a similar program called Bolsa Familia - How to Reduce Poverty: A New Lesson from Brazil for the World? - that again pays families to send children to school.

2.墨西哥试图复制普洛斯佩拉的理念——一个来自墨西哥的世界典范——母亲们直接从政府那里拿钱,花在孩子身上。我们还必须解决醉酒丈夫的问题。巴西有一个类似的项目叫做Bolsa Familia——如何减少贫困:巴西给世界上的一个新教训?-为送孩子上学的家庭支付费用。

3.From China, imitate the idea of barefoot doctors - China’s village doctors take great strides - these village doctors have dramatically changed China’s healthcare indicators. Rather than investing a lot of money on educating professional doctors [MBBS] who will eventually end up in the cities, educate semi-professional village doctors on a massive scale.


4.Really open up the country to trade. Trade as a percentage of GDP is terrible. Both the right wing and the left wing in this country play with a screwed up idea of Swadeshi - buying only local things and not trading freely with the outside world. The culture of fear and distrust permeates everywhere.


5.Build up the infrastructure. Majority of the country’s budget goes into social programs and subsidies. That leaves very little for building the future - the infrastructure needed to build a great manufacturing output.


译文来源:三泰虎 http://www.santaihu.com/49370.html 译者:Joyceliu


Vaibhav Pandey, Geopolitics Observer

Although poverty alleviation has been the goal of all the go nments till now, lack of holistic definition and approach has led to very little changes on the ground.


1.China  can take quick decisions. While China built some of the largest hydroelectricity dams on the earth, Indian go nment faced numerous hurdles in this area. The Sardar Sarovar Dam, recently in news, invited great protests. World Bank even withdrew funding for the dam.

1.中国可以迅速做出决定。中国建造了世界上一些最大的水电站,而印度政府在这方面面临着许多障碍。最近的新闻报道,Sardar Sarovar大坝引起了巨大的抗议。世界银行甚至取消了对大坝的资助。

2.Mexico gained from having the US in its neighborhood. The guarantee of a stable geopolitical environment coupled with trade benefits allowed it to look inwards and invest in poverty alleviation. India has had wars with both China and Pakistan. Peace comes in phases for us. Similar is the case for Brazil.



Reduction in poverty is possible by providing quality service delivery. Also growth in private sector will have a compounded effect on poverty alleviation.


1.Investments in infrastructure should be the top priority for the go nment. Investments in health, energy and education infrastructure are pressing needs for India in the 21st century.


2.Technological improvements in agriculture have to be supplemented with legal aid. Land leasing laws need to be in place.


3.Skilled workforce still remains a distant dream. Employability of Indian graduates is quite low. In order to leverage the huge demographic dividend India must invest in skill development.


4.India must stop viewing the private sector suspiciously and view it as a tool to supplement the public sector. Ease of doing business should be improved and insolvency processes need to be streamlined.



Angad Sharma,

I don’t understand the inclusion of Mexico - Mexico’s has a large amount of its population living under the poverty line. India is doing much better.


In comparison to China, India is still better because China’s economy is built largely on debt, which is close to 250% of its GDP now. This debt will have to be paid back eventually, probably sending China’s GDP growth into the negative and a lot of the population it lifted out of poverty back in.


Brazil has been doing spectacularly poorly, considering its sovereign wealth in natural resources is among the highest in the whole world. Its GDP has dropped drastically since 2010.


India is eliminating poverty in a much more sustainable way than China, and much more efficiently than Brazil considering we don’t have as many resources. Of course, more can be done - like Balaji Viswanathan) suggested - open up trade, cut regulation, include women, and spend on infrastructure over subsidies.

考虑到我们没有那么多资源,印度正在以比中国更可持续的方式消除贫困,也比巴西更有效率。当然,还有更多的事情可以做——就像Balaji Viswanathan建议的那样——开放贸易,削减监管,让女性参与经济发展,并投资建设基础设施,而不是单纯地提供补贴。


Sree V, B Tech Engineering

Our Country did a reasonable job in reducing Poverty . During the 25 years of Liberalisation , % of people below poverty line has come down ( from 45 % to less than 20 %).


Poverty Reduction is possible with a Good Policy Continuum . Major impacting factors are not necessarily Economic


Reasonable Economic Growth


Constant effort to push the people high up on Skill - Value Chain


Developing a Society which does not discriminate on gender /caste /religion basis


Society which respects dignity of labour, quality of skill , Technology , Productivity & quality of life


Our Society which wants to exploit the helplessness of the poor


But Our Political System keeps on encouraging & trapping people into remaining poor by “ Populist schemes”.


Let us look at China’s example. How did they use Technology ? how did they set up manufacturing centres in rural areas to upgrade the skills and make them employable /competitive skills ? It has taken a few years. But they did it. In India , we can also look at how Technology can be used to create competitive rural service centres , to start with our own Industry . Big industries can help in mentoring,Technology , even marketing , financing etc


The key is pouring lot of investments in Skills & Rural Industrial /service Infrastructure ( We are any way spending lakhs of crores on freebees , subsidies , loan waivers etc ) . Involve Private sector / NGOs too. Even if some investments don’t fructify , some industries don’t do well don’t worry . The skills give confidence to the poor , they can fish themselves , they don’t to be given fish everyday


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