Population and policy


UNESCO (undated) stated that development empowers persons; this results in more positive changes in their lives. However, in order for the individual to benefit from development it must be coupled with education. As such education may be deemed as a critical social mechanism for developing human resources and economic development. The World Bank (1996) also stated that the expansion of education in the majority of developing nations has been a primary goal for the past thirty-years. The World Bank further noted that there is a correlation between the expansion of education and the enhancement of healthcare and a county's productivity.

Educating women is important for many reasons. When females are educated there are more likely to grow up as healthier women with smaller families. Furthermore, their offspring are more likely of becoming healthier and more educated. The benefits of educating females is not only restricted to the family environment, but extends to the community. However, this should not give an individual the ideology that educating females is more imperative and as a result leaving their male counterparts to suffer (UNICEF 2002). Furthermore, UNESCO (undated) noted that there is a strong correlation between the level of female education and HIV/ AIDS pervasiveness. Educated women also are inclined to partake enthusiastically in political procedures, and making choices within their family and society. Therefore, any government that is serious about development in their country should formulate educational policies that will minimise or eradicate any gender disparities that exist (UNICEF 2002).

In this essay I discuss the contrasting approaches of India and China towards their female populations and the level of access they had to school. However, emphasis will be placed on the period from the formation of these countries as an independent country/ Liberal Democratic (India) and a Socialist State (China) to present times. Comparison of these countries will be political/governmental policies and cultural factors.

Conceptualising the Term "Development"

UNESCO (undated) defined development as societal transformation that enhances the welfare and progression of its citizens without producing dissonance. The Economics for Development website (2009) noted when national development occurs; citizens are exposed to a better quality of life. There are many indicators used to measure Human Development. These include the Chid Dependency Ratio, Gini Index, and Education Index (UNDP 2009). However, development in this essay refers to the Gender-related Development Index (GDI). This index looks at the same dimensions as the Human Development Index (HDI); but takes into account the inequality that exists in accomplishments between both sexes. When the GDI improves the HDI also improves because the GDI is a component of the HDI. However, when the GDI regresses it is consequential because the HDI also regresses (UNDP 2009).

The HDI measures three areas of human development; this includes life expectancy, literacy rate and standard of living. The increase in life expectancy is gauged through the society's well-being and life expectancy. The literacy rate is measured by how literate the adult population in combination with the gross enrolment at primary, secondary, and tertiary levels. The Standard of Living is calculated as a "natural logarithm of gross domestic product per capita at purchasing power parity" (UNDP 2009).

What Makes India and China Comparable

Analysis of India and China based on access of female students to school is comparable for three major reasons. Firstly, during the late 1940's both countries' economic situation was similar. Parents in both societies preferred to educate their sons over their daughters and both countries were plagued with high levels of illiteracy. Developing an economy that would grow rapidly was challenging for the governments. Therefore, because these states underwent state formation at similar periods and a way to develop is through expanding educational systems, as mentioned before, comparing these two countries lends the opportunity to discuss the various educational policies that were implemented by both governments. It also provides an explanation of why China's economy grew quicker than India's. Rao, Cheng and Narain (2003) stated that by the 1980's China had begun economic liberalisation while India became economically liberalised during the 1990s.

Secondly, The United Nations Secretariat (2009) stated that China (19.62%) and India (17.25%) were the most populated countries in the world. Furthermore, Rao et.al (2003) indicated that these two countries combined account approximately for 45% of the world's primary school's population. When comparing both countries according to population composition in terms of gender the results were slightly different. These results were calculated: India- males 57.7% and females 42.3%; and China -males 51.9% and females 48.1% (United Nations Secretariat 2009). These populations are also comparable because the majority of citizens reside in rural areas. Furthermore, there is great disparity between the levels of development between areas of each country in terms of the infrastructure that has an effect on the development of education (Rao et.al 2003).

Thirdly, both countries' societies are affected tremendously by their history. However, some of these beliefs (e.g. caste system) have been detrimental and may have acted as a negative factor for national development. Do both countries have a caste system? What about the issues of the one child rule in China?

Access to School in India and China

The access to schools for females occurred at different rates between China and India. Ross (2006) stated that in China in 1949 it was 19.8%. However, the lecture presented by Dr. Still revealed that 28 % of the women had access to school in India. However, Ross (2006) stated that access for females in Chinese schools were only 24.1% in 1978. The access of women in India at this time was slightly higher and Mazumadar (1996) indicated that in 1962 women's access to school was 32%. In 1995 Ross (2006) indicated that 82.2% of Chinese women were accessing school However, in 1997 Rao et. al (2003) indicated that 98.9% of Chinese, and 64% Indian women were accessing school However in 2004, based on information received in the lecture by Dr. Still only 47% of women where accessing school while Ross (2006) stated by this period approximately 99.1% of females were accessing schools in China. Although there is much dispute on the percentage of women's access to school the figures revealed that overall China was more successful.

Factors that Affect School Access

Some reasons why China developed faster than India will be discussed in this section. Stating that the Governments of both countries did not attempt to increase the access of females to schools would be unfair. When both nations were formed the governments formulated five year educational schemes that were aimed at increasing enrolment, reduction of illiteracy, etc.,?? of the countries to increase development (Rao et.al 2003). I will analyse the disparities in the access of school for girls and the different rates of development for both countries based on political/governmental policies and cultural factors.

Political/ Governmental Policies

Leadership Styles

The leadership styles of India and China were different from state formation. India is a democratic society while China is a Socialist State. Socialism in China is a form of communism patterned from the Soviet Union's governing style (Pepper 1996).

Evidence suggests that under a communist regime, or countries which were communist, are expected to have higher literacy rates, and access for all citizens. This maybe rooted in the argument that communism provides a more egalitarian ideology. Furthermore, this type of government is authoritative, hence strong; and policies implemented by the Government of China had to be enforced. However, India's democratic government was weaker, which resulted in policies not being enforced as quickly. According to the UNDP's (2009) report entitled Human Development Report 2009 Overcoming Barriers: Human mobility and development the eleven countries in the world with the highest literacy rates (excepting Slovenia and Barbados) have some form of communist regime implemented or were communist before (see Appendix-1). Although China is not rated as one of the top eleven most literate nations in the world, it is still ranked some 67 places before India with over 30% difference (UNDP 2009).

Literacy rates in India according to states revealed that the state with the highest literacy rate was Kerala (see Appendix-2). In Kerala the local government is communist /authoritative. According to Frossard (1997) Kerala spends its resources on basic education, food and health care on its constituents fairly. Kerala is also against the caste system. Therefore, based on the tenants of communism/authoritative governance it is not surprising that the Kerala Local Government has yielded higher literacy rate for female is 65%, while fertility rate was only 3.4% (Asia Pacific Population 1990). Although communism appears to lead to higher literacy rates, further research is required, since other factors may also need to be present.

China is also a developmental state. Woo-Cumings (1999) stated that a developmental state explains the modernization of East Asia. Furthermore, Johnson (1982) as noted in Woo-Cummings (1999:1) stated that 'it is a shorthand for the seamless web of political, bureaucratic, and moneyed influences that structures economic life in capitalist Northeast Asia" .The Chinese government manages its developmental strategy through industrialisation, in an autocratic setting. Government controls the fiscal adjustments of the country, and interferes if necessary, though its authority is not unlimited. Developmental state does not equate accomplishment for a nation, but ample for developmental endeavors. Therefore, China placed development at the vanguard (Bolesta 2007).

Policies in Universalising Education

India attempted to universalise their primary education, but past policies are responsible for the educational system currently. During the 1950's the government's emphasis was on opening schools, not attracting females to attend, reduce dropout rates and improve classroom learning (Rao et al. 2003). Based on a lecture conducted by Dr. Clarinda Still, no special attention was given to the scheduled or tribal caste of the female population. During this period only 28% of the females of the Dalits were enrolled in school (see Appendix 3a-b).

Since the 1950's the government has changed its policies and growth has begun sluggishly. The educational policy- "The National Policy on Educational" (GOI 1986a, 1992a) and the "Programme of Action" (GOI 1986b, 1992b) that was developed had two major approaches at dealing with this problem. These approaches primarily focused on developing literacy in the adult population and state primary education. However, emphasis was primarily on women and other disadvantaged groups e.g. Scheduled Caste, etc. Other schemes have been implemented in the development of universal primary education. These schemes (GOI 2000) included constructing schools near homes to prevent children from travelling far to school operation black board, teacher education, school meals etc. (Rao et.al 2003).

In the 1960's it was apparent that for countries to develop a substantial amount of money needed to be invested into education and the Indian government failed to invest the necessary funds. Actually less money was spent on the 6th plan than on the 5th plan, where 2.7% was spent on the 6th plan and 7.9% was on the 5th plan, however more funds were invested in higher education between the 1st and 5th plans, but there was a decrease from 65% to 35% during this time (Tilak 1990).???

Failure to achieve universal primary education is the result of the various policies implemented. These policies were not clear on what was required to achieve the desired goals. According to Drbze and Sen (1995) data collected on the 1987 survey revealed that the majority of children who were enrolled into school completed the mandatory years, and 26% males and 51% females of their counterparts never accessed school. The Indian Government had stated that by 1995 there would be 100% universal education. This goal has not been realised yet; and still they have not enforced the law for children to attend school for the mandatory years. The United Nations (2008) stated that the Indian government is seeking to lessen the dropout level for the mandatory school age from 52.2% to 20% by December 2011.

When China was formed in 1949 emphasis was placed on the development of primary education. These policies included promoting education in the rural areas and addressing the inequity that existed between rural and urban education. These policies took into consideration the differences according to location which resulted in formulating a policy best suited to achieve the national goal (Rao et.al 2003). It is based on this approach that China was more successful because the masses that were not necessarily the most affluent were included.

During 1997 both countries invested similar amounts of funds into education, with India investing 11.6% and China 11.9%. One point to note is that dropouts from school has been problematic in both countries, however China has been more effective at dealing with this problem. The chief reason why children from China drop out of school is lack of funds. However, this is not the reason for India, since education is free. Their reasons are more deep-seated in culture and will be discussed further in the essay (Rao et al. 2003).

Policies and the Enforcement of the Educational Law on Primary School Universal Education

Difference in the leadership styles resulted in China enforcing educational laws and policies more effectively than India. For example, from independence the Indian Government has made many attempts to improve the access of education to female members of society. Although the Indian government announced in the 45th article of their constitution that education was to be expanded at all levels, making it universal, free and compulsory across the country by 1962; female participation still remained a concern (Shamara and Shamara 1996). When China universalised education the government put legislation in place to ensure that the masses were educated. Rao et. al (2003) reported that parents who did not send their children to school were taken to court. Therefore it may be concluded that since Chinese laws are so strict due to the governmental style it was easier for them to get higher access rates for girls at school.

The Chinese Confucianist ideologies are hinged on fidelity and loyalty. The fidelity principle teaches that love to the family is the most important relationship and by being loyal to the state brings joy to the family (Wai-ming 1999). Therefore, the schooling of children was enforced by law. Obeying the loyalty principle produced achieved high levels of access for students to universal education for the primary age group and the development of adult literacy. This resulted in China being more successful than India. Rao et. al (2003) revealed that in China in 1949 only 25% of the children were enrolled in school but by 1957 there was 61.7% which was more than 100% increase in enrolment in eight years. However Mhehta (2001) as cited in Rao et. al (2003) stated that in India during the 1998-1999 there was still 33.06 million children who were not enrolled in school and were between the age group required to be in school.

The formation of new primary schools was the only strategy used by India from the first five year plan. This was inaugurated in 1951. Building new schools was inadequate in addressing the problem of low enrolment and retention of those who attended school. Unlike China, India emphasised the development of Higher Education. Policy makers in India did not consider that acquiring higher education requires an individual having some form of foundation learning; and primary schooling plays a vital role (Rao et al 2006). Therefore, it is deduced that the governmental policies of India were not successful in providing education for the minorities, mainly women, especially those who were of the scheduled and tribal castes.

Decentralisation vs. Centralisation

Immediately after China became a socialist state the government introduced a highly centralised system but still gave citizens some autonomy in their villages. Therefore the economic and social needs of the population were met more effectively. For example under the regime of Chairman Mao local peasants were able to establish local "miniban" schools. These schools were run by the locals. This was beneficial to the local peasants mainly because they could schedule classes when it was the busy farming season, have their children to work after they complete their studies, selection of teachers they wanted and elimination of the cost of sending their children out of the village to school (Pepper 1996). Therefore this aided in reducing poverty and illiteracy in China.

In India the government formed cooperatives. These cooperatives did not do anything to reduce poverty or illiteracy. It was another method that the prevailing castes used to marginalise the scheduled and tribal caste. Since then the government has implemented policies to minimise the inequality that exists in that society (Rao et al 2003).

It is evident that the government of China gave power to the powerless which was beneficial as opposed to the Indian government who gave power to the oppressors which was unbeneficial. This is also an example of a developmental states' function. It may be concluded that poor females in China were given more opportunity to access some form of schooling through the "miniban" schools as opposed to the ones in India.

School Conditions, Infrastructure and Curriculum

Rao et al. (2006) stated that schools in rural China had more resources and better infrastructure than the ones in India and furthermore the Indian curriculum was scrutinised since their independence. In 1962 the National Council for Women's Education established a committee to address how to close the existing gender gap in education, and the development of a curriculum that would suit the needs of each gender. The committee refused to develop a curriculum which was suited for a specific gender since it would enforce more inequality. Indian statistics showed that only 13 % of the female population were literate while 22% more of the male population were. (Mazumdar 1996). This view soon changed about changing the curriculum. According to Kalia (1980) in 1965 the government of India sought to formulate a suitable curriculum that was unbiased to both sexes. Based on research conducted by Kalia, it was revealed that of the 41 books (written in both Hindi and English) analysed by her that was used in four Indian States, made the man have the more dominant role 75% of the time and the woman only 7% of the time. Furthermore, she found only seven biographical sketches of women but forty-seven men. As, such it was clear that the books used at school were preparing girls to fulfil their expected role as subservient and house slaves for family members.

The religious views, mainly amongst the Muslims in the Indian society tend to separate both sexes. Due to the fact that this was not taken into consideration by the government some female students were not allowed to access school. Some parents were also concerned with the physical facilities at the school, e.g walls, latrines (Khan 1993). Dr. Still in her lecturer also stated that scheduled and tribal caste children were not permitted to enter the classroom with other children, and if they were special facilities had to be in place e.g. someone to pour water for them.

One Child Policy vs. Compulsory Sterilisation

As previously mentioned the two most populated countries in the world are India and China. Therefore in order to address this problem, China has introduced a policy called the "one child policy". The government has used this policy as a developmental tool to improve the economical, societal and environmental problems in China. According to BBC News- Asia aired on the 25th September, 2000, this policy has reduced the population by 250 million since its introduction.

Although the Indian government has seen the population increasing rapidly the implemented strategies were unsuccessful. The government had introduced sterilisation for females. In the 1976 the government of India passed a law called the "compulsory sterilisation law." This was not introduced in all states. Prior to this couples would choose contraceptive methods of their choice, and sterilisation was used extensively. This law was imposed on couples who had more than two children (Nair 1974). Gandhi enforced this type of family planning. (Basu 1985). During this period there was some reduction in population growth. However, when the political party changed the coercive approach was eliminated and the population rate continued to grow at a rapid rate. In India presently there is no regulation on the amount of children a family must have.

A reduction in birth rates in countries can reduce poverty and enhances the development of a better health care programme. It is suggested that a parent with one child is more likely to send their child to school as opposed to the parent with many children. Furthermore in India, Desai (1996) stated despite government policies where implemented for children to attend primary school a large number of scheduled caste and tribal caste girls were not attending school. The major reason for this was that they were expected to stay at home and take care of their younger siblings. Therefore, if a child did not have a sibling this would eliminate an excuse for why parents in India do not send their daughters to school.


In this section I will discuss the difference of access to school in India and China based on culture. These headings include Education Females, Value of Education and Caste System.

Educating Females

Although India's and China's culture is different, parents who reside in the rural areas in both countries generally perceive it more viable to educate their sons. There are different societal factors which must be taking into account. UNICEF (1999) as noted in Rao et. al (2006) revealed that they approximate that of the population in China between the ages of 7 and 11 years old, 2.5 million of them are not enrolled in school. However, 75% of them are thought to be female students. The main cause for this is a lack of funds to pay the fees and send their children to school.

However, in India it is more complex. Generally the customs of the society dictates that parents of female children have to present the groom's family with a dowry when they get married. As such, parents are faced with two challenges. Firstly saving enough finances to provide an adequate dowry and secondly if they allow their daughters to become educated, she might marry someone who is educated and therefore they will have to find a larger dowry. As a result, China was more successful than India in having higher enrolment higher rates of female students. Dropouts from school have been problematic in both countries; however China has been more effective at dealing with this problem (Rao et al. 2003).

Value of Education

Chinese and Indian citizens do not value education the same way. In India in the 19th century the view of society was to educate a female was equivalent to "putting a knife in her hands since if a female is educated she would be destined to widowhood" (Desai 1996:23). The woman's' place was viewed as in the home. This view was so deeply indoctrinated that the first commission to address the educating of the female population in India made it clear that the main goal for educating the females was to ensure that they were better prepared to fulfil their roles as mother and wife in the household. Therefore the ideology of a female being educated to contribute economically to their household, and society at large was not recognised (Mazumdar 1996).

A study conducted by Cheng in 1999 in Rao et.al (2003) revealed that when parents in China were asked to offer a reason for sending their children to school 47% were unable to provide an explanation; they believed that sending your child is wise, and therefore felt it unnecessary to offer a reason. The parents who did provide answers indicated that they had aspirations for their children to attend university. However 80% of the parents indicated that the only prospect they had for primary schooling was merely academic. They viewed it as a preparation for the country's civil exam and this success in the exam will be the foundation for higher education. Furthermore parents who resided in rural areas stated that if their child became more educated they would be more likely to find employment in urban areas. This high value of education is also seen in the schools. Teachers feel obligated to encourage students who have dropped out of school to return. (Rao et al. 2003).

In contrast, Indians generally tend to view education differently. These views are based on a family's caste and class. Desai (1996) stated that although the government has made many attempts for females to access school some females were still deprived form? the privilege. Many Tribal and Scheduled caste girls never have the opportunity to attend school because of their parents believe that it is more beneficial for them to stay at home doing chores. Furthermore these parents generally rejected the value of educating their daughters. In research conducted by Desai, she asked a mother of an untouchable caste the reason why she deprived her daughter from accessing school? The mother replied "Why should I waste my time and money on sending my daughter to school where she will learn nothing of use? What does the Hindu alphabet mean to hear? Too much schooling will only give girls big ideas and then they will be beaten up by their husbands or abused by their in-laws" (Desai 1996:26).

However research conducted in India in 1999 revealed that 87% of the parents in four states were willing to educate their sons because they wanted their possibility of gaining employment that is highly paid to increase. Only 40% of the parents indicated that it was necessary to educate their daughters. This, view only held if education would result in sure employment for their daughters (Rao et.al 2003).

It is obvious that even though Chinese and Indian parents both view males should be educated over females, Chinese still have a higher value on education. Based on this high value girls will have a higher possibility to access school more than their counterparts in India. As mentioned above in the above studies it suggested that education is only meaningful to Indian parents when employment is attached; while the Chinese parents looked beyond primary school towards university education.

Caste System

The Caste system found in India is said to have existed even before the British Empire and it still continues to exist. This system separates the population into different castes and oppresses the lower castes (scheduled and the tribal). Therefore women who were in the lowest caste not only faced discrimination because of their sex but also because of the caste in which they were born. It is also evident that the government made attempts to make the country more egalitarian through the 46th article of the constitution. This article was to ensure that the education and economic security of the underprivileged caste and other weaker sections of the society were protected and supported. However, the constitution did not begin to function until 1950 (Shamara & Shamara 1996).

According to the lecturer by Dr. Still, to minimise this high level of oppression that still existed in the society the government has established reservations. However in order to qualify for these reservations you must be of Hindu faith and a member of scheduled caste. Preference is also given to the Muslims. This further oppresses persons who have converted from Hinduism to Christianity.

China's belief in Confucianism that has shaped the society is less complex. Bell (2008) stated that poorer individuals in society are given the opportunity to achieve if they are successful in school because it teaches meritocracy. Therefore this system teaches that if an individual wants to break the cycle of poverty they can through social mobility. Social mobility comes through education. And hence, based on this reason China has made provisions for higher access for female students.

It maybe deduced that the Indians' belief in Hinduism which embraces the caste system has been detrimental to the society since it may and have acted as a negative factor for national development. Hence, girls in China were more likely to access schools more than their counterpart in India.

Summary of Present Effects of Development

It is evident that China has developed faster than India; however this development has led to some inequity in the country. Dollar (2007) noted that for the past 25 years China's economy has grown the fastest in the world. This development has yielded an extraordinary enhancement in per capita income and reduction in deprivation. However inequities which have arisen between the levels of wages, driven by the rural-urban wages differences coupled with extremely educated citizens has led to growing disparity between highly educated metropolitan experts and the proletarian class. This has also led to disparity in health and education results. Furthermore, limitations on rural-urban relocation have limited prospects for the rural destitute.

India has also had some success from development especially from the aid of the UNDP. The UNDP (2008) stated that to date they had assisted over 100,000 deprived women to form self-help groups, associations and forming companies. Furthermore, support has been given to civic governments in 13 towns, to plan strategies to reduce deprivation. Many tribal and scheduled caste women who never use to leave their areas are going to the bank to save. Through the assistance of the UNDP there has been a national attack on deprivation (UNDP 2008).


The cases of China and India make it quite clear that because two nations are formed around the same time that development will not necessarily take place at the same time. There are a lot of other factors that affect the level of development. In India women have not played an extensive role in all of the states in the country equally. If women are make up such a large part of the population it is imperative that they participate in the development of a country. However, the reasons why they did not participate in the development of the country are confounded to political and cultural issues.

The government has to find policies which they can implement that they will be able to monitor and ensure that the citizens are abiding by these laws. One such law could be to make a stipulation where all children have to go to school in their local area. This will be one measure which has reduced the caste system in India. Furthermore, the Governments' interest in higher education in the initial stages has not really aided in their effort for universal education. However, if the government insists that universal education school is mandatory for primary school, they need to have policies in place that will ensure parents send their daughters to school or face harsh penalties. Notwithstanding the fact that the policies which were put into place like Operation Black Board, and School meals, school uniforms, etc, were not good incentives, but blackboards in a classroom with a class almost empty is not purposeful.

However, one should note that even though China's development has been more successful over India's they are still some negatives that have evolved out of China's development and positives out of India. Therefore, this incident ought to make individuals aware that not all the time development yields favourable outcomes for everyone.


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