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136 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 2004
I listened to the wild speeches, which were just a cry for ‘bread! bread!’ and on my way home I pondered over the scene and I became more than ever convinced of the importance of imperialism … My cherished idea is a solution for the social problem, i.e., in order to save the 40,000,000 inhabitants of the United Kingdom from a bloody civil war, we colonial statesmen must acquire new lands to settle the surplus population, to provide new markets for the goods produced in the factories and mines. [Emphasis added]...Meanwhile, colonialism violently de-industrialized the Global South to feed Global North's capitalist industrialization, creating a much larger "reserve army" of labour in the South ("modern mass poverty", esp. in India/China/Southeast Asia). The migration option for the South's reserve army was restricted due to racism; the relatively-much-fewer who were allowed by immigration control had the status of "coolie" indentured labour to substitute slave labour in plantations/mines/railroad building.
In fact, it seems fairly clear that the Chinese growth rate was not radically higher than that of India before the economic reforms of 1979, by which time the tremendous surge ahead in health and longevity had already taken place. In the pre-reform period, agricultural expansion in particular was sluggish in China, as it was in India, and the dramatic reduction in hunger and undernourishment and expansion of life expectancy in China were not ushered in by any spectacular rise in rural incomes or of food availability per head. […]
This is indeed the crucial point. The Chinese level of average opulence judged in terms of GNP per head, or total consumption per capita, or food consumption per person, did not radically increase during the period in which China managed to take a gigantic step forward in matters of life and death, moving from a life expectancy at birth in the low 40s (like the poorest countries today) to one in the high 60s (getting within hitting distance of Europe and North America). [p.208]
As far as support-led security is concerned, the Chinese efforts have been quite spectacular. The network of health services introduced in post-revolutionary China in a radical departure from the past—involving cooperative medical systems, commune clinics, barefoot doctors, and widespread public health measures—has been remarkably extensive. The contrast with India in this respect is striking enough. It is not only that China has more than twice as many doctors and nearly three times as many nurses per unit of population as India has. But also these and other medical resources are distributed more evenly across the country (even between urban and rural areas), with greater popular access to them than India has been able to organize.
Similar contrasts hold in the distribution of food through public channels and rationing systems, which have had an extensive coverage in China (except in periods of economic and political chaos, as during the famine of 1958-61, on which more presently). In India public distribution of food to the people, when it exists, is confined to the urban sector (except in a few areas such as the state of Kerala where the rural population also benefits from it, on which, too, more presently). Food distribution is, in fact, a part of a far-reaching programme of social security that distinguishes China from India. The impact of these programmes on protecting and promoting entitlements to food and basic necessities, including medical care, is reflected in the relatively low mortality and morbidity rates in China. [p.209]
Finally, it is important to note that despite the gigantic size of excess mortality in the Chinese famine, the extra mortality in India from regular deprivation in normal times vastly overshadows the former. Comparing India's death rate of 12 per thousand with China's of 7 per thousand, and applying that difference to the Indian population of 781 million in 1986, we get an estimate of excess normal mortality in India of 3.9 million per year. This implies that every eight years or so more people die in India because of its higher regular death rate than died in China in the gigantic famine of 1958-61. India seems to manage to fill its cupboard with more skeletons every eight years than China put there in its years of shame. [p.214-215]...Note: furthermore, stellar radical political economist Utsa Patnaik disputes the famine death methodologies used on China's famine cited by the liberal authors, which I summarize in reviewing Hunger and Public Action.
Post her speech, a student, looking at Marxist books on sale outside the venue, summed up the evening: “Dude, I am a hardcore Capitalist. I don’t believe in dismantling capitalism. But what she was talking about is not Capitalism, it was crony Capitalism. And that’s a scourge.”