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Comparison of the Development Levels of India and China
Development can be measured in purely economic or social terms, or as a combination, e.g. human development index (HDI). Currently, China dominates in absolute economic terms, being the only country with a gross national product (GNP) greater than that of the USA, of around $17 trillion. However, for gross domestic product (GDP) per capita (PPP), China is ranked 84th, only slightly higher than India.
It could be argued that both China and India have similar human development levels; whilst China continues to run a one-party system, meaning the government is not accountable to the public, leading to exploitation and censorship, the government is making progress in reducing poverty, partly by extending its welfare scheme to the rural west.
Conversely, India is a democracy, indicating greater influence from the majority of the population, yet millions of people live in poverty, slums, such as Dharavi, frequently grow out of control near financial centres (e.g. Mumbai), and over half of the 1.2 billion population refuses to use a toilet.
600 million Chinese people live under water stress. Both countries have relatively low social development levels, with the exception of regions such as Beijing and parts of Kerala; however, they both have huge economic potential, which has already begun to drive social progress, albeit via different methods.
India has increased its average life expectancy from 32 to 66 since it gained independence in 1947, whilst China's economic reforms in 1978 provoked widespread economic prosperity, following an increase in foreign direct investment (FDI).