Hamish McRae reports on the latest UNCTAD report on Least Developed Countries published yesterday. The report calls for rebooting development. One of the elements of rebooting is moving from good governance to good development governance. The idea being that China and India may not do brilliantly on Western concepts of governance, but they get development going--they have cracked "good development governance" and the rest of us have a lot to learn from them.
I agree with much of this, but with a few big exceptions. First, India is not exactly a good example of "good development governance". It is, I suppose if you define development as GDP per capita growth. In this case India is an economic superstar. But in terms of a more people centered development outcome--malnutrition--India is a weakling. Malnutrition rates have hardly moved in the past 15 years and the country continues to have malnutrition rates twice that of many African countries. See the IDS homepage (www.ids.ac.uk) for a new report on India's failure to "Lift the Curse" of Malnutrition and what it needs to do to make faster progress in this area.
Second, China really seems to have cracked it. Not only have they posted astounding GDP numbers, but the poverty numbers have plummeted too. Inequality and sustainability questions remain, but development has much to learn from China--not all of it will be useful or appropriate, but much will be. However, learning is easier said than done. Our China in Development Group at IDS www.ids.ac.uk/go/browse-by-subject/china is working on bridging the often disparate worlds of China public policy and international development policy. Bridging is not easy because not many development specialists understand China public policy sufficiently well and China public policy experts have little incentive to engage with the international development world. As China becomes a bigger player in international development (it already is a big investor in Africa, it will become a bigger player in global governance and probably will become a major aid donor) this will change, but investments will need to be made to promote the kinds of knowledge systems the UNCTAD report is talking about.