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JMI organises Online Lecture by Dr. Selina Ho on “Thirsty Cities

JMI organises Online Lecture by Dr. Selina Ho on “Thirsty Cities 1

The UGC China Studies Centre, MMAJ Academy of International Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia(JMI) organised a lecture on the topic “Thirsty Cities: Social Contracts and Public Goods Provision in China and India” on the 3rd February 2021. The lecture was delivered by eminent China scholar, Dr. Selina Ho, Assistant Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore.The session was chaired by the Officiating Director, Academy of International Studies, Professor Ajay Darshan Behera. Prof. Behera welcomed the speaker throwing light on the importance of the theme and the comparative study between India and China.Dr. Selina introduced the subject by pointing out to the divergence among states in producing public goods and the underlying reason behind why some countries produce more public goods than others. In the background of the fact that democracies are expected to produce more public goods given their answerability to the society especially before the conduct of elections in order to maximise their chances of getting re-elected. However, this is not the only factor impacting the creation of better public goods. Higher levels of economic development are another factor that allows governments to produce higher amount of public goods. However, under this situation, the wealth can also be concentrated in the hands of a few and the powerful due to high rates in inequality and lack of redistribution. Therefore, this might come in the way of public goods provision for all.In her lecture, Dr. Selina put forward the argument that in the case of India and China, the capacity of the Chinese state to provide better public goods is not solely owing to the better economic development and higher state capacity of China and has nothing to do with regime type. Instead, she attributes this to the state-society relations in China and the social contracts system there. In support of this argument, the speaker presented the evidence from the human development index of UNDP in terms of education and health. In the case ofChina, she traced and drew a connection between the idea of “mandate of heaven” in imperial China where the king was supposed to provide the material goods for the well being of the people and also be morally upright to retain his position as the ruler. Therefore, both material and normative performance of the leader was important in terms of running the state. This fact is also reflected in current day China where the anti-corruption drive of the Chinese state forms an important policy initiative of the state in the course of the service to the people. She underlined the importance of the local governments in China to ensure the provision of public goods given their power and autonomy to exercise such rights.Dr. Selina through her case studies of Shenzhen and Beijing in China and Delhi and Hyderabad in India beautifully drew the comparison between the social contract system of China and India.The lecture ended on a positive note where Dr. Selina mentioned that she wishes her research could provide an effective platform from which scholars and academicians could derive food for thought and ideas for newer research.The lecture was attended by a wide pool of participants from India and abroad and was followed by a vivid question and answer session.Ms. Saheli Chattaraj, Assistant Professor, China Studies presented the vote of thanks expressing her utmost appreciation towards the speaker for deliberating on such a key theme for developing countries.

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