Does water reveal how a country takes care of its citizens – China versus India

February 3, 2016

This post explores which country is doing a better job of supplying water to its people—China or India.  When you finish reading and watching the two videos, you decide which country you would rather live in if you had to make a choice between them.

Is freedom of expression and of religion more important than water—what would be your answer if you had to make a choice?

The choices of world religions are many. According to Religious, “There are 19 major world religions which are subdivided into a total of 270 large religious groups, and many smaller ones. 34,000 separate Christian groups have been identified in the world.”

One of the most common complains outside China is that its citizens do not have the abstract freedom of expression and all of those religions to choose from, because China only offers seven approved religions to choose from and freedom of public political expression is severely limited.

The National Geographic special issue, “Water, Our Thirsty World” (April 2007) compared the world’s largest democracy, India, with China. In “The Big Melt” by Brook Larmer, we see a convincing reason why China’s mix of socialism and capitalism may be the world’s answer to avoid future calamities. Where Western style democracies fail to act due to partisanship, special interests, religious beliefs and political agendas, China’s government, ruled by engineers and scientists, appears to be planning decades ahead.

The claims of Tibetan separatists—the 1% that lives in voluntary exile in India—and their supporters that China rules over Tibet with an iron fist also appears to be wrong when Larmer visits a family of Tibetan nomads. He writes, “There is no sign of human life on the 14,000 foot high prairie that seems to extend to the end of the world.” Larmer sees “the NOMADS’ tent as a pinprick of white against a canvas of brown.”

We meet Ba O, a Tibetan nomad. In Ba O’s tent, “there is a small Buddhist Shrine: a red prayer wheel and a couple of smudged Tibetan texts…” A few years earlier, Ba O had several hundred sheep and the grass was plentiful. Now the Tibetan nomad has about a hundred left and fears this way of life is ending.

Ba O says, “This is the way we’ve always done things. And we don’t want that to change.”

But no matter what Ba O wants, change is coming, and there is nothing he can do to stop it. The change is not from China’s government. It is coming from global warming. Because of drought, the Tibetan grasslands are dying and a way of life that has existed for thousands of years may be dying too.

To insure that the Tibetan nomads will have a place to live, China’s government has been building resettlement villages. The “solid built” houses are subsidized. When the Tibetan nomads can no longer survive on the open Tibetan prairie, it is the nomad’s choice to move into the new villages. The government does not force them to give up their old way of life. Nature does that.

Along with the house comes a small annual stipend for each family so they can eat as they find another way to earn a living. The home Larmer visited in one of these resettlement villages had a Buddhist shrine and a free satellite dish for a TV and maybe an Internet connection. In addition, the one child policy does not apply to the Tibetan people since they are a minority in China.

To make sure there will continue to be water to drink, China is planning to build 59 reservoirs in Tibet to capture and save glacial runoff.

In India, by comparison, the young wife of a fortuneteller spends hours each day searching for water. She lives with her husband and five children in Delhi, India‘s capital. There are fights over water. In a nearby slum, a teenage boy was beaten to death for cutting into a water line. The demand for water in Delhi exceeds the supply by more than 300 million gallons a day.

Here are a few other factors that reveal how a country treats its citizens.

China – Population 1.357 billion (2013) with one political party

  • 27.24% or 369.6 million live on less than $3.10 a day
  • illiteracy = 3.6% or 48.8 million
  • life expectancy = 75 today. It was 35 in 1949.
  • According to, “Progress in poverty reduction has been concentrated in Asia, and especially, East Asia, with the major improvement occurring in China.”
  • ranks China #27 on the bribe payers index.

The Bribe Payers Index ranks the world’s wealthiest and most economically influential countries according to the likelihood of their firms to bribe abroad, and the United States is ranked #10.

India – Population 1.252 billion (2013) with six national political parties and 49 state parties

  • 58.1% or 727.4 million live on less than $3.10 a day
  • illiteracy = 27.9% or 338 million
  • life expectancy = 66 today. It was 36 in 1949.
  • According to, “Over 7000 Indians die of hunger every day.”
  • list ranks India #19 on its bribe payers index.

Patrick Henry (1736 – 1799), one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, is credited with saying “Give me liberty, or give me death!”

What happens to the pursuit of life, liberty, freedom of expression—the right to publicly complain about the government but nothing changes anyway—and the exploration of spiritual beliefs when there isn’t enough food to eat or safe water to drink?


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

Where to Buy

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline