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Sen. Wolfenson


May 23, 1999

Nirmala of The Hindu interviewed Wolfenson and wrote a half page article saying,

  • the gap between the rich and poor is widening.
  • Bank is taking a new view.

There are two views:

  1. Looking at larger issues of the society from the establishment's point of view. It belongs to the dead past.
  2. Look at the real issues, have some real thoughts, develop real strategies, see how far the media can appreciate it.

Some assume that

  • Aid is of value, aid has a real place in the scheme of things.
  • How best Bank can change its view to make aid effective.
  • Aid has done substantial good already.
  • Aid has to be supported by social efforts and awareness.

Where does society stand?

  • Society views aid as a source of money, not help and appropriates it according to its values.
  • Mainly aid has created the reaction of inferiority complex, activated corrupt people to steal more money.
  • The good aid has done is minimal but essential.
  • Nirmala sees the adverse effects of globalisation as she responds from the inferiority complex of a receiver.
  • The Finland meet voices the cry of the poor. It is unformed reaction.
  • The issue for the Bank is how best the aid given will reach the end user. Is there a better way of giving the aid, if at all it is to be continued?
  • Bank was not permitted to use the word corruption till now.
  • Sen's wish for a corruption free govt will not materialise in the coming decades.
  • We have to see corruption as a reality.
  • Aid money should not go into the hands of the corrupt.
  • Can aid be used to create social awareness?

My view of how aid can be better used at present:

  • Basically, the Bank should stimulate the society where it is already awakened.
  • It can try to awaken the society in areas where it is not.
  • Suppose the govts have already established schools, roads,  training institutions, now the bank comes forward to reimburse their costs, no money will go into corrupt hands. It can be restricted to 1. New and excellent institutions only.
  • It will also stimulate the govts. to accomplish in these lines more.
  • Bank can also finance shining private efforts along these lines.
  • Corruption cannot be totally bypassed, but can be minimised.
  • For example, a host of products have acted as instruments of awakening the society and raising their expectations. Bank can come forward to support their researches. They are innumerable.
  • In India, in the last 30 years, thousands of educational institutions have come into existence and raised the prestige of education.
  • Industrial, educational, commercial institutions have been at the bottom of social awakening in India.
  • Wolfensohn says raising the effectivity of the bank from 60% to 80% is equivalent to millions of dollars. The above attempt will raise that effectivity 600%.
  • He says it is not quantifiable but he can measure it by a smile of the child. You have seen such a change in India.

The basic questions are:

  1. World Bank's aid, US Aid are powerful irritants in abolishing poverty. Sooner they are removed the better.
  2. Society awakens by itself, not by other agencies as we see now.
  3. These agencies whether of education or industry are awakened by the awakening society not the other way about.
  4. Corruption just now is an instrument of development. Still, it can be administratively bypassed. Corruption has a genius to grow when you have effectively bypassed it.

story | by Dr. Radut