The Book Release of “Reflective Shadows- Political Economy of World Bank Lending to India” authored by Mr. Nagesh Prabhu, Deputy Editor, The Hindu, Bengaluru and released by Ms Nirmala Sitharaman, Union Minister of State for Commerce & Industries (Independent Charge) was the mark of the day for the city and the State. The book is published by Oxford University Press, New Delhi. The toiling of mid night oil for almost a decade, researching and penning the happenings of almost seven decades of the sweet and sour relationship between India and the World Bank by a journalist of repute saw the light of the day by wake of this book.
Mr Sugata Ghosh, India Director, Oxford University Press, Prof RS Deshpande, Chairman of Center for Development Studies, PES University, Bengaluru, Dr BL Shankar, President, Karnataka Chitrakala Parishad, were amongst the dignitaries who graced the occasion.
The program started with invocation to the Almighty in Carnatic Music by school students. Mr Gabriel, former journalist from Economic Times introduced and welcomed the guests. Director Oxford University Press spoke about the activities including identifying this book.
The author detailed the chronological journey of the development from the inception of the World Bank, its relationship with India towards lending for the States and various poverty alleviation projects under different sectors; he also explained as to how the initial hand shaking took place with World Bank that his professional work gradually led to making of this book. The chief guest of the function Ms Nirmala Sitharaman appreciated the great writing of the book by Mr. Nagesh that gave an elevated view of the subject while incorporating the in depth analysis across the long time frame of more than seven decades. She specifically mentioned and motivated the journalists present to come forward and do such research for a better India which shall also aid to the right political decision making. She also gave her wisdom towards the possibility of cross examination of the project funding outcomes amongst different countries. Ms Nirmala Sitharaman also mentioned about the policies of the current government to be flexible in deploying resources by the States with minimum intervention of the Center. Dr Deshpande being the mentor and guide to the author elaborated on the relationship building to working as midwife to bring about such a novel piece of wisdom that will also give light to the students of this domain in the future.
Dr BL Shankar, lucidly welcomed the Chief Guest and all others on behalf of the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishad (KCP) while simultaneously extending his thanks to have received the privilege to show the activities of KCP to Ms Nirmala Sitharaman thereby putting a request to get the needed suitable support for KCP from the center. Dr Shankar informed that the change in the policy of KCP towards extending the infrastructure for the release of the books as they consider this act is also a part of art.
The book details the skepticism of the initial times to friendship now, of weathering many ups and downs, finally turning into symbiotic equation. The lending immediately after the Independence that played a vital role in mediating and settling the disputes on sharing the waters of the Indus river basin between India and Pakistan - the newly born country, establishment of Aid India Consortium of 1958, and the establishment of IDA towards channeling aid for India’s development. The book mentions about the cumulative borrowings of over 100 Billion Dollars from the inception till date, which works out to be only 3.3% of the total spending by the federal government on various projects, including loan amount of 0.2%.It is said, beggars are no choosers. Reasons of the happening of devaluation in 1966 are elaborated at length were owing to the pressures from the financing world bank to India and its masters at US to have liberalization of imports that could make India economic slaves of the capitalists across the globe; save the wisdom of the then Indian Polity, the country came out of the odds. There came a time, when during the regime of Indira Gandhi, the taking of the sanctioned loan was abandoned due to such pressures. However, in the later era, with the structural adjustments and liberal policies that were adopted by the World Bank in the recent times broke the proverbial growth rate of 3.5% to almost double digit figure.
Needless to mention, the country has grown to middle income country status owing to the financial supports of the World Bank for the various poverty alleviation projects. Due to this, India will have to now look forward to other sources of funds for its future projects and maybe, the World Bank attributes could go off.
It is said, if the service to the loan is lower than the benefit being accrued out of the loan, it is a better wisdom to opt for the same, lest, the loan takes slowly the shape of a monster eating up the loanee. Thankful that the sustained wisdom of the Indian polity that the finances through loans from World Bank have come out as the advantage to our Nation and its people.
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