Home Conservation Reviews Book Reviews The World Bank In India – Undermining Sovereignty, Distorting Development: Independent People's Tribunal On The World Bank In India


The World Bank In India – Undermining Sovereignty, Distorting Development: Independent People's Tribunal On The World Bank In India

February 2011: A compilation of home truths about one of the most dangerous financial institutions in the world, which has been responsible for hastening both biodiversity loss and climate change, this book is an indictment of the social and environmental impacts of the World Bank’s lending.


A very key revelation through the book is the fact that: “For too many years India has been a net provider of funds to the World Bank: the flow of money between the World Bank and India is in favour of the World Bank.” So much for the Bank’s much-touted public purpose.


Chapters are very organised and presented in sections:  1. The World Bank’s Role and Functioning. 2. Poverty and Employment. 3. Undermining India’s Sovereignty and Democratic Processes. 4. India’s Agrarian and Food Security Crisis. 5. Corporate Green and Common Goods. 6. Land Grabs and Displacement Struggles. 7. The World Bank and the Environment. Conclusions: findings of the jury.


In the introduction Kelly puts things in perspective when she states that: “The World Bank plays an important role in the dominance of neo-liberal economic theory in today’s policy, media and academic circles. While certainly not the only player, it is part of a formidable nexus, which for nearly three decades has drowned out alternative viewpoints and forced through a major overhaul of the way in which we view society, the state and ourselves.”


Writing about the Bank, she could just as easily be speaking about Dr. Manmohan Singh or Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, two of the World Bank’s most loyal devotees, when she goes on to state that: “Advocates of neo-liberal economics speak about trickle-down-benefits and the rising tide. The idea is: ‘Let’s have growth now and worry about distribution later’.”


In light of such ambitions: The key findings of the Tribunal were telling: 1. The World Bank has not reduced poverty in India. 2. World Bank policies have increased hunger in India. 3. World Bank-led development has not improved employment levels in India. 4. World Bank power sector reform projects have failed. 5. The World Bank has undermined the primary education system in India. 6. World Bank health care programmes have failed the poor in India. 7. World Bank urban development programmes benefit developers at the cost of the urban poor and are detrimental to the environment. 8. World Bank coal mining projects have caused grave and ongoing harm to India’s tribal communities. 9. The World Bank’s Carbon Trading approach creates a subsidised private market out of greenhouse gas emissions, which in practice, is doing nothing to reduce them. 10. The World Bank creates biased knowledge to promote pre-determined economic policies.


And thereby hangs a tale!


Edited by Michele Kelly, a New York-based political organiser, and Deepika D’Souza, Executive Director, Human Rights Law Network
Published by Orient Blackswan Private Limited,
Hard cover, 507 black and white pages,
Price: not mentioned.


Reviewed by Bittu Sahgal


For more on World Bank policies that have impacted India’s wild areas click here.


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