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Human development programmes -- IBRD keen on bringing best practices to India

G. Srinivasan


Mr Jozef Ritzen, Vice-President, Human Development Network, World Bank.

NEW DELHI, March 1

THE World Bank is keen on bringing into India best practices in human development projects, particularly in education and health sectors, through its ongoing active programmes in these sectors.

In an interview to Business Line here, the World Bank's Vice-President, Human Development Network, Mr Jozef Ritzen, said that since 1994, the Bank has more than a dozen active portfolios in health, nutrition and population (HNP) projects in India where it has extended credit to the tune of $2.6 billion. These include programmes of tuberculosis and malaria control, immunization strengthening, integrated child development scheme (ICDS) and blindness-control. In the field of education, the Bank lending to India over the past few years amounted to $1.3 billion, he said.

He said on the education front, the Bank has been focussing on primary education and the District Primary Education Programme

(DPEP) of India was so unique that as a Dutch Minister he had spoken about the DPEP in Dutch Parliament as one "which even developed countries could learn" as the community is closely involved in the development of curriculum.

He said by and large education programmes being funded by the Bank had been progressing satisfactorily but it is also true in some places it is not so, as in the case of Bihar. "This also leads to the question about how to design programmes and projects in Bihar," he said.

Mr Ritzen said that at the moment there is a "kind of standstill" on the education front in India and particularly in the area of secondary and higher education and science and technology, the Government is not clear in terms of finance requirements for the projects. He said that no country had ever achieved universal primary education by setting aside only 1.7 per cent of GDP for education including primary education.

He said that as India is going to expand secondary education rapidly in the coming years, the World Bank's experience in client countries programme would be crucial for India so that it "can engage in quality comparisons to generate the platform for doing things better." The quality parameters include more autonomy to schools and hospitals and accountability so that the end-result is positive to the community at large whose support is roped in and sustained over the years, he added.

Asked how much India might get by way of Bank support, he said that on an average human development programmes in India might get $1 billion a year in the next 10 years if the existing programmes are integrated both in health and in education so that the benefits flow to a greater number of people.

Mr Ritzen said that the increased importance to social sector development by the Bank is not a recent phenomenon as the World Bank still has a mixture of portfolios in which infrastructure assistance also plays a major role. Probably, major areas could be through additional works and additional lending and may be grants in the human development programmes, he added.

He said India could do much better in human development arena, particularly in primary and secondary education, and also in health because countries with less per capita income have been able to achieve much better because human development is central to progress in economic growth and also in poverty reduction. He said total spending on health services is one per cent of GDP and India has low development along with increasingly large problems of dealing with developed parts - obesity and malnutrition or under-nutrition coexist in India.

Mr Ritzen cautioned that India could not achieve the UN target of Millennial Development Goals with business-as-usual approach. He said during his visit to India he has met the Chief Ministers of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, besides senior officials of the Union Government in the Ministry of Human Resources Development.

To a query as to any evaluation of the Bank-financed programmes is made, Mr Ritzen said that evaluation of the projects funded by the Bank is being done against relevance of the project, quality of the project designed and whether it has brought the desired outcome to the people targeted.

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Human development programmes -- IBRD keen on bringing best practices to India


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