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Independent People’s Tribunal Charges the World Bank of Human Rights Abuse and Environmental Damage in India

Posted by Ramoo on September 25, 2008

World Bank Tribunal Jury Findings

A thirteen member panel consisting of prominent Indian and international jurists, economists, scientists, retied government officials, and social and religious leaders have found the World Bank guilty of harming the environment and lowering the standard of living for most Indians.

From 21 – 24 September 2007, the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus was the venue for an Independent People’s Tribunal on the World Bank Group in India. It was the first time a broad spectrum of Indian society has come together to look at the damage caused by the World Bank to the country as a whole. Affected communities, expert witnesses, and over 40 concerned groups presented testimonies in order to evaluate the impact of the World Bank across 26 sectors of social and economic development in India.  After reviewing over a thousand pages of transcripts the jury has put together an extensive and substantiated list of twenty-nine specific charges against the Bank. These findings are of critical importance in light of the pace in which current development policies are changing the country.

Charges in the final report include: failure in its mission to reduce poverty, advocacy of policies which contribute to increased hunger, contributing to the agricultural crisis, and deliberate posting of former staff in the Indian bureaucracy in order to influence policy and diluting Indian environmental legislation.

“The evidence and depositions we have witnessed presents a disturbing and shocking picture of increased and needless human suffering since 1991 among hundreds of millions of India’s poorest and most disadvantaged in rural areas and in the cities. It is clear to us that a significant number of Indian government policies and projects financed and influenced by the World Bank have contributed directly and/or indirectly to this increased impoverishment and suffering. All this has taken place while a minority of India’s population that constitutes the middle class and rich has enjoyed the fruits of an economic boom…… India and the international community must join to hold the World Bank accountable for policies and projects that in practice directly contradict its mandate of alleviating poverty for the poorest.”

– Preliminary Findings by the Jury of the Independent People’s Tribunal on the World Bank Group in India

We hope that such a strong statement from this distinguished group will contribute significantly to the debate on the legitimacy of the Bank’s operations in the country and as an institution. On the occasion of its anniversary we are happy to send you the final jury findings of the Tribunal.

The impact of this Tribunal has already been significant. The Tribunal process quickly inspired similar processes in The Hague, Netherlands and in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Copies of this report have been sent to the World Bank, Members of Parliament, relevant government ministries and the newly formed US Congressional Committee on the World Bank. To ensure that these findings generate much needed debate we need your active support.

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India down as World Bank ups its poverty threshold

Posted by Ramoo on August 30, 2008

ENS Economic Bureau Posted online:

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The number swelled to 456 million in 2005 from 420 million in 1981

NEW DELHI, AUGUST 26: Compared with 1981, 36 million more Indians are

now living below the poverty line, according to the new poverty

estimate released by the World Bank. Based on new data and higher

costs of living across the world, the World Bank has revised its

threshold of poverty to less than $1.25 a day, up from the previous

measure of one dollar a day. And this redefinition paints a sorry

picture of the poverty scenario for Indian policymakers in particular.

As per the new definition, the number of po

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or in India swelled to

almost 456 million people in 2005, up from 420 million in 1981. In

relative terms, however, the percentage of Indian poor has declined

from 60 per cent in 1981 to 42 per cent in 2005.

There is, however, a significant mismatch between the Indian

government’s official poverty estimates in 2004-05, which were to the

tune of 301.72 million people or 27.5 per cent of the total

population. However, unlike the World Bank figures, India’s official

estimate is based on the average calorie intake per day as opposed to

average daily wages. Speaking to The Indian Express, Pronab Sen, chief

statistician of India, said, “We don’t accept the World Bank estimate

of poverty since it is based on a single-figure formula, which is not

suited to the Indian situation. It doesn’t take into account the price

differentials between urban and rural areas or even between different

states.” The World Bank says its redefinition of the poverty line is

not arbitrary. It is the average poverty line found in the poorest

10-20 countries, it says. In the global context, the total number of

people living on less than $1.25 a day is 1.4 billion or roughly 26

per cent of the world population.


WHILE THE number of poor according to the new definition has grown,

that of people living on less than a dollar a day has declined to

266.5 mn (24%) in 2005 from 296 mn (42%) in 1981

THIS MEANS the number of people just above this line is still very

high and it is not falling

THOUGH A high growth has helped alleviate poverty, the Bank also

highlighted the importance of making growth more inclusive

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