The World Bank as “Knowledge Bank” is Fast Depleting

There was a time when the World Bank was seen as the world policy Think Tank for its research quality, recommendations, ground research work and reliability and relevance of economic and social data. Now, it has become the West's Investment Bank!

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Since its origins, the World Bank redefined the concept of money lending, and even that of survival. As similar international institutions emerged, the World Bank survived to remain among the most important institutions because it distinctively established itself as not only a global central bank, but it also defined its role as the centre for “production, accumulation, circulation and functioning” of knowledge.

But the institution is fast losing its credibility. Its reports, findings and analyses are no longer attractive, reliable and comprehensive. A recent report titled ‘Social Protection for a Changing India’ released by World Bank is a case in point. The report was launched in New Delhi on May 18, 2011 in front of over 30 journalists and had nothing credible to present. Firstly, when its chief economist John D. Blomquist was asked about the source of inspiration for the project, his reply was the Planning Commission asked them to do it. The contributors had no idea when the report was first outlined! Surprisingly, data used in the report was old, outdated and badly presented. In volume 1, pages 13-20 have been trussed up non-sequentially. Empty spaces exist where graphs perhaps should have been. Data of “share of PDS grain in consumption quantile” is as old as 2004/05. Similarly, data on PDS grain leakage is as old as 2000.

The only reason countries still entertain World Bank’s reports is ostensibly because it is still a huge lender. For example, it approved two big loans to India – $975 million for Eastern dedicated Freight Corridor project and a whopping $1 billion to clean the Ganga. And we’ve not even talked about Kahn…