Skip to Content

World Bank/ GBWASP - a different conspiracy

up
55 users have liked.

There's always been a debate over whether the politician is the bigger problem, or the bureaucrat. I have always held that even bigger than the two, there's another formidable force - the Socialist (the psuedo variety - there are very few genuine ones remaining). And, the solutions to the countries problems lies in tackling him.

The following is the text of exchanges that took place over the CAF (Citizens Action Forum) googlegroup on the subject in the context of the GBWASP project, which remained a non-starter.

Opening comment by Mr VM:
When something is repeated over and over again and not disputed then it is perceived to be correct. So let me write on this oft repeated "so called conspiracy" by the World Bank on "poor developing countries", and how we are all too blind too see their "sinister" designs.

Elsewhere is this groups I have also been named as someone who would know the true inside story of GBWASP and how the World Bank and its so called agent (need I name??) threatened to loot our 'poor country" and state until the great socialists came to rescue us!! They were supposed to take over our resources, our water.

Conveniently, as the argument goes, this privatization/ take over of resources was an unwritten agenda, a behind the scenes conspiracy. So deep a conspiracy that the only ones who knew about it was this same anti World Bank lobby. So much easier to invent a conspiracy then really search for a real one!!

The point is all this kind of talk is rooted in some ancient view of the world of black and white, good and evil and also from the last bastions of those who have "anti-America" as the core minded agenda. Along with this "anti" stance is the anti capitalism, anti privatization stances.

The story simply is (since I am supposed to know about GBWASP) that the World Bank wanted in the project
a) Transparency; b)Accountability; c) Citizen participation. (Do these tenets seem familiar ?!!)

And yes sustainability. That means a system where the project is self-sustaining, not forever dependant on subsidies - free from political and bureaucratic milking. And, not eating into tax payer's money in perpetuit - a commercially feasible project. That's about it.

It is this objective (and yes the world bank does have sustainability and commercial viability as tenets) that was construed by this so-called citizen centric lobby to mean privatization of natural resources, an extremely emotional issue which requires only wild accusations for a project to grind to a halt.

And remember, this same lobby had an unforgiving hate for the "agent" who was responsible for the citizen participation part of the World Bank agenda.

And guess what ..the government did not refute the charges. It was in their interest to limit world bank influence and citizen participation for a mega project like this (good money was available for milking please !!)

And that's the short story of how the anti-America/ anti-privatization/ anti-World Bank lobby played into the hands of the bureaucracy and political class and destroyed something that could have been a watershed infrastructure project, with an inbuilt watch dog mechanism.

So in conclusion, the World Bank is not lily white and blameless. No one is. But this taken for granted stance that all things World Bank is a sinister conspiracy, and the tendency to promote this as an internal belief system in CAF, is the actual sinister conspiracy!!

The above was in response to the following comment made (a few weeks back) by a typically Socialist member:
Why does CAF need to understand World Bank? Its policies affect us all. Since, CAF advocates transparency and since quite a few of the Bank's agendas are normally unpalatable to many people, our governments (Center and State) keep tie-ups with the Bank shrouded in secrecy.

People of Bangalore would remember GBWASP – the Bank funded water supply project for us. The hidden agenda of "privatization" was never disclosed. Vijayan should know it all too well.

There is nothing that is being "continuously pushed as gospel truth". If anyone has facts to the contrary, they are welcome to air them.

The point is NOT whether privatization is good or bad. The point is, as in GBWASP, that it was sought to be done surreptitiously. There is now another such attempt coming.

World Bank has done a "lot of good work", says Vijayan. So has Madoff ! He was a well-known philanthropist who merely ran a ponzi scheme for several years. Vijayan is entitled to his views on the "good" work of World Bank.

May I request Vijayan and those who would like discuss the Bank and its policies, to first say, what they know about the Bank. When was it constituted and for what purpose? How is its President appointed? How are its policies formulated? What has been the impact of its policies on various countries? Why does India need/ take loans from the Bank?
What conditions are attached to these loans?

Why did the previous President of the Bank resign? Why did the President of India ask for a restructuring of the Bank two days back? Why are European governments up in arms against the Bank? Why is it that many in India are ignorant of these facts?

Why did the Bank insist on PWC to be the consultant to the Delhi Jal Board? Why did the Delhi High Court strike down this stipulation of the Bank?


I added:
Well said, Vijayan. There's always been a debate over whether the politician is the bigger problem, or the bureaucrat. I have always held that even bigger than the two, there's another formidable force - the Socialist (the psuedo variety - there are very few genuine ones remaining). And, the solutions to the countries problems lies in tackling him.


Mr TV added:
Thanks for enlightening the CAF group on world Bank. . “Free from political and bureaucratic milking”  Most Developed Institutions from Developed world are concerned about this aspect when they deal with India. They are not wrong.

World bank’s sanctions against Satyam and Wipro for wrong doings prove that it is not a shady Institution. Many talk about the conditions of World bank. A Bank when lends money does ask for 2 dozen or more compliances. So also the world bank. . I am not an expert on these matters but a keen observer.

The debate continues. Muralidhar Rao

Comments

zenrainman's picture

World bank,socialists,capitalists et al and water for Bengaluru

up
28 users have liked.
Can we ever get away from ideology bashing and name calling? Does it help in getting a certificate from Mr Muralidhar Rao of being a non-genuine or genuine socialist ? Is it wrong for me to believe in equity in society? Does it help if I call him a capitalist?Do the biggest of them not run to the government with bailout deals when the speculation runs out? Can we trust the private sector to supply water to the city when shareholder profit maximization is the buzz word on which it runs? Can we? I do not think so. As an observer of the water situation in Bangalore I'm afraid that belief in democracy also means I have to trust my politician and bureaucrat because he represents governance which I elect. My lack of faith in the World Bank and the private sector is actually my lack of faith in the instruments of my government whom I do not trust to decide wisely on my behalf. For what can the Bank do surreptitiously or not unless my government acquiesces? On the one hand is the intellectual hubris of the World Bank and its acolytes of the non-socialist variety. A supreme confidence in the Price Waterhouse and the Maytas's of the world to deliver. On the other the fear mongering and shrill rabble rousing of the anti privatization side without an iota of an idea as to how water will be delivered to the poor and to all in the city sustainably. Consider also this - the BWSSB is a World Bank creation as early as 2nd October 1964 - the average subsidy that an urban domestic consumer of water in Bangalore receives is close to Rs 649/ a MONTH - the poor pay Rs 1 to Rs 3 a pot of roughly 10 litres i.e. Rs 100/- to Rs 300/- a kilo-litre. I pay Rs 6/ per kilolitre for the first slab. - if the price of water is not raised to its true cost of production including losses (put at Rs 34.25 by Prof Sastry of ISEC) a begging bowl to the JBIC/World Bank would be inevitable as it is right now an then we would whine about conditionalities. Why create the begging syndrome in the first place? Why not raise monies internally by revising tariff? Why not pay Rs 34.25/a kilo-litre to the BWSSB/government so that the poor can get connections and water without any loans from anybody? - remember that the Cauvery water tribunal has allocated a ridiculously small volume of water to Bangalore. Where do we get the additional requirements of water from? By focusing on the rel issues and problems ideological shadow boxing can be avoided and let us hope that non-ideological sense prevails in this debate too
blrpraj's picture

the bigger problem

up
26 users have liked.
A problem bigger than the politician, beraucrat & socialist is we the people. With the right checks and balances in place a healthy level of socialism can in fact work in our favour. The socialism that was practiced in USSR or the license raj socialism that was practiced in India are a definite no no. Bottom line is public infrastructure projects have to be executed in a cost effective manner and confirm to standard specifications to ensure quality (which requires transparency and accountabillity) and such projects have to be awarded using tried and tested bidding processes. If these checks and balances are in place, the source of the loans can also be decided in a transparent manner hence answering some of the questions posed in the thread earlier. I am sure world bank is not the only source of loans..we can go look for better sources if we need to.
silkboard's picture

Bang on blrpraj

up
28 users have liked.
If anyone wants to help our city, best way to 'participate' is not by creating new NGOs or volunteering for abide and such. Not to belittle on-ground volunteers, but us being vigilant and tracking and monitoring, being observant and asking questions is all it will take to make our city's governance systems work well. That btw, is the core philosophy behind praja.in However, if we fail on our duty to be the 'check' in the system - which is the case today - then privatization may give better results.
murali772's picture

not just ideological shadow boxing

up
31 users have liked.

"On the other, the fear mongering and shrill rabble rousing of the anti privatization side without an iota of an idea as to how water will be delivered to the poor and to all in the city sustainably" - exactly, Zenrainman avare'. And, the ones indulging in such rhetoric from their bungalows in high-end gated communities and through Airtel's Blackberry are the ones I label as "pseudo-Socialists" (do you have a better definition for them?).

And, quite like VM has pointed out, the Neta/ babu lot latch on to these discordant notes amongst the members of the civil society, and revert to the status quo to continue to feather their own nests. So, my purpose is not just 'ideological shadow boxing', but to try and undo the damage being caused by these pseudos. And, the damages are not ordinary by any measure.

As for me, if you have ever read my blogs, you would have noticed that I am as much critical of Capitalism, particularly of the crony variety, as of Socialism. However, if you want to label me a Capitalist, it's your prerogative. I am very much for entreprenuership, and the liberal dictum that governments should limit themselves to just governance, and generally keep out of providing goods and services. They should facilitate and regulate these activities by the public, which will then qualify to be called the 'public sector' in its true sense.

Socialism is an ideal. But, it can only be preached; rarely practised.

But, there are a lot of people who think otherwise, and genuinely believe that BMTC, BWSSB etc can be reformed. Perhaps, they can be. There are some good examples. But, such models are generally individual-centric, and consequently rarely sustainable.

Real reforms can also perhaps happen somewhere along the Socialist route. But, like VM had pointed out, it will take upto his great grandson's time for the benefits to be realised.

As compared to that, there are simple and effective solutions to most of the problems - through competition from reputed private players over a level playing field, duly regulated by a properly constituted body. We have seen the immense changes that has brought about in fields such as telecom, banking, insurance, civil aviation, to name a few.

There's no reason why it can't succeed in power distribution, public bus transport services, etc. In fact, like I have been repeatedly saying, these are too vital infrastructure areas not to have the managerial and technical competence of reputed private players, and the entire economy (and, thereby the people) is paying a huge price for it all.

In the case of water supply also, like I have pointed out earlier also, you can have all the water you want if you go to the source – a river, lake, or wherever; but, for it to be made available at the turn of the tap in your home, you need power – to pump it, filter it, etc, etc. And, in Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Surat, Kolkatta, etc, this power has been provided by private players for years together, and most reliably too. When that’s the case, why can’t some meaningful arrangement be entered into with similar companies for water supply also? What is there to be so alarmist about it all? These companies will have as much of a stake as anybody else in the proper development of the city, very much as decided by the elected representatives, giving added meaning to the term ‘stake-holder’.

What is happening today on the contrary is that the government is funding the BWSSB to provide water for the extravagant requirements of the upper classes whereas the poorer lot is given a raw deal. More on that can be read at http://privatised-water-s.... Every kind of racket is thriving. The three government hospitals - Vani Vilas, Victoria and Bowring, are being charged an unconscionable Rs 25 to 35 lakhs each a month by the BWSSB, going by today's press reports - check
http://epaper.timesofindia.com/Repository/ml.asp?Ref=VE9JQkcvMjAwOS8wMS8yMSNBcjAwNTAx&Mode=HTML&Locale=english-skin-custom. On a comparison, a similar sized (400 bed) apartment complex like where I reside pays less than Rs 1 lakh a month, even when sourcing through tankers when necessary.

And, nobody is suggesting handing over total charge of the water sources to the private service providers, please! Whatever, there's only a limited quantity of water in Cauvery or the lakes. And, how much of it can be tapped and for what purpose has of course to be decided and monitored by the government. Efficient distribution and proper accountability is what can be achieved by involving the private players. Artificialities as you have pointed out, apart from the ones like in the case of the government hospitals, will then come out in the open, and these can be then be effectively corrected.   
 
Further, you have very correctly stated - "As an observer of the water situation in Bangalore I'm afraid that belief in democracy also means I have to trust my politician and bureaucrat because he represents governance which I elect. My lack of faith in the World Bank and the private sector is actually my lack of faith in the instruments of my government whom I do not trust to decide wisely on my behalf. For what can the Bank do surreptitiously or not unless my government acquiesces?" So, the problem is not as much the World Bank as the Politician and the Babu. And helping them along are our pseudos.

Do also check out: http://praja.in/bangalore/blog/murali772/2008/08/13/water-suppy-ppp.

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao

Praja.in comment guidelines

Posting Guidelines apply for comments as well. No foul language, hate mongering or personal attacks. If criticizing third person or an authority, you must be fact based, as constructive as possible, and use gentle words. Avoid going off-topic no matter how nice your comment is. Moderators reserve the right to either edit or simply delete comments that don't meet these guidelines. If you are nice enough to realize you violated the guidelines, please save Moderators some time by editing and fixing yourself. Thanks!



about seo | blog