World Bank President Jim Yong Kim will be on a three-day visit to India starting March 11 to see firsthand some of the development challenges that the country is faced with and look at the opportunities that can be exploited to help it in achieving faster economic growth along with a quicker reduction in poverty.

This will be Mr Kim’s first visit to India after taking over as President of the World Bank Group last July.

While in India during March 11-13, the World Bank President will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P. Chidambaram as also representatives of the private sector and civil society to discuss India’s major initiatives aimed at fostering equitable growth.

During his visit, according to a World Bank statement here, Mr. Kim will also visit Lucknow and Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh and meet State Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and see the development challenges of the state, which is home to the largest number of the country’s poor. As per his itinerary, Mr. Kim will visit a village in the state to gain insights into the realities of rural life that might compel migration to towns and cities. Thereafter, he will visit Kanpur to experience first-hand the challenges in managing increasing urbanisation.

Quoting Mr. Kim on what he expects from his India visit, the statement said: “India has vast and valuable development experience, and I am eager to learn about its success stories to see how they could provide lessons for other countries…I also look forward to the opportunity to find out what the World Bank Group can do to work with India in ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity throughout the country”.

Incidentally, the World Bank President’s visit to India is at a time when the country is rapidly urbanising, with 10 million Indians moving each year into towns and cities from the rural hinterland. “India's historic transformation provides a great opportunity to lift millions out of poverty, but it also poses enormous challenges in providing jobs, housing and basic services to people,” Mr. Kim said.

Mr. Kim went on to add that a quarter of urban India already lives in slums, with limited access to clean drinking water, proper sanitation, electricity or public transportation. “I am here to see how the World Bank Group can support India as it strives to turn its urban centres into clean, liveable cities for its people,” he said.

India, according to the statement, is the largest client of the World Bank Group. Between 2009 and 2013, it lent around $ 25.5 billion to India, including $ 12 billion from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), $ 8.3 billion from the International Development Association (IDA) and a further $ 5.2 billion in investments from the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

As of January 2013, the total IBRD and IDA net commitments stood at $ 23.1 billion (IBRD $13.2 billion, IDA $9.9 billion) across 77 projects. At the end of January 2013, IFC’s portfolio contained 219 projects, amounting to committed and disbursed exposure of $4.1 billion.

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