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India an inspiration for poor nations: Wolfowitz

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Paul Wolfowitz
Paul Wolfowitz

"It is time for donors to step up aid in general"

Washington: Praising India for its success in undertaking development initiatives, World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz has said the country is an inspiration for poor countries in places like Africa.

``India is one of our biggest portfolios. It has been making wonderful progress in the last 15 years or so,'' Mr. Wolfowitz said at a round table for a select group of media persons ahead of the weekend Spring Meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

``It is a mixture of IBRD and IDA money and India is in one of these transition phases,'' he said, although admitting that the country has one of the largest number of poor anywhere in the world.

``The basic point that cannot be stressed enough is that we are seeing around the world development success that is inspiring people that didn't do better in the world before to do better in the future. I think the examples of China and India are beginning to resonate to Africa,'' he said.

``Inspirational''

Poor countries, the World Bank president argued, will never get to where countries like the United States, England, Germany or Japan are. ``But they look at countries where there is a lot of poor like India and see it can be done. It is inspirational,'' he said.

``We learn a lot from the Indian experience,'' Mr. Wolfowitz said, pointing to his own recent visit to Andhra Pradesh ``where some eight million of the poorest, of the most marginalised, are participating in self-help groups not just getting micro-credit help, but really getting self-confidence.''

``That's an example that hopefully helps other countries in the world learn from,'' he said, making the point that the major focus of the Bank's programme in India is in rural development.

``We are going to come out with a World Development Report this year on Agriculture and I think it is going to have some very strong reinforcement on investment in rural development as a major way of fighting poverty,'' he added.

Mr. Wolfowitz said the Spring Meeting will focus on the Global Monitoring Report, the Action Plan and on the Aid Architecture.

Window of opportunity

He stressed that even as Africa is making progress with a ``historic window of opportunity'', it is now time for major donors to step up assistance in general, to Africa in particular.

``IDA (International Developmental Assistance) is not the only mechanism to deliver aid to the poor countries but it is a crucial part of the aid architecture,'' he said.

The Bank president said that even after two years after the Gleneagles summit there is yet to be evidence of new aid flows, especially to those nations that need the funding most. ``It will be a tragic mistake if promises of increased aid is not delivered.''

``When it comes to IDA replenishment, a lot of donors are seeing what the United States is going to do,'' he said, stressing that Washington is a long way off from meeting its promises even if it has a good record on funding for specific projects like HIV-AIDS and malaria. PTI


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