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World Bank Accused of Destroying Traditional Farming to Support Corporate Land Grabs

OAKLAND, CA – March 31 – Today, the Oakland Institute and /The Rules, along with other NGOs and farmer and consumer organizations from around the world launch a campaign, Our Land Our Business, to hold the World Bank accountable for its role in the rampant theft of land and resources from some of the world’s poorest people–farmers, pastoralists, and indigenous communities, many of whom are essential food producers for the entire planet.

“The World Bank is facilitating land grabs and sowing poverty by putting the interests of foreign investors before those of locals,” said Anuradha Mittal, Executive Director of the Oakland Institute.

“Smallholder farmers and herders are currently feeding 80 percent of the developing world. Casting them aside in favor of industrial farming corporations from the West betrays the World Bank’s reckless and short term approach to development,” said Alnoor Ladha, Executive Director of /The Rules.

The Bank’s “Doing Business” rankings, which score countries according to how Washington officials perceive the “ease of doing business” there, have caused many developing-country leaders to deregulate their economies in hopes of attracting foreign investment. But what the World Bank considers beneficial for foreign business is very often the exact opposite for existing farmers and herders.

In the agricultural sector, the rankings encourage governments to commoditize their land–and to sell or lease it to foreign investors, regardless of environmental or social impact. Smallholder farmers, pastoralists, and indigenous people are casualties of this approach, as governments and foreign corporations work hand-in-hand to dispossess them of their land–and gain World Bank approval in the process.

The results have already been devastating. Thanks to reforms and policies guided by the Bank, Sierra Leone has taken 20 percent of its arable land from rural populations and leased it to foreign sugar cane and palm oil producers. And in Liberia, British, Malaysian, and Indonesian palm-oil giants have secured long-term leases for over 1.5 million acres of land formerly held by local communities.

Now the land grab problem is about to get worse. Under pressure from the G8 and with funding from the Gates Foundation, the Bank is doubling down on its rankings fetish by introducing a new program called “Benchmarking the Business of Agriculture” (BBA). The BBA’s explicit goal is to promote “the emergence of a stronger commercial agriculture sector.” Its rankings will prize deregulation of the agriculture sector and is expected to enable further land grabbing around the world.

“We’re standing up with farmers, herders, and indigenous peoples of the developing world who are being steamrolled by the World Bank’s pro-corporate agenda,” added Mittal. “Initiatives like the World Bank’s ‘Doing Business’ rankings encourage governments to steal from the poor in order to give to the rich. That must end.”

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For more information or to schedule an interview with Anuradha Mittal and Alnoor Ladha, please contact Kristen Thomaselli at (202) 471-4228 ext. 101 or [email protected].

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The Oakland Institute is a policy think tank whose mission is to increase public participation and promote fair debate on critical social, economic and environmental issues in both national and international forums.

 

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Tata Tea under scanner for poor living condition and coercion of workers in Assam

Author(s): Sayantan Bera

Date:Feb 12, 2014

World Bank authorises enquiry after investing US $8 million in the global beverages company

Bollywood actress Kareena Kapoor, Tetley’s brand ambassador, at a promotional event in January this yearBollywood actress Kareena Kapoor, Tetley’s brand ambassador, at a promotional event in January this year (Photo:.tataglobalbeverages.com/)

The World Bank, which invested nearly US $8 million in Tata Tea’s plantation company through its investment arm International Finance Corporation (IFC), has authorised an investigation into alleged labour and human rights violations in Tata’s gardens in Assam. The investigation will be carried out by the bank’s independent accountability office—the authorisation came after workers complained of inhuman working and living conditions, coercion and violation of their rights to “freedom of association”.

Tata Global Beverages, which owns Tetley, the second largest tea brand worldwide, sources its black tea from Assam’s tea plantations, in north-eastern India. The complaints were filed by three non-profits in January 2013. Three gardens—Majuli and Hathigarh in Udalguri district and Naharani in Sonitpur district of Assam—are under scrutiny.

“The living conditions of plantation workers are pathetic. There are no provisions for sanitation or drinking water supply at their homes. Women workers don’t have access to toilet when they go for plucking in the gardens,” said Wilfred Topno, secretary of the non-profit People’s Action for Development. “Workers are regularly abused by their supervisors. The management are not allowing new unions which can address their demand,” Topno added.

The violations, especially those relating to lack of housing, come under the purview of the Plantations Labour Act, 1951. Under this Act, tea estates are responsible for housing, medical, rations and other welfare benefits of estate workers. To account for these benefits, cash wages are kept low. “The management cheats the workers of welfare benefits. We also want a revision in the Rs 95 per day wage rate that is abysmally low,” Topno said.

“The investigation team should see that nothing has changed since the World Bank got involved. The supposedly ethical and sustainable company continues to make large profits from the mistreatment and exploitation of plantation workers,” said Stephen Ekka, director of PAJHRA, another co-complainant.

‘Enduring abuses’

A damning report was released in January this year by the Columbia Law School in New York, titled, The more things change: the World Bank, Tata and enduring abuses on India’s tea plantations. The report, based on three years of research and visits to 17 out of 24 plantations, describes pervasive violations of workers’ rights on the plantations owned by Amalgamated Plantations Private Ltd (APPL) in the states of Assam and West Bengal.

“Attracted by Tata’s reputation for social responsibility and its promise to empower the company’s workers through share ownership, the World Bank’s private investment arm, IFC, provided technical and financial support. IFC now owns nearly 20 percent of the shares of company,” said Peter Rosenblum, professor of International Law and Human Rights and faculty director at the Human Rights Institute of the Columbia Law School.

He added that IFC acted with an excess of enthusiasm and an absence of attention to the known problems in the plantation sector. On the basis of a thin record that included visits to only three plantations over the course of three days, the IFC found the project to be in compliance with law and World Bank standards; its assessment was ‘positive without reservation’ as stated by the IFC’s own Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman (CAO), said Rosenblum. “IFC failed even to note the appalling living conditions that plague tea plantations generally, and are immediately visible to anyone visiting worker residences at APPL estates,” he added.

“Together, the World Bank and Tata trumpeted the change, not as an abandonment of the plantations’ 31,000 workers, but as a model for the social responsibility and sustainability movement… In reality, not only do conditions at APPL fail to meet the higher standards of the World Bank and the private certification bodies such as Social Accountability International that gave the plantations their seal of approval, but they violate the 60 year old standards of Indian law. In a number of stark instances, the corporate changes at the former Tata plantations have actually made life worse for workers and their families,” notes the report of Columbia Law School.

“On every plantation visited, workers showed researchers around dilapidated homes lacking protection from rain and wind, each dwelling often housing the families of several workers.  Latrines were also in visible disrepair on all of the plantations visited, sometimes critically. Health care raises issues of both access and quality.  Management confirms the shortage of doctors, but workers complain of unreasonable demands for sick leave—for example, that they must present themselves three times a day at the hospital for verification—and abusive behaviour by medical staff.”

“The investigation is an important first step towards ensuring that workers receive fair and dignified treatment, but IFC must follow up to guarantee that working and living conditions meet all domestic and international standards,” said Komala Ramachandra of Accountability Counsel , a civil society organization supporting workers and non-profits in their complaint.

Responses and responsibilities

Satya Muniasamy, head of corporate communications at Tata Global Beverages, in an email response to Down To Earth, wrote, “While Tata Global Beverages has equity stake in APPL, APPL operates as a separate corporate entity… The Management of APPL has informed us that they do not agree with the contents of the said report, and that they have responded to the authors of the report with a detailed statement, strongly refuting specific allegations contained in the report published on the Columbia Law school website.”

“We at APPL look after our workers and are compliant with the law. We are also part of the Ethical Tea Partnership and also conduct regular Occupational Health and Safety audits. We confirm that full co-operation will be extended to the IFC Compliance team during their audit based on the Ombudsman Report,” Kaushik Biswas, APPL’s company secretary, said in his email response.

In its response to the Columbia Law School report, APPL had earlier said that ‘the report fails to appreciate the fact that tea industry is cyclical in nature’ and ‘went through a long period of recession from 1998 till 2007’ when ‘conservative spending becomes an industry wide necessity’. The APPL response thereafter listed its welfare expenses, initiatives in healthcare, skill development and organic farming.

“As the report highlights, significant work remains to be done and IFC has an important obligation… Given the large number of estates, the company’s large workforce and other legacy issues, the implementation of standards may vary between tea estates. An ongoing review by IFC’s compliance and accountability mechanism will also inform our continued work with APPL,” reads IFC’s response to the Columbia Law School study.

The study documented the erosion of worker’s wages through unfair deductions and high task rates, and instances of deaths due to starvation and waterborne diseases. Among others, it narrated a gruesome incident from 2010.

“Worker anger boiled over at Powai Tea Estate in Assam, triggered by what workers perceived as management contempt for workers’ health and safety. On May 28, 2010, a 25-year-old worker named Gopal Tanti, assigned to pesticide spraying, collapsed and died on the job. Workers reacted strongly, protesting both the conditions that they believed contributed to his death and the disrespectful treatment of his body once it was found. During the protests that broke out following Tanti’s death, local management called in the police. The police fired into the crowd, killing two people and injuring 15.”

 

Readmore here — http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/tata-tea-under-scanner-poor-living-condition-and-coercion-workers

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PRESS RELEASE- Over 100 Organisations Demand World Bank Withdrawal from Tata Mundra

Press Statement : November 4, 2013

Wake Up Kim

Over a hundred prominent organisations expressed shock over World Bank President Dr. Jim Kim’s inaction on the audit report on Tata Mundra Power Project in Gujarat, condemned it and demanded International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) withdrawal from the project.

 

“People’s movements and their allies in India are shocked that you have cleared the IFC Management’s response to the CAO Audit Report on Tata Mundra Project,” the letter sent today to the President said. “The CAO findings warrant nothing less than IFC’s withdrawal from the project” they added.

 

Condemning it they said, “Your endorsement of IFC’s response to CAO findings and thus letting IFC and the company continue the violations merits nothing less than condemnation.”

 

The independent recourse mechanism of IFC the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) released their findings on October 24, after a year-long investigation into the financing of IFC to the project. CAO found IFC made serious lapses in funding Tata coal plant.

 

The letter was issued in support of the local organisation, Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan (MASS). It was signed by National Alliance of People’s Movements, Narmada Bachao AndolanMazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, All India Union of Forest Working People, India Climate Justice, National Fishworkers Forum, All India Forum of Forest Movements and others.
Taking serious note of the inaction of the President the organisations said, “By your decision to keep your eyes closed to the damning findings of CAO, you are complicit in the human rights violations, livelihood loss, impacts of air pollution, water contamination, and perilous marine ecological disaster in the wake of the IFC-funded project.”

 

Looking at the larger malice of World Bank, the letter said, “(World Bank’s)compliance mechanisms like CAO and Inspection Panel are increasingly becoming a farce, while the Bank continues aiding projects – whether hydro projects or coal projects, infrastructure development, or meddling with our policies and legal system.” World Bank Group has currently 386 active projects in India with a committed portfolio of $29.5 bn.

 

Concluding the letter, they said “We will continue our struggles against the Bank, its policies and its blatant disrespect of human rights. We will strengthen the struggle of MASS and would challenge you and your Bank at every possible avenue.”

 

Background:

 

The 4000 MW Coastal Gujarat Power Ltd (Tata Mundra) is finance byInternational Finance Corporation (IFC), Asian Development Bank, Korean ExIm Bank and other national Banks.

 

A complaint by the local organisation MASS to the recourse mechanism of IFCthe Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) led to a full investigation into the financing of the project.

 

CAO validated major MASS complaints. It found the IFC committed serious supervision failures and significant policy breaches.

 

CAO confirmed that the environmental and social risks and impacts of the project were not considered and addressed; there is no social baseline data; IFC’s policies for land acquisition not applied, despite physical and economic displacement, Inadequate attention paid to the requirement of biodiversity conservation; IFC failed in its review and supervision of the impacts on airshed and marine environment and IFC failed to examine the cumulative impact of Tata Mundra.

 

IFC rebutted the findings of CAO.

 

Resources:

 

CAO Audit Report

IFC Response to CAO Audit Report

Key Observations and Findings from CAO Audit

Press Release by MASS dated October 24, 2013

 

Contacts:

Madhuresh Kumar: +91-9818905316

Soumya Dutta: +91-9213763756

 

—————-

 

November 4, 2013

 

Dear President Dr. Jim Yong Kim,

 

People’s movements and their allies in India are shocked that you have cleared the IFC Management’s response to the CAO Audit Report on Tata Mundra Project, and thus undermining the credibility of your own recourse mechanism meant to address the grievances of the project-affected people.

 

CAO issued a report showing how IFC committed serious lapses and violations of its safeguard policies in the 4, 000 MW Tata Coal Plant in Mundra. The report, which was most meticulously drafted after rigorous studies was simply refuted by IFC, who not only defended their involvement in the project, but also claimed the same for their client Coastal Gujarat Power Ltd. (CGPL).

 

We express our solidarity with Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan (MASS – Association for the Struggle for Fishworkers’ Rights), an organization of project-affected fishing families, and the principal complainant to CAO.

 

Your endorsing IFC’s response is a cruel shock to the numerous fishing families affected by the project, who hoped for a better response to the findings based on your expertise in public health, and firm and resolute words to address climate change. Your endorsement of IFC’s response to CAO findings and thus letting IFC and the company continue the violations merits nothing less than condemnation.

 

By your decision to keep your eyes closed to the damning findings of CAO, you are complicit in the human rights violations, livelihood loss, impacts of air pollution, water contamination, and perilous marine ecological disaster in the wake of the IFC-funded project.

 

Your decision reconfirms that the Bank does not care about accountability, does not care about people and the environment.  WBG’s compliance mechanisms like CAO and Inspection Panel are increasingly becoming a farce, while the Bank continues aiding projects – whether hydro projects or coal projects, infrastructure development, or meddling with our policies and legal system.

 

The CAO has given all the reasons to say that the Tata Mundra project has gone all wrong, right from the time of planning and impact assessments and at every stage of its execution. The findings are based on scientific studies and the conclusions drawn after hearing all sides – the affected communities, IFC and the company. Such findings conscientiously implicate the role of the WBG.

 

The CAO findings warrant nothing less than IFC’s withdrawal from the project. We will continue our struggles against the Bank, its policies and its blatant disrespect of human rights. We will strengthen the struggle of MASS and would challenge you and your Bank at every possible avenue.

 

Sincerely,

 

1.                   Medha Patkar, Narmada Bachao Andolan, Maharashtra

2.                   Sandeep Pandey, National Alliance of People’s Movements

3.                   Nikhil Dey, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, Rajasthan

4.                   Ashok Choudhary, All India Union of Forest Working People

5.                   India Climate Justice, New Delhi

6.                   T. Peter, National Fishworkers Forum, Kerala

7.                   Praful Bidwai, Journalist, New Delhi

8.                   Souparna Lahiri, All India Forum of Forest Movements

9.                   Dunu Roy, Hazards Centre, Delhi

10.               Bela Bhatia, Honorary Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai 

11.               Magline Peter,  Teeradesa Mahla Vedi, Kerala

12.               Afsar H. Jafri, Focus on the Global South

13.               Shweta Tripathi, Society for Rural Urban and Tribal Initiatives, New Delhi

14.               Kiran Shaheen, Right to Water Campaign, Delhi

15.               Richa Singh, Sangtin Kisan Majdoor Sangthan Uttar Pradesh

16.               Subash Mohapatra, Journalist, Odisha

17.               Ravi Nitesh, Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign, New Delhi

18.               Krishnakant, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, Gujarat

19.               Juned Khan Komal, Society for Promotion of Wastelands Development, Rajasthan

20.               Diwan Singh, Yamuna Satyagraha, New Delhi

21.               Kaveri R.I Bangalore, Karnataka

22.               Ashim Jain, Bangalore, Karnataka

23.               Ajitha George, Omon Mahila Sanghatan, Jharkhand

24.               Amulya Kumar Nayak, Odisha Chas Parivesh Surakshya Parisad, Odisha

25.               Latha Anantha, River Research Centre, Kerala

26.               Usha S, Thanal, Kerala

27.               Leo Saldanha, Environment Support Group, Karnataka

28.               Kanchi Kohli, Kalpavriksh, New Delhi

29.               Vinay Baindur, Researcher Urban Governance and Decentralisation, Karnataka

30.               Madhusudhan, Yakshi, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh

31.               Sagari Ramdas, Anthra, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh

32.               Shweta Narayan, Community Environmental Monitoring, Chennai, Tamilnadu

33.               BIRSA – Bindrai Institute for Research Study and Action, Jharkhand

34.               Awadhesh Kumar, Ssrijan Lokhit Samiti, Madhya Pradesh

35.               Jharkhand Mines Area Co-ordination Committee, Jharkhand

36.               Sunderrajan, Poovulagin Nanbargal, Chennai, Tamilnadu

37.               Reena Rebari, Ujjas Mahila Sangathan, Gujarat

38.               Pandudora, Adivasi Aikya Vedika, Andhra Pradesh

39.               Shankar Sharma, Policy Analyst, Andhra Pradesh

40.               Wilfred Dcosta, Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF), New Delhi

41.               M Kikon, DICE Foundation, Nagaland

42.               Gopal Krishna, ToxicsWatch Alliance, New Delhi

43.               Achin Vanaik, Retd. Professor of International Relations, University of Delhi. Delhi

44.               Shalini Gera, Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha, Chhattisgarh

45.               Sanjeev Kumar, Delhi Forum, Delhi

46.               Vijayan M.J., Programme for Social Action, New Delhi

47.               Madhuresh Kumar, National Alliance of People’s Movements, New Delhi

48.               P.T. George, Intercultural Resources, New Delhi

49.               P Chennaiah, Andhra Pradesh Vyavasaya Vruthidarula Union, Andhra Pradesh

50.               Dr. Sunilam, Aradhna Bhargava – Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Madhya Pradesh

51.               Prafulla Samantara, Lok Shakti Abhiyan, Odisha

52.               Gautam Bandopadhyay, Nadi Ghati Morcha, Chhattisgarh

53.               Suniti SR, Prasad Bagwe – SEZ Virodhi Manch, Maharashtra

54.               Gabriel Dietrich, Pennurimai Iyakkam, Tamilnadu

55.               Geetha Ramakrishnan, Unorganised Sector Workers Federation, Tamilnadu

56.               Bhupender Singh Rawat, Jan Sangharsh Vahini Delhi

57.               Sunita Rani, Domestic Workers’ Union, Delhi

58.               Anita Kapoor, Delhi Shahri Mahila Kaamgaar Union, Delhi

59.               Rajendra Ravi, Institute for Democracy & Sustainability, Delhi

60.               Arjun Singh, National Cyclist Union, New Delhi

61.               Arundhati Dhuru, Right to Food Campaign, Uttar Pradesh

62.               Sister Celia, Domestic Workers Union, Karnataka

63.               Sumit, Madhuri Shivkar, Simpreet Singh – Ghar Bachao, Ghar Banao Andolan, Mumbai

64.               Dr. Rupesh Verma, Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Uttar Pradesh

65.               Manish Gupta, Jan Kalyan Upbhokta Samiti, Uttar Pradesh

66.               Vimal Bhai, Matu Jan sangathan, Uttarakhand

67.               Vilas Bhongade, Gosikhurd Prakalpgrast Sangharsh Samiti, Maharashtra

68.               Ramashray Singh, Ghatwar Adivasi Mahasabha, Jharkhand

69.               Anand Mazhgaonkar, Paryavaran Suraksh Samiti, Gujarat

70.               Rohit Prajapati, Radical Socialist, Gujarat

71.               Jitn Yumnam, Citizens Concern for Dams and Development, Manpur

72.               Borok Peoples Human Rights Organization, Tripura

73.               Prasad Chacko, Human Development and Research Centre, Gujarat

74.               Ram Wangkheirakpam, North East Peoples Alliance, Manipur

75.               Rehmat, Gaurav and Shripad Dharmadhikari – Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, Madhya Pradesh

76.               Ranjan Panda, Water Initiatives Odisha. Odisha

77.               Samir Mehta, River Basin Friends, Mumbai

78.               Xavier Dias, Editor, Khan Kaneej Aur ADHIKAR, Jharkhand

79.               Himanshu Upadhyaya, Public Finance Public Accountability Collective, Karnataka

80.               Amit Sengupta, Editor, Hardnews, New Delhi

81.               Committee on the Protection of Natural Resources in Manipur

82.               Clifton D’ Rozario, Alternative law Forum, Karnataka

83.               Alok Agarwal, Narmada Bachao Andolan, Madhya Pradesh

84.               Aanchal Kapur, Kriti, New Delhi

85.               Himanshu Thakkar, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People, New Delhi

86.               Gururaja Budhya, Urban Research Centre, Karnataka

87.               Soumya Dutta, Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha, New Delhi

88.               Falguni Joshi, Gujarat Forum on CDM, Ahmedabad, Gujarat

89.               Mahesh Pandya, ParyavaranMitra, Ahmedabad, Gujarat

90.               Himanshu Banker, Vikalp, Ahmedabad, Gujarat

91.               Dr Leena Gupta  SPWD, New Delhi

92.               Chetan Vyas, Paryavaran Gauchar Bachao Samiti, Rajula (Amerli), Gujarat

93.               Herry Ranva, Bahujan Samajik trust, Rajkot, Gujarat

94.               Dipal Dabhi, Adivasi Sarvangi Vikas Sangh, Danta, Gujarat

95.               Nirmal Parmar, Charitable Pragati Prayas Kendra, Godhra, Gujarat

96.               Tushar Pancholi, Paryavaraniya Vikas Kendra, Rajkot, Gujarat

97.               Gautam Thakar, PUCL, Ahmedabad, Gujarat

98.               Arvind Padhiyar,Mahisagar Shakti Sangathan, Padra, Gujarat

99.               Anil Tharayath Varghese  Delhi Solidarity Group

100.            Bijulal M.V., Mahatma Gandhi University, Kerala

101.            Ravindranath,River Basin Friends, Assam

102.            Sumesh Mangalasseri, Kabani, Kerala

 

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World Bank: Ducking Human Rights Issues

Billions for Development, but Lack of Safeguards Undermines Benefits

July 22, 2013

English: Human Rights Watch logo Русский: Лого...

English: Human Rights Watch logo Русский: Логотип Хьюман Райтс Вотч (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(Washington, DC) – The World Bank [2] has closed its eyes to risks to the human rights of the very people it seeks to benefit, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The bank lacks adequate checks to guard against funding human rights abuse. The bank’s board will meet as part of its ongoing policy review, which provides an opportunity to remedy this policy gap, in Washington on July 23, 2013.

The 59-page report, “Abuse-Free Development: How the World Bank Should Safeguard Against Human Rights Violations,” [3] draws on Human Rights Watch research from around the globe to document the harm caused to some of the world’s most vulnerable people by bank-financed programs. Human Rights Watch drew on three case studies, one from Vietnam [4] and two from Ethiopia [5], to illustrate how the bank neither acknowledged the human rights risks of the programs it financed nor took steps to mitigate the problems.

“The World Bank pays tens of billions of dollars every year to support development efforts around the world,” said Jessica Evans [6], senior advocate on international financial institutions at Human Rights Watch. “But it needs to stop undermining its efforts by making sure it isn’t contributing to human rights abuses.”

The World Bank’s recently adopted goals to end extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity are inextricably linked to the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living, including adequate food, water, and housing, Human Rights Watch said. But the bank cannot meaningfully achieve these goals in complex environments without ensuring that it respects the rights of the people it is working to benefit.

The World Bank’s two year review and update of its safeguard policies, which began in October 2012, provides an opportunity for the bank to create a due diligence framework that will enable it to identify the human rights impacts of its activities. Such a framework would help the bank take measures to mitigate negative impacts, maximize positive impacts, and avoid financing projects and programs that will contribute to, or exacerbate, human rights violations. The World Bank should make human rights law a key component of its development manifesto.

In several cases, the World Bank has neither acknowledged nor mitigated human rights risks in its programs, Human Rights Watch found. As a result, for example, in Vietnam, the World Bank has funded programs in government drug detention centers [7] in which Human Rights Watch has documented arbitrary detention, forced labor, torture, and other forms of ill-treatment.

In Ethiopia, the World Bank did not work to avoid the risks that the government’s quashing of free speech, denial of basic services to perceived or real political opponents, or forcible relocation program presented for its programs.

Through a US$2 billion project, the World Bank is working to support education, health, water, sanitation, rural roads, and agricultural extension services in Ethiopia. Some staff members contend that by contributing to developing these services, this project benefits human rights. But in Ethiopia’s western Gambella [8] region, the main vehicle for achieving development objectives, including those envisioned under this World Bank project, is a program that not only fails to further such rights, it tramples on them, Human Rights Watch found.

Known as “villagization,” the government initiative is relocating 1.5 million indigenous and other marginalized people to new villages, where the better services and infrastructure the government promises is often a fiction. Villagization has been marred by violence [9].

One 20-year-old man who escaped to South Sudan told [10] Human Rights Watch, “Soldiers came and asked me why I refused to be relocated.… They started beating me until my hands were broken.… I ran to tell [my father] what had happened, but the soldiers followed me. My father and I ran away.… I heard the sound of gunfire.”

Forced to separate from his father, he kept running and hid from the soldiers in nearby bushes. When he returned the next day, he learned that his father had been killed.

The World Bank should make a commitment both to respect [11] and to protect human rights, Human Rights Watch said. That should include ensuring that it does not exacerbate or contribute to human rights violations through its lending or other activities. The World Bank should carry out systematic due diligence to make sure that it honors its commitment.

Had it taken such steps with projects it is implementing in regions where the Ethiopian government was carrying out villagization, for example, the bank would have been aware of the risks of arbitrary arrests and detention, forced evictions, beatings, torture, and killings. It would also have identified the potential for reduced and inadequate access to food, health care, and water in the places where the villagers were being moved. The bank could have built measures to avoid these risks into its project design.

“Human rights due diligence is not about naming and shaming governments in need of development funds,” Evans said. “It is the process of looking at the effect of the World Bank’s lending or other support on human rights, and figuring out how to avoid or mitigate human rights risks.”

As they currently stand, the World Bank’s safeguard policies are insufficient [12] to ensure that human rights are respected in its projects. While the bank has committed not to finance project activities that would contravene borrower country obligations under relevant international environmental treaties and agreements, it is silent on obligations under international human rights treaties. The bank has policies on involuntary resettlement and indigenous peoples, but even these policies fall short of international human rights standards. Funding decisions relating to rights concerns lack transparency and appear arbitrary and inconsistent, Human Rights Watch found.

The absence of a clear commitment not to support activities that will contribute to or exacerbate human rights violations leaves staff without guidance on how they should approach human rights concerns, or what their responsibilities are. Staff members have unfettered discretion to determine the extent to which they will consider human rights risks, take measures to mitigate or avoid harm, and even to bring problems to the attention of senior management or the board. The lack of clear procedures and policies on human rights means that people whose rights are adversely affected have no way to hold the bank to account.

By adopting a human-rights-conscious approach, the World Bank can minimize avoidable suffering, especially among marginalized, excluded, and vulnerable groups, making its development efforts more sustainable. By supporting governments in meeting their human rights obligations, the bank can advance consistency in government policy. Reducing human rights risks also can help to mitigate legal and financial risks, and potential harm to the bank’s reputation.

The World Bank needs to improve the human rights standards it sets for itself, to meet its legal obligations and to remain a leading development institution, Human Rights Watch said. Member countries have similar and additional specific human rights obligations, which they retain while they are members of the bank and as they sit on the bank’s Board of Executive Directors, which approves bank projects.

The World Bank should amend its safeguard policies to:

  • Commit not to support any activities that will contribute to or exacerbate human rights violations, and to respect international human rights in all activities, irrespective of the funding mechanism utilized.
  • Undertake due diligence to honor this commitment, including by undertaking human rights impact assessments to identify the human rights impacts of its activities and avoid or mitigate adverse impacts. The bank can also use such impact assessments to maximize positive human rights impacts of its activities, consistent with its poverty alleviation mandate.
  • Enhance existing safeguards to meet international human rights standards, including updating the indigenous peoples and involuntary resettlement policies to meet the standards set out in relevant human rights treaties, declarations, and documents from treaty bodies and UN special rapporteurs interpreting these obligations.
  • Ensure that it does not discriminate against people on any grounds prohibited by international law, and that all members of affected communities have the opportunity to meaningfully participate in shaping development agendas and policies, during all stages of projects or programs.

“At one time, the World Bank said that its nonpolitical mandate precluded it from even considering human rights in its funding decisions,” Evans said. “Now the bank accepts that it can consider human rights, but views that as discretionary. It is high time that the World Bank recognized that universal human rights are not discretionary.”

 


 

 

 

© Copyright 2013, Human Rights Watch

 

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Indian Gov’t on Collision Course With Civil Society

Police accost women protesting against the Kudankulam nuclear plant in India. Credit: K. S. Harikrishnan/IPS.Police accost women protesting against the Kudankulam nuclear plant in India. Credit: K. S. Harikrishnan/IPS.

NEW DELHI, May 23 2013 (IPS) – For years India’s pro-liberalisation, Congress party-led coalition government chafed at civil society groups getting in the way of grand plans to boost growth through the setting up of mega nuclear power parks, opening up the vast mineral-rich tribal lands to foreign investment and selling off public assets.

Now, at the end of its tether, the Interior Ministry has cracked the whip on hundreds of non-governmental organisations engaged in activities that “prejudicially affect the public interest.”

 

“…The government is trying to promote globalisation while cracking down on the globalisation of dissent.” — Achin Vanaik

On Apr. 30 several NGOs were informed that the bank accounts through which they receive foreign funding had been frozen. 

“It is shocking what the government has done – but not surprising given the increasingly authoritarian, undemocratic and repressive measures being directed…against anyone who is seen to challenge or disagree with their positions and decisions,” Lalita Ramdas, anti-nuclear campaigner and board chair of Greenpeace International, told IPS.

Ramdas said NGOs concerned with nuclear power, human rights, environment and ecology – areas where corporate and industrial interests were likely to be questioned – appeared to be particular targets of the government order.

Among the worst affected is the Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF), a network of more than 700 NGOs that is currently challenging, in the Supreme Court, the government’s restrictions on foreign funding reaching groups that engage in activities that can be described as “political” in nature.

In its court petition INSAF described itself as an organisation that believes that “the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution of India need to be safeguarded against blatant and rampant violations by the State and private corporations.”

INSAF said it has “actively campaigned against land grabs by corporations, ecological disaster by mining companies, water privatisation, genetically modified foods, hazardous nuclear power (and) anti-people policies of international financial institutions like the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.”

INSAF declared in court that it “firmly believes in a secular and peaceful social order and opposes communalism and the targeted attacks on the lives and rights of people including religious minorities, and regularly organises campaigns, workshops, conventions, fact-findings, people’s tribunals, solidarity actions for people’s movements and educational publications.”

“With that kind of a profile we were expecting this crackdown,” Anil Chaudhary, coordinator of INSAF, told IPS. “Still, the government could have waited for the Supreme Court verdict.”

“At this rate,” he said, “organisations working against discrimination of women and (advocating) for their empowerment through participation in local bodies could be termed “political”, as (well as) organisations working for farmers’ rights.

“The same arbitrariness can be applied to green NGOs trying to protect the environment against mindless industrialisation.”

Chaudhary thinks it unfair that NGOs critical of government policies are being singled out. “Instead of selectively freezing the funding of groups under INSAF, the government should order a blanket ban on all foreign funding.”

Among INSAF’s many campaigns is an intiative to bring international financial institutions like the World Bank under legislative scrutiny for their activities in India.

It cannot have escaped the government’s attention that INSAF’s campaigns have run parallel to powerful movements for transparency and clean governance led by social activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal, founder of the Aam Admi Party (Common Man’s Party) that plans to contest general elections due in 2014.

 

Kejriwal, whose social activity led to the passage of the 2005 Right to Information Act, has also been closely associated with transparency campaigns led by Anna Hazare, who mounted a Gandhian-style fast against corruption in April 2011 that rallied over 100,000 ordinary people.

Street protests demanding good governance have since been a thorn in the side of the government.  When they peaked in December 2012, following the gang rape of a young woman in a bus in the national capital, police took to beating protestors.

The government, starting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, has also been frustrated by NGOs’ efforts to stall work on a string of mega nuclear parks along peninsular India’s long coastline, especially at Jaitapur in Maharashtra, Mithi Virdi in Gujarat and Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu.

In February, the government froze the accounts of two leading Tamil Nadu-based NGOs allegedly associated with the protests at the site of the Kudankulam plant, signalling a new and tough stance against civil society groups fighting the displacement of farmers and fishermen by mega development projects.

The two NGOs, the Tuticorin Diocesan Association and the Tamil Nadu Social Service Society, received four million and eight million dollars respectively over a five-year period that ended in 2011, according to declarations they made to the government.

With strong backing from the Church, the groups continue to operate despite the freeze on their assets.

During the same five-year period a total of about 22,000 NGOs across India received roughly two billion dollars in foreign contributions, going by government records.

Unexpected protests have surfaced from among the Congress party’s partners in the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA). Devi Prasad Tripathi, general secretary of the Nationalist Congress Party and member of parliament, reminded Interior Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde that the UPA is “committed to protecting and promoting secular, democratic and progressive forces in the country.”

“Effectively, the government is trying to promote globalisation while cracking down on the globalisation of dissent,” commented Achin Vanaik, professor of political science at the Delhi University.

The government’s move stands in stark contrast to promises made not two years ago at the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid and Development Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea, where 159 governments and member organisations honoured the vital role played by the non-profit sector by pledging to foster an “empowering” climate for civil society.

In his most recent report to the United Nations General Assembly, Maina Kiai, special rapporteur on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, noted with grave concern that India has repressed “peaceful protestors advocating economic, social and cultural rights, such as…local residents denouncing the health impact of nuclear power plants.

 

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Socioeconomic Inequality in Disability – A Multi Country Study

 

A Multicountry Study Using the World Health Survey.
disability-discrimination1

 

Ahmad R. Hosseinpoor, Alana Officer, Emese Verdes, Nenad Kostanjsek, and Somnath Chatterji are with the World Health Organization, Geneva,Switzerland. Jennifer A. Stewart Williams is with the University of NewcastleNewcastle, New South Wales, Australia. Jeny Gautam is with Dianella Community Health, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Aleksandra Posarac is with the World Bank, Washington, DC.

 

“……We compared national prevalence and wealth-related inequality in disability across a large number of countries from all income groups.

Methods. Data on 218737 respondents participating in the World Health Survey 2002–2004 were analyzed.
A composite disability score (0–100) identified respondents who experienced significant disability in physical, mental, and social functioning irrespective of their underlying health condition. Disabled persons had disability composite scores above 40. Wealth was evaluated using an index of economic status in households based on ownership of selected assets. Socioeconomic inequalities were measured using the slope index of inequality and the relative index of inequality.

Results.
Median age-standardized disability prevalence was higher in the low- and lower middle-income countries. In all the study countries, disability was more prevalent in the poorest than in the richest wealth quintiles. Pro-rich inequality was statistically significant in 43 of 49 countries, with disability prevalence higher among populations with lower wealth. Median relative inequality was higher in the high- and upper middle-income countries.

Conclusions.
Integrating equity components into the monitoring of disability trends would help ensure that interventions reach and benefit populations with greatest need. …”

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(Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print May 16, 2013: e1–e9. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2012.301115)

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#India – Why Salwa Judum was held Unconstitutional by Supreme Court

 

Excerpts from

NANDINI SUNDAR & ORS.
VERSUS
STATE OF CHATTISGARH

 

What is ominous, and forebodes grave danger to the security
and unity of this nation, the welfare of all of our people,
and the sanctity of our constitutional vision and goals, is
that the State is drawing the wrong conclusions, as pointed
out by the Expert Group of the Planning Commission cited
earlier. Instead of locating the problem in the socioeconomic matrix,

and the sense of disempowerment wrought by

the false developmental paradigm without a human face, the
powers that be in India are instead propagating the view
that this obsession with economic growth is our only path,
and that the costs borne by the poor and the deprived,
disproportionately, are necessary costs. Amit Bhaduri, a
noted economist, has observed:
“If we are to look a little beyond our middle class noses,
beyond the world painted by mainstream media, the picture is
less comforting, less assuring…. Once you step outside the
charmed circle of a privileged minority expounding on the
virtues of globalization, liberalization and privatization,
things appear less certain…. According to the estimate of the
Ministry of Home Affairs, some 120 to 160 out of a total of 607
1 Ajay K. Mehra, supra note 114
districts are “Naxal infested”. Supported by a disgruntled and
dispossessed peasantry, the movement has spread to nearly onefourth of Indian territory. And yet, all that this government
does is not to face the causes of the rage and despair that
nurture such movements; instead it considers it a menace, a lawand-order problem…. that is to be rooted out by the violence of
the state, and congratulates itself when it uses violence
effectively to crush the resistance of the angry poor…. For the
sake of higher growth, the poor in growing numbers will be left
out in the cold, undernourished, unskilled and illiterate,
totally defenceless against the ruthless logic of a global
market…. [T]his is not merely an iniquitous process. High growth
brought about in this manner does not simply ignore the question
of income distribution, its reality is far worse. It threatens
the poor with a kind of brutal violence in the name of
development, a sort of ‘developmental terrorism’, violence
perpetrated on the poor in the name of development by the state
primarily in the interest of corporate aristocracy, approved by
the IMF and the World Bank, and a self-serving political class….
Academics and media persons have joined the political chorus of
presenting the developmental terrorism as a sign of progress, an
inevitable cost of development. The conventional wisdom of our
time is that, There Is No Alternative…. And yet this so widely
agreed upon model of development is fatally flawed. It has
already been rejected and will be rejected again by the growing
strength of our democratic polity, and by direct resistance of
the poor threatened with ‘developmental terrorism”.
15.As if the above were not bad enough, another dangerous
strand of governmental action seems to have been evolved
out of the darkness that has begun to envelope our policy
makers, with increasing blindness to constitutional wisdom
and values. On the one hand the State subsidises the
private sector, giving it tax break after tax break, while
simultaneously citing lack of revenues as the primary
reason for not fulfilling its obligations to provide
adequate cover to the poor through social welfare measures.
On the other hand, the State seeks to arm the youngsters
amongst the poor with guns to combat the anger, and unrest,
amongst the poor.
16.Tax breaks for the rich, and guns for the youngsters
amongst poor, so that they keep fighting amongst15
themselves, seems to be the new mantra from the mandarins
of security and high economic policy of the State. This,
apparently, is to be the grand vision for the development
of a nation that has constituted itself as a sovereign,
secular, socialist and democratic republic. Consequently,
questions necessarily arise as to whether the policy
makers, and the powers that be, are in any measure being
guided by constitutional vision, values, and limitations
that charge the State with the positive obligation of
ensuring the dignity of all citizens.
17.What the mandarins of high policies forget is that a
society is not a forest where one could combat an
accidental forest fire by starting a counter forest fire
that is allegedly controlled. Human beings are not
individual blades of dry grass. As conscious beings, they
exercise a free will. Armed, the very same groups can turn,
and often have turned, against other citizens, and the
State itself. Recent history is littered with examples of
the dangers of armed vigilante groups that operate under
the veneer of State patronage or support.
18.Such misguided policies, albeit vehemently and muscularly
asserted by some policy makers, are necessarily contrary to
the vision and imperatives of our constitution which
demands that the power vested in the State, by the people,
be only used for the welfare of the people – all the
people, both rich and the poor -, thereby assuring
conditions of human dignity within the ambit of fraternity
amongst groups of them. Neither Article 14, nor Article 21,
can even remotely be conceived as being so bereft of
substance as to be immune from such policies. They are
necessarily tarnished, and violated in a primordial sense
by such policies. The creation of such a miasmic16
environment of dehumanization of youngsters of the deprived
segments of our population, in which guns are given to them
rather than books, to stand as guards for the rapine,
plunder and loot in our forests, would be to lay the road
to national destruction. It is necessary to note here that
this Court had to intercede and order the Government of
Chattisgarh to get the security forces to vacate the
schools and hostels that they had occupied; and even after
such orders, many schools and hostels still remain in the
possession and occupancy of the security forces. Such is
the degree of degeneration of life, and society. Facts
speak for themselves.
19.Analyzing the causes for failure of many nation-states, in
recent decades, Robert I. Rotberg, a professor of the
Kennedy School, Harvard University, posits the view that
“[N]ation- states exist to provide a decentralized method
of delivering political (public) goods to persons living
within designated parameters (borders)…. They organize and
channel the interests of their people, often but not
exclusively in furtherance of national goals and values.”
Amongst the purposes that nation-states serve, that are
normatively expected by citizenries, are included the task
of buffering or manipulation of “external forces and
influences,” and mediation between “constraints and
challenges” of the external and international forces and
the dynamics of “internal economic, political, and social
realities.” In particular he notes:
“States succeed or fail across all or some of these dimensions.
But it is according to their performance – according to the
levels of their effective delivery of the most crucial political
goods – that strong states may be distinguished from weak ones,
and weak states from failed or collapsed states…. There is a
hierarchy of political goods. None is as crucial as the supply
of security, especially human security. Individuals alone,
almost exclusively in special or particular circumstances, can
attempt to secure themselves. Or groups of individuals can band17
together to organize and purchase goods or services that
maximize their sense of security. Traditionally, and usually,
however, individuals and groups cannot easily or effectively
substitute private security for the full spectrum of public
security. The state’s prime function is to provide that
political good of security – to prevent cross-border invasions
and infiltrations, to eliminate domestic threats to or attacks
upon the national order and social structure… and to stabilize
citizens to resolve their disputes with the state and with their
fellow human inhabitants without recourse to arms or other forms
of physical coercion.”1
20.The primary task of the State is the provision of security
to all its citizens, without violating human dignity. This
would necessarily imply the undertaking of tasks that would
prevent the emergence of great dissatisfaction, and
disaffection, on account of the manner and mode of
extraction, and distribution, of natural resources and
organization of social action, its benefits and costs. Our
Directive Principles of State Policy explicitly recognize
this. Our Constitution posits that unless we secure for our
citizens conditions of social, economic and political
justice for all who live in India, we would not have
achieved human dignity for our citizens, nor would we be in
a position to promote fraternity amongst groups of them.
Policies that run counter to that essential truth are
necessarily destructive of national unity and integrity. To
pursue socio-economic policies that cause vast disaffection
amongst the poor, creating conditions of violent politics
is a proscribed feature of our Constitution. To arrive at
such a situation, in actuality on account of such policies,
and then claim that there are not enough resources to
tackle the resulting socio-political unrest, and violence,
within the framework of constitutional values amounts to an
abdication of constitutional responsibilities. To claim
that resource crunch prevents the State from developing
1 “The Failure and Collapse of Nation-States – BREAKDOWN, PREVENTION AND FAILURE” in
“WHEN STATES FAIL: CAUSES AND CONSEQUENCES” Robert I. Rotberg, Ed., Princeton
University Press (2004).18
appropriate capacity in ensuring security for its citizens
through well trained formal police and security forces that
are capable of working within the constitutional framework
would be an abandonment of a primordial function of the
State. To pursue policies whereby guns are distributed
amongst barely literate youth amongst the poor to control
the disaffection in such segments of the population would
be tantamount to sowing of suicide pills that could divide
and destroy society. Our youngsters are our most precious
resource, to be nurtured for a better tomorrow. Given the
endemic inequalities in our country, and the fact that we
are increasingly, in a demographic sense, a young
population, such a policy can necessarily be expected to
lead to national disaster.
21. Our constitution is most certainly not a “pact for national
suicide.”1 In the least, its vision does enable us, as
constitutional adjudicators to recognize, and prevent, the
emergence, and the institutionalization, of a policing
paradigm, the end point of which can only mean that the
entire nation, in short order, might have to gasp: “The
horror! The horror!”

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Gujarat and The Illusion of Development

By – Shipra Nigam at kafila.org

MAY 23, 2013

This Guest post by SHIPRA NIGAM is a review of a volume of essays edited by Atul Sood Poverty Amidst Prosperity: Essays on the Trajectory of Development in Gujarat (Aakar Books 2013).

gujarat-farmers_507544e

Thousands of farmers protested in March this year in Ahmedabad against the state’sindustrialization policies

This volume of essays is the outcome of a detailed study by a team of contributing research scholars led by Atul Sood. This timely evaluation provides an insight into many crucial questions: What are the constituent elements of Gujarat’s growth story? To what extent can the successful features of Gujarat’s growth story be attributed to the political regime fashioned by Narendra Modi? Is it possible to replicate even this limited success story at the national level – as Modi’s starry eyed upper and middle class following would like to believe? More significantly: what are the implications of Gujarat’s Development Model in terms of its sustainability and its desirability? What happens when we assess this development through a set of comprehensive   measures, judge its implication for the average citizen’s material wellbeing, and see what it means for the political and economic rights of citizens?

The study proceeds through a meticulous examination of existing official data sources on investment, infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing , employment, poverty , inequality, education and health expenditures and a set of other indicators of development.  These are then used to explain various developmental outcomes in the state in relation to national averages and the performance of other states which have also experienced high growth rates recently, such as Maharashtra, Haryana and Tamilnadu. Atul Sood’s cogently argued and insightful introduction brings together the different strands of the study, weaving the detailed findings into a coherent narrative. The picture that emerges interrogates both the normative implications of the ‘Gujarat development model’, and offers a powerful critique of its actual performance even judged in terms of its own self projections.

Unsurprisingly there is little that is new in Gujarat’s developmental model.  Its market led growth operates within the new-liberal paradigm that has for some decades been touted by the IMF, World Bank and inc as the panacea for all ills in developing countries. It is a frame that has been widely contested, critiqued and discredited for its abysmal failure in bringing in sustainable, equitable and participatory growth within the developing world. In fact, the paradigm has been held responsible for inducing and aggravating the enormous difficulties faced by many of the developing countries.  As the analysis in the book confirms, the ‘Gujarat Development Model’ is nothing more than a fervent adaptation and implementation of this chosen path favoured by the Indian state itself since the mid-1980s.  Hence, along with the imminent candidature of Narendra Modi as BJP’s prime ministerial nominee, the celebration of this developmental model by India Inc assumes omnious significance .

An Investment Fatigue?

The initial chapters by Ruchika Rani, Santosh Kumar Das, Pankaj Vashist and Gaurav Arya explore various aspects of Gujarat’s  GDP growth, investment flows and infrastructure development. While  Gujarat’s average  GDP growth rates in the past decade are higher than the national average and slightly above those of other high performing states, the gap has been narrowing overtime, which also coincides with an ‘investment fatigue’ that has set in recently. Since Gujarat’s infrastructure is not markedly different from other industrially competitive states, the substantial difference in investment levels is frequently attributed to the ‘investor friendly governance structure’. For instance, the biannual ‘Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors Summit’ is often highlighted as an example of the state’s proactive role in promoting investment. However its success seems to be waning in recent years. Out of the total MOU’s signed under these successive summits, the share of projects implemented and under implementation have continuously declined from about 73 % in 2003 to 13% in 2011. Moreover, the state’s share in investment intentions in terms of IEMs ( Industrial Entrepreneur Memorandum), letters of intent (LOIs )and Direct Investment Licences (DILs) has declined from early 20’s in percentage in  2005 to less than 10 % in 2011.  A slowdown in overall investment climate, saturation of best investment opportunities and a more realistic assessment of the ‘efficiency’ of the state administration – are all posited by Sood as the possible explanations behind this decline in both investment and output growth in the most recent years. So the sustainability of even the much vaunted higher growth rates and investment flows has increasingly become suspect. To put it another way: the investors are also suspicious of the sustainability of returns.

Whose developmental vision is it anyway?

Far more damning is what the book reveals about the growth story itself.  It shows how the state renounces any responsibility of ensuring growth with equity when it relies entirely on the play of the market forces and on private investors to meet its development needs. As Sood points out, In Gujarat this has entailed that the investor is no longer just the source for resources but the one who determines the priorities of  development and this has had serious consequences for the sustainability and distributive justice of the entire growth process. The path of growth, its trajectory, is not defined by the state, or any planning body of economists; it is decided by investors, financial institutions, and corporate firms. The book shows how the economy of Gujrat has been given over to the corporates. They invest in it and they also sing all the praises of the development model.                                  

37% of the total investment in Gujarat in the last two and a half decades has been in infrastructure development. The state’s infrastructure development strategy involves two basic components: 1)promoting private intergrated investment to develop ports, rail, road and power sectors and 2) developing large enclaves for industrial and service sector growth as ‘greenfield sites’ with world class infrastructure.  In all cases this is sought to be done through massive concessions, rebates, subsidies and even direct handing over of financial control over revenues to attract the private sector.  These include initiatives like the Investor Support Systems (ISS), the Public Private partnership (PPP) model, establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and Special Investment Regions (SIRs) to create ‘world class infrastructure’  and several mega projects (units with minimal investment of 1000 crores in core industrial sectors and 5000 crores in infrastructure projects). The 2009 industrial policy of the Gujarat state locates these initiatives within a larger central government framework to create Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), utilizing its coastal proximity and geographical location within this project.  The DMIC plan itself is full of references to setting up industrial areas and infrastructure in Greenfield sites at Dhar, Pune, Alwar, Surat, Rewari and Muzzafarnagar and is integral to Gujarat’s own infrastructure and development strategy.

So what’s the big problem over here? – the same as with all such green field projects which instead of strengthening infrastructure where it is needed , prefer to establish development  enclaves  neglecting existing human habitations, with serious implications for equity and huge environmental and human costs. For instance, the DMIC plan on groundwater indicates that Gujarat would have to allocate water for industrial uses by diverting water away from irrigation and domestic purposes. Further, the plan envisages migration figures of 94 million workers by 2039. But nowhere in its sweeping grandeur does the plan state how the consequent multiplication of urban demand for scarce water and other resources would be met, how would the water be distributed and who would pay the price ? But the answers are not difficult to guess.

In implementing this development strategy Gujarat has sought private investment across the board. Key sectors – traditionally held to be the preserve of the state – such as ports, roads, rail and power have been handed over to corporate capital. This has meant, inevitably, that the government has abdicated all decision making powers, as well as functional and financial control over such projects. Nowhere else in the country has this abdication of responsibility been so total, nowhere else has the state given over the economy so entirely to the corporates and private investors. For instance, the BOOT (Build Own Operate Transfer) policy initiative for port development involves royalty holidays instead of revenue sharing, permission to investors to adjust royalty against capital costs, freedom to developers to collect charges and tolls, land acquisition for private investors, 30 year window to make profits, special arrangements of forward linkages to private consortiums and SIRs and so on. The policy   restricts  the role of government to minimum and allows complete operational and tariff freedom to the investor. Not surprisingly, Gujarat leads the country in terms of private investment flows in projects implemented and underway for port development. Private initiative is similarly promoted in case of development of roads and railways under the PPP mode. Most of the investment in expanding the communication networks has gone into  improving access of new ports, SEZ’s and SIR’s falling in rural areas, with most connectivity gains from the vantage point of human habitations coming from Central funds (under PGSY). Similarly the upgrading of 630 km of rail tracks from narrow gauge to broad gauge has also meant improved rail connectivity to ports.

Again in the case of the power sector, huge concessions in terms of tariff and transfer of operational control to private sector through legislative changes has resulted in substantive private investments in power plants and a 34% increase in overall power generation. But this has been achieved largely through an increase in the capacity of private captive power plants for industrial use. The power tariff structure also favors commercial and industrial use over agriculture when compared with national averages. Thus, as Sood points out:

“Road and rail expansion is less focused on increasing access of human settlements  but more about improving and strengthening access to SEZ’s and minor ports… In addition the private investment in infrastructure is dovetailed and integrated with the industrial corridor, which in itself is suspect in terms of gains it will bring to the local people and its implications for groundwater in water scarce regions… Gujarat seems to have internalized the two falsehoods mentioned earlier, to turn to private sector for addressing infrastructure and second to give preference to ‘Greenfield sites’ rather than address the aggregative challenges of infrastructure inadequacy.”

Of Corporate Agriculture, Landgrabs and Capital Intensive Manufacturing

And rife in this story is the speculation in land fuelled by legislative changes brought about ostensibly to promote infrastructural and agricultural development. Sucharita Sen and Chinmoyee Malik’s chapters map the increasing emphasis on corporatization of agriculture which has made agriculture a highly profitable activity with an average growth two-and-a-half times faster than the national average. Improved market access, technological dissemination, infrastructure development and a filip from the growth in other areas, have all contributed to this growth. However its distributive effects largely depend on land ownership and land use patterns and small farmer participation in high growth crops.  It also comes with crop specific and area specific challenges thrown in by a growth driven by privatization and liberalization of agricultural procurement, pricing and marketisation policies. There has been a shift in cropping patterns away from food to non-food and high value crops in terms of acreage, output and value. Data on land allocation and farmer participation reveals that cotton cultivation and high value crops have benefited large farmers disproportionately. If we look at farmer groups by land size, in Gujrat, the number of households of the smallest farmer group has increased, but not the acreage they control, while the largest farmer groups have gained in acreage, indicating worsening inequalities. This is contrary to the trend at the all-India level. The position of STs and SCs has also deteriorated overall except in case of SCs in the highest income size class leading to a rise in intra-caste inequalities within the latter. While incidence of landlessness has reduced overall (though starting from a much higher initial base as compared to national averages), it has increased in tribal areas ( in particular in Panchmalal, Dahod and Dang regions ). These also happen to be the most underdeveloped regions in the state lying largely outside the loop of the recent agricultural growth.

These changes could be indicative of worse times ahead given the recent modifications and amendments in land legislation. The rise in overall profitability of agriculture comes with a shift in land policy from ideas of ‘ Land to the tiller’ (a legacy of the post-independence era uptil the days of the KHAM alliance) to those of ‘land de-regulation and liberalization’ over the past two decades. As has been widely documented, even the earlier phase of land reform policies (land ceilings, surplus distribution etc) had come in Gujarat with measures like a complete ban on tenancy which led to the middle peasantry benefitting at the cost of lower peasantry and dalit farmers. Progressive measures over time, such as the Jinabhai Darji Commision suggestions through a KHAM alliance initiative in the early 1980s, never took off in the state. Now, with rapid upward mobility of the same peasantry in this story of privatization and liberalisation, the stakes in land have risen and legislative changes relating to land use which began under BJP-Janata alliance reflect the changing power dynamics and new ground realities (this includes the lifting of the 8-kms ban on land purchase and allowing non-local, non-farming groups to enter the rural land market). These have been brought in under the pressure of the rich farmer/agro-industrialist lobbies – who wanted speculative gains from land markets in the Narmada Valley Projects’ proposed command area – and the demands of builder lobbies for land for non-agricultural purposes. The policy shifts were consolidated and further strengthened under Modi’s regime by 2005. Legislative measures under his regime also facilitated the transfer of village commons and wastelands for private use, displacing marginalized communities who lost their de facto and de jure rights over pastoral lands. As sociologist M. Levein points out, the idea of Greenfield sites combined with the privatization of land within the SEZs, has together been responsible everywhere for ‘a thinly guised land grab for urbanization by the private sector’. Nowhere has this been more manifest than in the case of Gujarat.

If we turn to the experience of industrialization we have another story of skewed development. As the chapter by Sangeeta Ghosh brings out, manufacturing also witnessed high growth rates in Gujarat. In recent decades, the share of manufacturing within the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP), has been higher in Gujarat when compared to national averages as well as other high performing states. Yet at the same time, if we look at employment, the picture is the reverse. In Gujarat the share of the manufacturing sector within total employment is below the national average and has been declining rapidly overtime. Growth has been highly capital intensive in nature and concentrated in some sectors, incomes and regions. It favours the more developed regions and has weak backward and forward linkages between the unorganized and the organized sectors. There has been a shift away from the employment generating textile sector to refined petroleum, petrochemicals, chemical, metal and fabricated products marked by very high capital intensities.  This shrinks opportunities for ancillarization and sub-contracting and has also raised serious concerns about its environmental impact. Significantly, this growth trajectory links well with the infrastructure story in several ways. For instance, the need for proximity of well developed ports helps in the case of petroleum and chemical industries given their high import content, and surplus power generation the state fosters comes in handy for  the highly energy intensive metal related industries.

So the story of corporatization of agriculture and the growth of selective capital intensive manufacturing completes the loop of Gujarat’s recent growth experience. Along with the tale of ports, roads, rail and power, this turns out to be a fable ‘of the private investor, by the private investor and for the private investor’. What about the average citizen then? And where do the workers, the underclass, the poor, the tribals and other minority groups figure in this haven for investors?

On Jobless Growth, Widening Inequalities and Social Exclusion

As it turns out, their story is integral to understanding the missing pieces of this puzzle.  To begin with, the chapter by Ruchika Rani and Kalaiyarasan map the stagnant and socially discriminatory employment conditions that persist in this period of high output growth.  There has been a significant mismatch between sources of income and employment leading to low employment elasticities of output and ‘jobless growth’. Employment growth in manufacturing and services turned negative in the last 5 years. Whatever growth in employment occurred in the last decade was largely in the category of casual- and self-employment indicative of rising informalisation. There were sharp regional differences in employment outcomes with rural Gujarat experiencing negative growth rates in the last five years.  Employment was also unevenly spread across social groups and minorities. Upper caste hindus and a small proportion of SCs had a proportionately large share in regular employment within manufacturing and services, with most of the rise for SCs in services being in casual employment. Meanwhile OBC’s, Muslims , other minorities experienced a shift towards traditional sectors when growth was located in modern capitalist structure, indicating a stagnation and even a worsening of their employment conditions. The share of STs in Industrial employment had risen in the earlier decade, but it declined rapidly in the last five years. This decline was absorbed by the agricultural sector at a time when growth was shifting to the Industrial sector, indicating possibly ‘distress migration’ to agriculture.

Where measures of income, poverty and inequality are concerned, despite its spectacular growth, Gujarat’s performance has been average as compared to national averages and it lags behind competing states like Tamilnadu, Maharashtra and Haryana on different counts. Certain features stand out in the chapter by Nidhi Mittal who maps the changes in average per capita consumption expenditure, and calculates the Gini coefficient and headcount ratios for Gujarat. First, the earlier decade 1993 to 2004-05 compared better than the last five years of the decade ending 2010, and these were the years when Narendra Modi’s  ‘growth and development’ agenda was unleashed fully. Second, urban inequality has risen much more at a time when most of the rise in growth rates and per capita expenditure is located in urban areas.  This implies opposing trends in terms of rise in consumption levels and rise in inequalities of income in areas of high growth, questioning the dynamics of the recent growth process itself.

This assumes further significance given the increasing gap in average consumption levels between Hindus and Muslims over 2005-10 in urban areas. Also while urban poverty levels for Muslims stagnated, those for Hindus declined by around 4 percentage points. Again, while per capita expenditure grew by 2.5 % p.a in the last five years, the increase for STs was a mere 0.14%, with an exponential widening of gap in growth rates of per capita income levels between STs and the rest. In urban areas poverty has increased for both SCs and STs while rural poverty has declined.  However the extent of poverty for STs in rural areas is still two-and-a-half times higher as compared to others . While overall poverty for SCs as a group has declined and they seemed to have gained more than STs, intra group inequalities within SCs have again risen substantially.

Privatising Health and Education the Gujarat Way

Change in the quality of life is always indicative of the nature of economic development. Nowhere is this reflected more clearly than in the case of improvements in health and education, as brought out in the chapters by Sourindra Ghosh and Sandeep Sharma. As Sood points out , these estimates are significant in their ability to  capture the influence of a wide array of factors such as quality of food and water, the quality of housing and clothing, ability to earn livelihoods, household decision making, social and health outcomes in any population group. Not surprisingly, in keeping with the larger development vision, the roots of Gujarat’s experience lie in an unswerving faith on the private sector even in these areas where today even ardent advocates of free markets would tread with care.  Accordingly, the share of expenditure in development, health and education in total NSDP has been falling continuously over the past decades. This is also reflected in lower access to and utilization of government services and a move towards private service providers with rising per capita health and education expenditures.

In terms of aggregate health parameters – such as Infant Mortality Rates (IMRs), male and female life expectancy, vaccination and antenatal care –  Gujarat has experienced very average performances vis-a-vis national estimates. In most cases it compares unfavorably with other high growth states such as Tamilnadu, Haryana, Maharashtra over the past decade despite leading them in terms of growth in per capita GDP. What is worrying is that it lags behind even national averages in IMRs and under-five mortality, as well as in the mortality rates for women and people in rural areas. This obviously affects poorer sections disproportionately and social disparity in health has had a more regressive impact on health indicators for the marginalized, in particular the STs.

Again where education is concerned, average figures do not tell the full story. The figures for average literacy levels in Gujarat are higher than the national average.  But its ranking in terms of literacy levels has deteriorated between 1999-00 and 20007-08, and fewer children in the age group of  6-14 attend school in Gujarat than the numbers suggested by the national average.  For the same age groups – i.e  for above primary and secondary school education –  the access of women, SCs, STs, Muslims and other minorities is again lower than the national averages, and markedly behind those of comparable states. While Gujarat has experienced higher rates of decline in share of state expenditure on education than national averages, the proportion of people dependent on government aided and government and local bodies run institutions is higher or the same, much more so in rural areas, indicating that the far costlier private-sector-run institutions were unable to substitute the educational needs of people at large. This brings out a clear mismatch in government’s policy to rely on and encourage unaided private sector in education and the people’s capacity to afford the same.

Economics of Growth and the Political Culture of authoritarianism

So what does the Gujarat Model have to offer to the people of Gujarat and the country at large ? To begin with, Gujarat’s success story is crucially linked to its history, its people’s entrepreneurial skills, its farmers, its globally recognized and gifted artisans and the legacy of a social reform and cooperative movement which wove together many of these strengths within its social fabric. This history along with a favorable geographical location provided a strong base for the recent growth experience in terms of human capital, social infrastructure and natural advantages. On its own terms, it remains questionable if even this limited success achieved could be replicated or extended as a ‘growth model’, and whether the policy assumption ‘one size fits all’ can offer solutions to problems of the rest of India, with its regional specificities, and the diversity of the historical growth trajectories which exist elsewhere. This is something Modi’s urban middle-class following seems blissfully unaware of in its mooting for the ‘new messiah’ of development on the horizon.  Especially at a time when even the future trajectory of this story itself is in serious doubt, given that most recent estimates suggest a petering out of existing growth rates and the setting in of an investment inertia.

More significantly, as Sood points out, even this limited success story is questionable in terms of its desirability for Gujarat’s own development trajectory. The painstaking analysis in the book reveals how the regime of governance unleashed in the last decade has at its heart an unabashed dependence on the private sector, and state support and policies prioritizing growth in infrastructure and investment aimed at strengthening the requirements and profitability of the private investor. The developmental model has meant neglect of human habitations and needs of ordinary citizens in improving access through rail, ports, road for Industry, SIRs, SEZ’s; promotion of selective and capital intensive manufacturing  growth; jobless growth and falling share of wages in total income; corporatization of agriculture, neglect of small farmer and privatization of village commons; legislative changes in land-use norms reinforcing speculation in land; neglect of public policy and expenditure and a misplaced dependence on private initiative to even address inadequacies in social infrastructure. All of which is manifest in deeply exclusionary social and economic outcomes as reflected in extensive environmental degradation, widening regional disparities, neglect of the rural sector and increased marginalization of workers, women, STs, Muslims and minorities in social and economic outcomes within the state. The book then offers us a damning indictment of this path to development.

As Atul Sood concludes, the roots of these uneven outcomes lie in the ‘ neoliberal framework’ within which  this  development  trajectory itself is located, which ‘inherently negates the possibility of a level playing field.’    However, while the social and economic manifestations brought out in this study are the classic hallmarks of the ‘market led’ path to development , they have been renewed in the last decade in Gujarat with a zeal stamped all over by Narendra Modi’s authoritarian style of governance itself. In crucial ways it  represents a fundamental shift away from Gujarat’s own history of Gandhian humanism, liberal welfare programmes and democratic social engineering of the KHAM ( an experimental alliance between Kshatriyas, Harijans, Adivasis and Muslims in the 1980s) days.

It might be illustrative to conclude with a reference to the mention of industrial unrest in Sood’s introduction over here. Where workers are concerned, the state witnessed not merely jobless growth but also the lowest share of wage income in total income, one of the highest use of contract workers in organized manufacturing and rising trends of casualisation of workforce.  Not surprisingly, Gujarat topped the list as the  ‘worst state’ for labour unrest in the Economic Survey 2011, witnessing the maximum incidences of strikes, lockouts and other forms of unrest on various financial and disciplinary grounds (wage and allowances, bonus, personnel, discipline and violence) at a time when these were actually declining in the rest of the country. At the same time, investors and industrialists from  all over, be it Maruti or Tata, are vying with each other to shift their production  plants and activities to designated sites within Gujarat. Under such circumstances, an investment boom and Industry’s soaring confidence in Modi government’s ability to control any undue disturbance by establishing the ‘rule of law’ is indicative of the crucial link between the ‘Gujarat Development Model’ and, what some might see, as the totalitarian roots of Modi’s governance regime.

Parita Mukta has traced the genesis of this rule of law in Gujarat right from the times of resistance to development projects like Narmada Valley Project. She brings out how this acquired a distinct flavour with the invocation of the river goddess to reinforce the visions of grandeur and prosperity for the rich farmers and industrialists of the state in the preachings of RSS idealogues (“Worshipping Inequalities-Pro-Narmada Dam Movement” Economic and Political Weekly October 13, 1990)

During Narendra Modi’s regime, it has all come together as never before in a self fulfilling prophecy of an effective, pro- corporate, investor-friendly governance build on consolidating a ‘political culture of authoritarianism’, a ‘brash pride to demonstrate, brute force’, and a belief in  ‘worshipping inequalities’. This package is marketed to us via powerful media and advertising giants like APCO worldwide which counts dictators and global Investment firms as its clients. See for example Aditya Nigam on Spin Doctors and the Modi Make-over, and Binoy Prabhakar on how an American Lobbying Company markets Modi.

Gujarat’s development experience thus suggests the deep authoritarianism that made specific aspects of the recent growth experience possible is not so delinked from its fascist manifestations in spectacular forms of violence against religious minorities, scheduled castes and tribes and lower castes that the state has witnessed in its recent past.

Shipra Nigam is a Consultant Economist with Research and Information Systems (RIS) for Developing Countries

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Biometrics programs for the developing world could put data in the wrong hands #Aadhaar #UID

Privacy for the Other 5 Billion

Western-backed biometrics programs for the developing world could put data in the wrong hands.

By  and 

Posted Friday, May 17, 2013, at 11:51 AM

An Indian villager looks at an iris scanner during the data collecting process for a pilot project of The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) in the village of Chellur, some 145kms north-west of Bangalore on April 22, 2010.

An Indian villager looks at an iris scanner for a pilot project of the Unique Identification Authority of India, or UIDAI, in the village of Chellur, northwest of Bangalore, on April 22, 2010.Photo by Dibyangshu Sarkar/AFP/Getty Images

Move over, mobile phones. There’s a new technological fix for poverty: biometric identification. Speaking at the World Bank on April 24, Nandan Nilekani, director of India’s universal identification scheme, promised that the project will be “transformational.” It “uses the most sophisticated technology … to solve the most basic of development challenges.” The massive ambition, known as Aadhaar, aims to capture fingerprints, photographs, and iris scans of 1.2 billion residents, with the assumption that a national identification program will be a key ingredient to “empower poor and underprivileged residents.” The World Bank’s president, Jim Yong Kim, effusively summed up the promise as “just stunning.”

Although few can match Nilekani’s grand scale, Aadhaar is but one example of the development sector’s growing fascination with technologies for registering, identifying, and monitoring citizens. Systems that would be controversial—if not outright rejected—in the West because of the threat they pose to civil liberties are being implemented in many developing countries, often with the support of Western donors. The twin goals of development and security are being used to justify a bewildering array of initiatives, including British-funded biometric voting technology in Sierra Leone, U.N. surveillance drones in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and biometric border controls in Ghana supported by the World Bank.

This vigorous adoption of technologies for collecting, processing, tracking, profiling, and managing personal data—in short, surveillance technologies—risks centralizing an increasing amount of power in the hands of government authorities, often in places where democratic safeguards and civil society watchdogs are limited. While these initiatives may be justified in certain cases, rarely are they subject to a rigorous assessment of their effects on civil liberties or political dissent. On the contrary, they often seek to exploit the lack of scrutiny: Nilekani recommended in another recent speech that biometric proponents work “quickly and quietly” before opposition can form. The sensitivity of the information gathered in aid programs is not lost on intelligence agencies: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Mark Mazzetti recently revealed that the Pentagon funded a food aid program in Somalia for the express purpose of gathering details on the local population. Even legitimate aid programs now maintain massive databases of personal information, from household names and locations to biometric information.

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Humanitarian organizations, development funders, and governments have a responsibility to critically assess these new forms of surveillance, consult widely, and implement safeguards such as data protection, judicial oversight, and the highest levels of security. In much of the world, these sorts of precautions are sorely lacking: For example, despite the success of information technology in Africa, only 10 countries on the continent have some form of data protection law on the books (and even those rarely have the capacity or will to enforce them).

Kenya is a good example of how these programs can go wrong. In the country’s recent election, a costly biometric voting scheme flopped, adding widespread uncertainty to an already fragile situation. The problems were manifold, from biometric scanners that couldn’t recognize thumbprints to batteries that failed and servers that crashed. As journalist Michela Wrong put it, “almost none of it worked.” With limited resources, why support expensive and often ineffective technologies like biometric voting when traditional systems often suffice? While biometrics could help clean up electoral rolls, they may very well serve to obfuscate the electoral process, as information is passed through proprietary applications and technologies, closed to public scrutiny and audit.

But the worries in Kenya extend beyond technological failure. Like many low-income countries, Kenya has historically lacked a robust program of birth registration, making public health work notoriously difficult. It also stymies the provision of education services and cash transfers to vulnerable populations. To rectify this, the Kenyan state has sought to enroll all adults in a biometric national identification scheme that aims to interoperate with various other databases, including the tax authority, financial institutions, and social security programs. According to the director of this Integrated Population Registration System, George Anyango, the government now has “the 360 degree view of any citizen above the age of 18 years.” The Orwellian language is particularly worrisome given Kenya’s lack of data protection requirements and history of political factionalism, including the ethnic violence in the aftermath of the 2007 election that resulted in the death of more than 1,000 Kenyans.

The Aadhaar project in India—a country with a history of ethnic unrest and social segregation, widespread political and bureaucratic corruption, and with no effective legislative protection of privacy—should raise similar, magnified fears. Furthermore, it’s doubtful the program could help bring about the social equality it promises. Proponents of these state registration schemes argue that a lack of ID is a key reason why the poor remain marginalized, but they risk misdiagnosing the symptom for the cause. The poor are marginalized not simply because they lack an ID, but rather because of a complex history of discriminatory political, economic, and social structures. In some cases a biometric identity scheme may alter those, but only if coupled with broader, more difficult reforms.

One of Aadhaar’s biggest promises is the opportunity to open bank accounts (which require identification). Yet, poor, marginalized Indians, even with an ID, find formal banks to be unfriendly and difficult to join. For example, the anthropologist Ursula Rao foundthat the homeless in India—even after registering for Aadhaar—were blocked from banking, most frequently for lack of proper addresses, but more fundamentally because, as she notes, biometric identification “cannot establish trust, teach the logic of banking, or provide incentives for investing in the formal economy.” Bank managers remain suspicious and exclusionary, even if an identity project is inclusive. Without broader reforms—including rules for who may or may not access identity details—novel identification infrastructures will become tools of age-old discrimination.

Another, more practical drawback is that biometric technology is particularly ill-suited for individuals who have spent years in manual labor, working in tough conditions where their fingerprints wear down or they may even lose full fingers or limbs. Even with small authentication error rates—say, the 1.7 percent that recent estimates from Aadhaar suggest—the number of failures in a population the size of India’s can be enormous. Aadhaar has already enrolled 240 million people, with plans to reach all residents. You do the math.

The growth of these systems is due in part to the lack of public education and consultation, as well as the paucity of technical expertise to advise on the risks and pitfalls of surveillance technologies. But certainly the international donors and humanitarian organizations that support these initiatives have a responsibility to critically assess and build in safeguards for these technologies. Given the enormity of the challenge facing these organizations, it is perhaps easy not to prioritize issues like privacy and security of personal data, but the same arguments were once made against gender considerations and environmental protections in development. Aid programs that involve databases of personal information—especially of those most vulnerable and marginalized—must adopt stringent policies and practices relating to the collection, use, and sharing of that data. Best practices should include privacy impact assessments and consider the scope for “privacy by design” methodologies.

As the rhetoric around Aadhaar makes clear, the promise of a quick technical solution to intractable social problems is alive and well. However, it is time to recognize that human development involves the protection of civil liberties and individual freedoms, and not blindly rush into the creation of surveillance states in the name of development and poverty alleviation. Donors and aid organizations need to remember that the other 5 billion deserve privacy, too.

 

SOURCE- slate.ocm

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#India- World Bank team faces protests in Odisha #Posco

By Express News Service – BHUBANESWAR

11th April 2013 09:05 AM IE

The protest against World Bank, which has been holding a series of consultations on environmental and safeguard policies across the country, continued in the State with people’s organisations staging a demonstration in front of a city hotel where its team is staying, here on Wednesday.

The organisations targeted the World Bank’s latest round of consultations for review of its environmental and social safeguard policies to which representatives of the State Government, corporate sector and NGOs are invited. The protestors were critical of the Bank’s impact on the State which led to proliferation of the private sector by illegally closing the PSUs in various public sectors such as education and health.

“The World Bank Group claims that it has lent around $26 billion to India between 2009 and 2013. However, this is spent through different anti-community policies, programmes and projects and have helped the corporate sectors only. Poverty has increased during this period,” said Sivaram of CPI(ML), who was leading the protests. The protestors said thousands of people have been displaced from their homes and were forced to live cattle’s life due to induced displacement and migration. The Bank’s programmes on environment have ruined the environment of Odisha while unnecessary loan for forestry sector development has put a burden on the State in terms of debt.

Lok Shakti Abhijan president Prafulla Samantra said the demonstration was part of the series of protests against the World Bank whose officials had to face the same fate by the activists on April 5 at New Delhi and April 8 at Bangalore.

The protesters slammed the NGOs saying that many profit-oriented organisations in the State are hand-in-glove with the World Bank projects and are engaged in many anti-community activities. These NGOs are also equally responsible and accountable to the people of the State, they said. Members of CPI (ML), Odisha Chasa Parivesh Surakhya Parishad, Lok Shakti Abhijan, Posco Pratirodha Sangram Samiti and Krushaka Samukhya were among others who participated.

 

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