World Bank as a Knowledge Provider
In 1996, James Wolfensohn, then President of the World Bank, called for the World Bank to become a Knowledge Bank. The World Bank has always been engaged in producing knowledge. This knowledge has been produced and used to design, justify, plan and support policies, programs and projects all over the world. Wolfensohn formally recognised this 'other' side of the Bank to be as important as its financial side.
In India, the latest country assistance strategy (CAS) that defines the Bank's approach to lending for the three years 2005-08, says:

Three Strategic Principles will underpin the Bank Group's work: (i) focusing on outcomes… (ii) applying selectivity…and (iii) expanding the Bank Group role as a politically realistic knowledge provider and generator.

Creation of Intellectual Support for Privatisation and Globalisation

Why is the Bank giving so much important to the creation and provision of knowledge? Ostensibly, it is to better tackle the challenges of global poverty eradication and improving people's lives. However, there appear to be other reasons.

It is an open secret that the World Bank directly intervenes in the policy making processes of the countries to which it lends money. In the last 15 years or so, the Bank has been consistently pressurising Governments along the path of Liberalisation, Privatisation and Globalisation (LPG), forcing open more and more sectors of the economy to global private capital. Simultaneously, it has been pushing for the 'commercialisation' of these sectors, that is, the operation of these sectors along commercial lines, as a market, so as to create an enabling environment for privatisation.

All over the world, there has been massive resistance to these polices, and tremendous accumulating evidence that the policies are harming the poor and destroying the environment. The Bank is therefore increasingly being called upon to present justification for these policies. One of the most important ways in which this is done is through the use of knowledge. In effect, this is the creation of the 'intellectual' support to build up the rationale and justification of privatisation and globalisation.


Arvin Kejriwal -Delhi Water Privatization
Amit Bhaduri - Response to the World Bank
Madhura Swaminathan - World Bank and Food Security


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