NEW DELHI — In a press release issued on Wednesday, the World Bank Group announced it would provide economic support to India and offer “knowledge resources” after World Bank President Jim Yong Kim’s three-day visit to India.
The World Bank Group, a collection of five organizations with the joint goal to end extreme poverty and promote global prosperity, will provide at least $15 billion to India over the next three years to help the world’s largest democracy achieve high growth and encourage prosperity to millions of Indians in coming years. Kim believes India is in a unique position to alleviate extreme poverty. “A large proportion of the world’s poor live in India and we will give all our support to the Government as it strives to create jobs and build prosperity for its people,” he said.
The World Bank Group’s announcement comes just a month after India’s new government announced it would pursue economic reforms to promote foreign investment in infrastructure and the energy industry. In his most recent visit to India, Jim Yong Kim focused in great detail on the government’s plans to invest in infrastructure and education. “They have identified infrastructure development and job-oriented skill development as the deep drivers of growth,” Kim said. “The World Bank Group is ready to support these development initiatives with financing, as well as knowledge and capacity building, that is informed by global experience.”
Infrastructure could help India’s poor gain easier access to urban areas that are traditionally better equipped with job opportunities and access to economic markets. India has the world’s largest share of the extremely poor, recent World Bank data finds. Four hundred million people live in extreme poverty in India—roughly one-third of the world’s total. For President Pranab Mukherjee and newly appointed Prime Minister Narendra Modi, that’s a large demographic of individuals that need income and housing.
Access to electricity has also been a barrier to job growth. Even though India’s telecommunication industry is the world’s second largest and a significant source of income for its people, consistent and affordable access to electricity has reduced the industry’s potential for growth. Quality infrastructure is also important in attracting public and private investment in any country.
Jim Yong Kim also noted access to basic education for farmers can help incentivize the rural-urban migration in a larger scale. “Giving them basic job skills and connecting them to the right employers has allowed…young people to pull themselves and sometimes their entire families, out of extreme poverty,” he said. The added value to the economy and the effect education has on social mobility are good explanations for why the World Bank Group is so invested in financing India’s educational system and the future of the country’s youth.
– Joseph McAdams