On a recent field trip to northern Bangladesh, the smiles of Habibur, a young man working in a rice field under the scotching sun caught my attention. Habibur, 28, looked content amidst the wide green vista of fields.
I learned that his life had not been easy. His father died when Habibur was around four years old, and the family had no land. His young widowed mother started working as a day laborer to raise her only child. Habibur began working too in his mid-teens. Mother and son struggled, but they managed to save some money. They first bought a cow, and later Habibur leased land for rice cultivation. This is a common practice in rural Bangladesh, where the yield is divided between the farmer and the owner of the land.
In recent decades, India’s growth story has been difficult to ignore. And the Indian technology revolution, a key contributor to this growth, has been remarkable. The information technology industry contributes to nearly 9.5% of India’s GDP and is the largest private sector employer, generating some 3.5 million direct jobs, and over 10 million indirect jobs.
However, the dividends of India’s digital growth have been unevenly realized, providing lots of opportunities for improvement, including:
- Mobile penetration in India is still relatively low. India’s rural populace makes up approximately 68% of the population but account for just over 40% of its mobile users.
- India ranked 156th in the world in terms of broadband penetration (at over 19%) as per the UN Broadband Commission report released in 2015.
- Roughly nine out of 10 workers are informally employed and lack social protection. Most workers lack adequate education or skills and the educated youth faces high unemployment rates.
Public sector resources alone cannot fulfill the development objectives of many countries. Yet the capacity of private sector in the development dynamics of countries remains hugely untapped. This is felt most acutely in the delivery of infrastructure projects.
Across emerging markets, much needed economic growth is hampered by a shortage of roads, mass rapid transit systems, telecommunications, power plants, sanitation, medical facilities, and other basic infrastructure, all of which are much needed to achieve sustainable development. However, funding the multitude of projects required in emerging markets is a huge challenge for governments that face budgetary constraints and limited borrowing capacity.
These conditions are encouraging governments to consider private investment as a promising option to circumvent their resource constraints and improve the delivery of public services – in particular, through public-private partnerships (PPPs). At the same time, many governments are also discovering that forging such partnerships is fraught with a number of difficulties.
For millions of people throughout the world, a diagnosis of Chronic Kidney Disease ushers in a lifetime of dialysis treatments. A dialysis session lasts four hours, and is required two to three times a week – so these treatments are often just as logistically challenging as they are physically difficult. But the trials of treatment pale in comparison to no treatment at all, which was often the case for citizens of Bangladesh prior to 2015. That was the year the government offered its citizens dialysis services through a pioneering public-private partnership (PPP) that increased the number of dialysis machines and broadened dialysis services by adding new capacity into existing public hospitals.
I’ve worked in the area of health PPPs for many years, and have seen first-hand how patients benefit from well-structured partnerships. At IFC, our goal is to work with governments with pressing health sector needs and help them develop the right kind of partnership to deliver improved health facilities and services. Like infrastructure PPPs, health PPPs are complicated, long-term deals—but unlike infrastructure PPPs, we have the opportunity to measure results in lives. This makes our work in the field of health PPPs especially important – and rewarding.
Technological content of India’s exports
The evolution of Indian exports has not followed a “textbook” pattern. The pattern of evolution points to a dichotomy in the Indian economy – a well integrated, technologically advanced services sector and a relatively lagging manufacturing sector. The share of service exports in total exports has grown to over 32 percent in 2013 from 28 percent in 2000. On the other hand, the share of manufacturing exports in total export has declined to 67 percent from nearly 80 percent during 1990-2013.
The growth in service exports has been more rapid, resulting in the share of services exports in total exports to increase rapidly over the last decade. This can be explained by technological changes. Many services do not require face-to-face interaction, and can be stored and traded digitally. These services are called modern services. Modern services are the fastest growing sector of the global economy. This is particularly evident in India, where modern services exports account for nearly 70 percent of the total commercial services exports (compared to around 35 percent in EMs) (see Figure 1).
Successful leaders —presidents of countries, chief executives of corporations, or middle managers of counties — focus on a few priorities by deploying the right resources, reviewing progress, and unblocking constraints.
Shahbaz Sharif, the chief minister of the Pakistani province of Punjab (population 100 million) and a tireless, hard driving manager, built a 27 km mass transit system in Lahore in less than a year in 2012-13. This visible show of results, according to many observers, helped his landslide victory in the 2013 election.
Did a specialized unit deliver for the chief minister? No. Just a group of well-chosen, motivated civil servants and, of course, the impending election deadline.
What is therefore fundamentally new or useful about the current ferment in the “science of delivery”? The “delivery unit” approach can work wonders, according to Sir Michael Barber, who headed the Delivery Unit in the United Kingdom from 2001 to 20015 and has distilled his advice into 57 rules in a recent book.
Negotiators in Paris last December achieved a previously unattainable consensus among all countries — large and small, industrialized and developing — on a target for minimizing climate change.
They agreed to hold planetary warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, which can only happen by drastically cutting the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.
Adhering to the target requires a de facto energy revolution that transforms economies and societies by weaning the world from dependence on fossil fuels. The magnitude of the task means strategies and spending on a scale far exceeding previous efforts.