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February 2014

Rishikesh Kumar: Best Grassroot Innovator

Onno Ruhl's picture
Rishikesh, Best Grassroot Innovator has made a hearing aid out of electronic waste“What is that, on this side?” the Chief Minister asked.  “It is the earphone connector of an old cellphone Sir” Rishikesh said. “What do you use it for?” the Chief Minister asked. “It is like the ear Sir”, Rishikesh said, “It is where the sound enters”.

I was standing behind the Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar of Bihar, and I was amazed as he seemed to be. This young man from a village in Bihar had actually made a functioning hearing aid using electronic waste. He even designed his own Styrofoam cutter to quicken the production process. And the cost of the hearing aid is only 75 rupees ($1.20)! The cutter costs a few dollars only.

Nitish Kumar was making a tour of the Innovation Expo at the Bihar Innovation Forum (BIF). For me, Rishikesh was clearly the most amazing talent, but there were good innovations in many, many areas. Recycling groundwater for irrigation, thus slowing the depletion of scarce groundwater resources; using rice husks to generate electricity in the village; an Internet platform that allows small investors to contribute to grassroots loans; a platform to harness traditional culture to create jobs; I could go on.

The BIF is organized by Jeevika, Bihar’s flagship livelihoods program, which has empowered over a million women already and connected them to banks. I am proud to say that the World Bank is a long term supporter of both Jeevika and BIF.

Many people associate innovation in India with big cities like Bangalore and Chennai. Bihar decided seven years ago to see what innovation can come from its villages. This year they looked again, not only within Bihar but across India and found innovative rural solutions from 16 states. And it does not stop at a forum. The Chief Minister announced the same day that Jeevika will create an Innovation Center to support the grassroots innovators with handholding and technical assistance and to make sure that what works gets scaled up in many villages. This could transform the rural landscape!

The Global Economy Without Steroids

Sri Mulyani Indrawati's picture
Economic growth is back. Not only are the United States, Europe, and Japan finally expanding at the same time, but developing countries are also regaining strength. As a result, world GDP will rise by 3.2% this year, up from 2.4% in 2013 – meaning that 2014 may well be the year when the global economy turns the corner. The fact that advanced economies are bouncing back is good news for everyone.

Swiss Pass the Referendum “Stop Mass Immigration”

Hanspeter Wyss's picture

After a bitterly contested campaign a small majority of 50.3 percent of Swiss voters have passed the referendum “Stop Mass Immigration”  reintroducing quotas on immigration from EU countries. This vote on February 9 mobilized 56 percent of Swiss voters, which was one of the highest turnouts for the last 40 years. 

The referendum was expected to be close. That it has passed, however, is a surprise because the Swiss government as well as most business actors and political parties, except the national-conservative right wing Swiss People Party which launched the referendum, were campaigning against it. It is hard to generalize the reasons that explain the result of this vote, especially as there were significant geographical disparities in voting behavior across Switzerland (see map).  French-speaking areas against the referendum, German-speaking regions divided, and the only Italian-speaking canton firmly in favor of it.  And the cantons with the largest cities (Zurich, Geneva, and Basel) were all against the quotas.

Slow Growth in Middle East and North Africa Calls for Bold Approach to Economic Reforms

Shanta Devarajan's picture
video

Shanta Devarajan, World Bank Chief Economist for the Middle East and North Africa region, discusses the latest issue of the Quarterly Economic Brief.

What is the role of universities in global development?

Michael Crow's picture


In my career as an educator, social scientist and university president, I have worked primarily as an organizational designer and architect. And in doing so, I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to study how universities and other organizations are structured, how decisions related to their design can shape their visions and accomplishments, and how organizations can work together as partners to achieve more than they could alone.
 
It is my belief that, as the pace and complexity of our global society increases exponentially, there is an urgent need to realign the design and infrastructure of education with the needs of the people our educational systems are intended to serve. While universities have long been vital and powerful drivers of global innovation and economic development, they must now be willing to break free from outmoded paradigms if they hope to continue achieving meaningful progress.  

Art of Service Delivery: Learning from Faith-inspired Health Care Providers

Quentin Wodon's picture


In this clinic we are accommodated well and treated respectfully… We have the opportunity to converse with the health worker, describing the illness, and when we are mistaken or do not understand, we are not threatened. They help us locate the pain and they explain everything about the disease and how to treat it. They encourage us to speak and they try to give us confidence. –Patient in Burkina Faso

Kenya Soil Carbon Project Points to the Future

Neeta Hooda's picture

 Curt Carnemark/World Bank

A few weeks ago, we passed a big milestone in the World Bank Group’s climate change and development work. For the first time, small-scale farmers earned carbon credits from an agricultural land management project.

The project in western Kenya kicked off what will surely be many more soil carbon projects in coming years. It also shows how sustainable farming (such as increased mulching and less tilling) can be part of the global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – while improving livelihoods for poor, rural families.

The soil carbon project, made possible by an accounting system for low-carbon farming approved in 2011, took several years to prepare and implement. I had the fortune to be right there, working with farmers on the ground in Kenya and trying to understand their reality.

Islamic Finance: A Quest for Publically Available Bank-level Data

Amin Mohseni-Cheraghlou's picture

Attend a seminar or read a report on Islamic finance and chances are you will come across a figure between $1 trillion and $1.6 trillion, referring to the estimated size of the global Islamic assets. While these aggregate global figures are frequently mentioned, publically available bank-level data have been much harder to come by.

Considering the rapid growth of Islamic finance, its growing popularity in both Muslim and non-Muslim countries, and its emerging role in global financial industry, especially after the recent global financial crisis, it is imperative to have up-to-date and reliable bank-level data on  Islamic financial institutions from around the globe.

To date, there is a surprising lack of publically available, consistent and up-to-date data on the size of Islamic assets on a bank-by-bank basis. In fairness, some subscription-based datasets, such Bureau Van Dijk’s Bankscope, do include annual financial data on some of the world’s leading Islamic financial institutions. Bank-level data are also compiled by The Banker’s Top Islamic Financial Institutions Report and Ernst & Young’s World Islamic Banking Competitiveness Report, but these are not publically available and require subscription premiums, making it difficult for many researchers and experts to access. As a result, data on Islamic financial institutions are associated with some level of opaqueness, creating obstacles and challenges for empirical research on Islamic finance.


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