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October 2011

Welcoming the Globe’s 7 Billionth Person

Michal Rutkowski's picture

According to the United Nations, this child will be born in India, and statistically should be a girl. But many of India’s girls are going missing at birth, because of parents’ desire to have boys. In 2008, the number of missing girls in India increased in 2008 to 275,000 as compared to 1,000 for the rest of South Asia.

If a girl child is lucky enough to be born, she faces high female mortality in infancy and early childhood in South Asia. What causes excess mortality among girls during infancy and early childhood? One possible explanation that has received a lot of attention is discrimination by parents against girls. Certainly, in parts of the world like Afghanistan, China, northern India, and Pakistan, such discrimination is a serious problem. Studies have shown delays in seeking medical care and lower expenditures for girls. In India, despite stellar economic growth in recent years, maternal mortality is almost six times what it is in Sri Lanka.

“I Cannot Sleep While I’m in India"

Saori Imaizumi's picture

It is India’s future that keeps Mr. Kapil Sibal, India’s Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister, awake. Last week, the World Bank hosted Mr. Kapil Sibal who spoke to a 120 strong crowd about “India and the World – Lessons Learnt and Contributions Towards the Global Knowledge Economy. “ During the lively discussion chaired by World Bank’s Tamar Manuelyan Atinc (Human Development Network Vice President) and moderated by Michal Rutkowski (South Asia Human Development Director. Mr. Sibal highlighted how India can contribute to the global knowledge economy.

Mr. Sibal, a well known Indian politician, is famous for his effort in enacting the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, which provides every child between 6-14 years free and compulsory education. With so many challenging issues to be solved for education in India, I was impressed with what Mr. Sibal has implemented so far as well as his grand vision for leading the country to achieve continued growth and prosperity.

A Child's Smile is Intoxicating

Shaiza Qayyum's picture

Sometimes, the smallest of things can make a big difference in the way you think. It may be someone’s laughter, or someone’s tears, someone’s hopes, or someone’s fears.  You can’t predict that moment, and that’s the best part about it. It’s the unpredictability that makes that moment better than anything else.

This past week, I’d been really low. Being a fresh graduate applying for higher studies, I was in the ultimate state of confusion and uncertainty that is part and parcel of post-grad life. I was unsure about my opportunities, worried about my future, and impatient about every little thing. Hence, I sought refuge in one of my favourite places in the world – the oncology ward at the Children’s Hospital in Lahore. I’d spent a lot of my time with children suffering from cancer, and they’d always given me inspiration and hope.

How Can Equity & ICT Improve Maternal Health in Pakistan?

Maha Rehman's picture

"Several mothers’ life is in danger due to placenta previa at child birth however either the village is too far flung to receive medical assistance or the family refuses to let the mother seek a specialist’s help,” the lady health worker said in response to my query regarding the past month’s performance in-field.

Maternal Health Care remains a low priority concern not only amongst the rural and urban poor households in Punjab, Pakistan, but amidst the policy circles as well. In Pakistan, for every 100,000 babies born, some 260 women die during childbirth. The country is one of 11 countries that comprised 65% of global maternal deaths in 2008. Yet most maternal deaths could be prevented if a skilled practitioner attended the birth.

The solution to this problem is multi-pronged. The issue must be tackled individually at the following thresholds:

a) Quality of the Maternal Health Care Program
b) Receptivity by the public
c) Data, Research and Execution

It is evident the solution requires institutional, cultural and political changes, however is it possible to evade the long term institutional changes and usher in economic and social independence, thereby pardtially addressing the solution in the short run?

Lessons from My World Bank Expedition

Sonal Kapoor's picture

My learnings from the recently concluded World Bank-IMF Annual Meetings 2011 where I represented India as a youth delegate. I am compiling them all together as lessons I learnt and how it changed my life and rewrote my history and understanding. Forever.

Lesson #1: The world has finally started taking the youth seriously.

Over the past 10 days or so, I had seen and felt that the youth opinion DOES MATTER to the policy makers at the World Bank and IMF. In individual meetings between CSOs, Bank, IMF Staff and Executive Directors, or at the Global Development debate on jobs opportunities for all, or at the flagship event, More and Better Jobs, I have realized that our opinion is acted upon stringently. Youth at the World Bank is a respected and celebrated group. When Jeremy Mark, Deputy Chief of Public Affairs, External Relations Department, encouraged me to go ahead and speak to Ms. Christine Lagarde, MD, IMF about a concern I had on issues in low income economies, I was pleasantly surprised. Honestly, I had not expected this open door policy concept of such higher up officials taking genuine and keen interest in the concerns that a youngster would have about the street children in her country, she is working with. Simply put, this sensitivity amazed me.

It’s Simply About Being Human

Joe Qian's picture

When we first discussed the prospects of inviting youth delegates from South Asia to attend the Annual Meetings, I must admit that I was initially ambivalent. However, the launch of More and Better Jobs in South Asia was imminent and it found that the region needs to create over one million new jobs a month over the next two decades to sustain employment for young people. How could we write about prospects for this group without hearing from them? With that in mind, we asked what More and Better Jobs mean to them and received an overwhelming response; over 11,000 application views and hundreds of exceptional applicants.

When the six delegates arrived, I was quickly struck by the intelligence, passion, and honesty that emanated from the group. Additional to the fresh, bold, and articulate ideas on employment themes such as equity, skills, and governance in their essays; they all took initiative for the betterment of their own communities with significant dedication and sacrifices.

What Does More and Better Jobs in South Asia Mean?

Pradeep Mitra's picture

The Track Record

Imagine adding the population of Sweden—somewhat under 10 million— to your labor force year after year for a decade. Insist that the wage workers among them earn increasing real wages and that poverty among the self-employed decline over time. What you have just described is not quite South Asia's record on the quantity and quality of job creation between 2000 and 2010. The region has done better.

Poverty has fallen, not only among the self-employed, but among all types of workers—casual laborers who are the poorest, regular wage and salary earners who are the richest and the self-employed who are in between. This hierarchy of poverty rates among the three employment types has endured over decades. Thus improvements in job quality have occurred predominantly within each employment type rather than through movement across types. The composition of the labor force among the employment types shows little change over time. The self-employed, many of whom are in farming, comprise the largest share, reflecting the predominance of agriculture in much of the region. Casual laborers make up the second largest share in rural areas.

Surprises at the Annual Meetings!

Shaiza Qayyum's picture

Have you ever had the feeling of being overwhelmed because you got more, much, much more than what you were expecting? Well, I hadn’t, till I came for the World Bank and IMF Annual meetings.

Usually, any long, monotonous sessions would lull me to sleep, but somehow, I was wide awake in every session that I attended, despite being jet-lagged and sleep-deprived! Be it the youth capacity building session with the IMF officials, or getting a chance to mingle with the IMF sponsored youth leaders and CSOs, the learning only in the first 5 hours of the meetings was phenomenal. I must confess, my mind was boggled, and I felt a little dizzy, either due to sleep-deprivation or due to the information overload, I can’t truthfully say!

It wasn’t until the second day that things came back to normal. Maybe it was the jet lag wearing off; maybe it was the fact that all the other World Bank youth delegates had gelled in so well, as if we had known each other for ages, but there was something about the place that started feeling like home.

The Mouse that Severed the Red Tape from Guruvayoor Municipality in Kerala, India

Kalesh Kumar's picture

When 150 marriages are solemnized in a day within 60 minutes in the same venue, the challenges are not just with the brides and grooms to stick to their own soul mates, but also to the municipal authorities to keep track and issue marriage certificates in a reasonable time frame. As many Keralites located all over the world chooses Guruvayoor Temple for their marriage, delivering their marriage certificates adds to the troubles of a small municipality with less than 10 staff in the section.

On a recent visit to Kerala as part of the World Bank supported Kerala Local Government Service Delivery Project (KLGSDP), I found that in 2010 September, Guruvayoor Municipality solved the problems with marriage certificates, and opened a window of transparency and efficiency in its service delivery to the general public, through an e-governance platform. Meeting us in his current office in the Attingal Municipality, N Vijayakumar, former Municipal Secretary of Guruvayoor, took us through the journey he and a highly committed team made for bringing an e-revolution in the Municipality.