Bangalore International Centre had arranged a panel discussion on World Development Report prepared by the World Bank on the theme of “Reshaping Economic Geography”. The discussion was held between 10 AM and 1.30 pm on 23 rd June, 2009 at 10 AM.
Dr. Uwe Deichmann, Senior Environmental Specialist, World Bank and Dr. M R Narayana Professor and Head, Centre for Economic Studies and Policy, ISEC were the panelists. Ms. Swati Ramanatha, Co-Founder of Janaagraha moderated the discussions.
Dr. Deichmann, in his presentation, highlighted the salient features of the Report which seeks to reframe the policy debates on urbanization, Territorial Development and Regional Integration. It was stressed that there are strong geographical and economic factors which make certain locations market-friendly and it may not be pragmatically possible to artificially replicate those factors in other less favourable locations. Thus, economic growth would necessarily be unbalanced and to try to spread out economic activity all over less market-friendly places would in effect be both unrealistic and counter-productive. WDR goes on to suggest that economically successful nations facilitate the concentration of production in favourable locations and simultaneously institute policies that make the living standards of the people – in terms of nutrition, education, health, housing and sanitation – more uniform across space. Getting the benefit of both economic concentration and social convergence necessarily involves policy actions aimed at economic integration.
In the lively interactive session that followed many speakers pointed out that the prescriptive unipolar approach of the World Bank may not necessarily hold good everywhere and that this may be particularly difficult in a politically multipolar and diverse democracy like India. The quality of the discussion and interventions was uniformly high. The Director of BIC welcomed and thanked all the discussants and participants.