The Impetus of Development Assistance: A New Trajectory

Sonipat, Haryana, India: 

  • Scholars from across India and the world debate on issues of public policy and development assistance
  • Two day forum is jointly organized by the Jindal School of Government and Public Policy (JSGP) and the International Development and Public Policy Alliance (IDPPA)

The Washington Consensus is a set of 10 economic policy prescriptions considered to constitute the “standard” reform package promoted for crisis-wracked developing countries by Washington, D.C.–based institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, and the US Treasury Department. It was coined in 1989 by English economist John Williamson. The prescriptions encompassed policies in such areas as macroeconomic stabilization, economic opening with respect to both trade and investment, and the expansion of market forces within the domestic economy.

Discussions of the Washington Consensus has long been contentious. Partly this reflects a lack of agreement over what is meant by the term and the contrast between the broader and narrower definitions, but there are also substantive differences involved over the merits and consequences of the various policy prescriptions involved.

To provide a platform for exchanging the latest insights in both theory and practice, and to explore the interactive relations between global development scenarios and their stakeholders, the Jindal School of Government and Public Policy (JSGP) at the O.P. Jindal Global University (JGU) hosted a conference on “Beyond the Washington Consensus: Public Policy and the Future of Development Assistance” between 22-23 November 2015, in cooperation with the International Development and Public Policy Alliance (IDPPA).

The forum aimed to focus on and address two broad sets of issues: first, what can each country, on its own, do to enhance sustainable, stable, equitable, and democratic development? And how should the global economic architecture be changed to make the global economy more stable, to promote equity among countries, and to enhance the ability of developing countries to pursue their objectives.

Speaking at the conference Dr. Shashi Tharoor, Member of Parliament Lok Sabha and former U.N. Under-Secretary General for Communications, expressed optimism on the growth and direction of the Indian economy, and said corruption, power shortage and red tape-ism were some of the challenges that it had to overcome to grow faster.

Stating that the focus of government should be on macro- rather than micro-management, Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Former Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission of India, said: “The Government is not equipped and should not focus on micro-management; rather the focus of the government should be in bringing about smaller changes that can have the maximum spread effect.”

Professor C. Raj Kumar, Vice Chancellor O. P. Jindal Global University and Director IIHED (International Institute of Higher Education Research and Capacity Building), called for a more a nuanced understanding of the issues surrounding public policy and development assistance in the country. He said “I hope this debate and discourse will be meaningful and have a long-lasting impact as we evolve some of the most fundamental issues surrounding public policy.

Prof. Robin J. Lewis, President of IDPPA and Director of the Master of Global Public Policy (MGPP) Program at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA), said that this conference “represents an exciting and innovative contribution to the crucial policy debate on our shared global future.”

A variety of opinions were expressed by subject matter experts at the JSGP and IDPPA joint conference, which is the first of its kind in the country to deliberate matters on Public Policy and the Future of Development Assistance in an intricate manner.

“Bold measures are needed to overhaul global development finance practices and generate investments for tackling a range of economic, social and developmental challenges,” said, Dr. Ajay Chhibber, Visiting Scholar, Elliott School of International Affairs, GWU and former Assistant Secretary General, United Nations and Assistant Administrator, UNDP, while speaking on the outcomes of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.

Deliberating on the future of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that aim to eradicate poverty and hunger, improve health for all and ensure equitable quality education for all amongst their other goals, experts opined that government institutions in India responsible for driving efforts to meet the SDGs are apathetic to the global agenda.

“From my own experience of working with the government, I can say that the bureaucracy in India is not sensitive enough to pursue these global goals with all seriousness,” said Rajeev Malhotra, Professor, Jindal School of Government and Public Policy and Lead Author & Chief Editor, India Public Policy Report.

Enumerating the challenges to achieving the SDGs, Dr. A.K. Shiva Kumar, Director of the International Centre for Human Development (ICHD), said, “One of the goals listed in the SDGs is to achieve growth that is inclusive and sustainable, but how to achieve the goal has not been outlined. This is an evaluation and strategic challenge.”

“The issue of finance required to attain the SDGs is a hoax,” said Sandeep Dikshit, former Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha, while comparing the amount of money the government spends on the salaries of the employees and on its own welfare with that of just one percent of GDP invested in public health. “The real concern is the gradual withdrawal of the state from the welfare schemes meant to meet the basic needs of the larger section of the population,” he said.

Scholars from across India and the world and IDPPA members from the BRICS countries, Egypt and Turkey had a unique opportunity to gauge the dynamics, challenges and realities of global development and public policy at the two-day international conference organized by the O. P. Jindal Global University.

Other distinguished speakers at the conference included: Ms. Bidisha Pillai, Advocacy Director, Save The Children; UK, Catarina Tully, Director–FromOverHere, Honorary Fellow of the Strategy and Security Institute at Exeter University; Korel Goymen, Professor Emeritus, Sabancı University, Istanbul; Prof. Alexey Verbetsky, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA); and Prof. Pregala Pillay, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa.  Prof. Bharat Dahiya of Chulalongkorn Univesity, Bangkok, Thailand and Prof. Nik Rosnah Wan Abdullah of Tun Abdul Razak University in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia also participated.

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