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Interests in conflict

Ian Vasquez

World Bank president James Wolfensohn has spent an unprecedented amount of time and energy reaching out to civil society. The Bank's management, however, now faces a difficult, if not impossible balancing act as a result.

Shankar Acharya, a Harvard-trained economist who recently served for eight years as chief economic adviser to India's finance ministry, puts it this way: "It's my sense that the World Bank is trying too much to be all things to all people. It has become driven by too many objectives, over the past half dozen years or so. The Bank would be more effective if it was more focused on key development objectives rather than on getting into every passing fad."

Still, Acharya believes that the Bank's contribution to development in India generally has been positive. "Both the World Bank and the IDA have played a very important role with financial assistance to India's development programme," he says.

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