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HindustanTimes Sat,20 Sep 2014

World Bank president steps into 'world of the poor'

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Kanpur, March 13, 2013
First Published: 09:54 IST(13/3/2013) | Last Updated: 10:35 IST(13/3/2013)

The district administration here made best of efforts to present a pretty picture. But the World Bank chief Dr Jim Yong Kim was obviously not moved. What touched him instead was the rampant poverty that he saw everywhere.

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"People here are extremely poor. They don't have access to clean drinking water, roads, sanitation and electricity," he said after visiting a Gwaltoli slum in Kanpur. "They (the people) struggle for two morsels of bread," he added.

Kim was in the city on Tuesday as part of his endeavour to help India and Uttar Pradesh fight extreme poverty, boost shared prosperity and help in making urban centres more livable.

Shunning his motorcade, he chose to walk straight into the slums and was swayed by the plight of the people.

Assuring the underprivileged of all assistance, Kim appeared dissatisfied with the use (read diversion) of funds released by the World Bank for poverty alleviation. He said the utilisation of the financial help would be reviewed.

He also expressed his displeasure at the condition of the Ganga. "I haven't seen such a big river in such bad state. It looks more like a drain than a river."

Calling for immediate measures to improve the river's health, he said all help was being extended for cleaning the river and if needed a special package could be considered. "Making it pure should be a collective responsibility."

In his six-hour long halt in the city, he first traversed the length and breadth of Dilsahri Khurd - a village in Sarsaul block that was decked up overnight. Here he had an intense interaction with villagers, particularly women.

This was followed by a visit to the Gwaltoli slums, where, amidst a shower of flower petals, he was given a traditional welcome with aarti and tilak.

"My dream is to bring happiness and end poverty. The World Bank is working on poverty alleviation and changing the living conditions of many," Kim told reporters. "I am honoured to be in Kanpur where I saw the world of the poor so closely," he added.


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