World Bank to go on trial in India
17 September 2007
Community organisations across India are preparing for the Independent People’s Tribunal on the World Bank Group in India, to be held at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi from the 21-24 September 2007. It is the first event of its kind to be held in India.
India is the World Bank’s single largest cumulative borrower, having borrowed a total of approximately $60 billion since 1944. India’s current debt to the Bank is $11.3 billion.
But India has also known resistance to World Bank projects and policy. In 2005 Parivatan and the Delhi Right to Water Campaign used the Right to Information Act to prevent a World Bank-led project to privatise Delhi’s water supply. In 2006, the National Alliance of People’s Movements united with community based groups such as the United Shop-owners association to oppose the Mumbai Urban Transport Project. They succeeded in getting World Bank funding withdrawn from the project after taking their case to the World Bank’s internal review process.
The People’s Tribunal will assess the impact of World Bank policies and projects on the Indian population, environment and political system. Over the course of four days the Tribunal will hear evidence from affected groups and organisations as part of a "broad-spectrum enquiry into the World Bank... [in] a just and unbiased forum".
The Tribunal will study the impact that policies and projects promoted or funded by the Bank have had on the environment; human rights; vulnerable groups (such as women, children, dalits and indigenous populations); sectors such as food, health and education; poverty; democracy and transparency.
The Tribunal will be a formal process: grassroots organisations acting as convenors are responsible for a sector or region, and for gathering evidence from people that have been affected. This testimony and further research forms the Deposition, which the convenors will present to a jury composed of former High Court justices and eminent national and international academics, including writer and activist Arundhati Roy, political economist Susan George, and legal scholar Upendra Baxi. A press conference will be held at the Tribunal’s conclusion.
Full details about the Tribunal are at: www.worldbanktribunal.org