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   Tuesday, November 21, 2017
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Big leap for the young Indian American



Rajiv Shah will head USAID

Rajiv Shah, 36, has been nominated to head the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Dr Shah is currently serving as Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics and Chief Scientist at the US Department of Agriculture.

After graduating from University of Michigan, Shah earned his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Medical School and his Master of Science in health economics at the Wharton School of Business.

Prior to his engagement in policy making, he attended the London School of Economics. He has also spent a stint in advising the Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign on health care policy.

Shah was running the Gates Foundation's agriculture development program when he was tapped for the agricultural post as Under Secretary, as well as chief scientist at the USDA. Shah joined the Gates Foundation in 2001 where he worked as policy analyst and senior economist and developed an innovative program for vaccine financing. He served as director of strategic opportunities and deputy director of policy and finance for the global health program. While in Seattle, Shah served on the boards of the Seattle Public Library and the Seattle Community College District

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Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

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