Sunday, April 1, 2012

Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn

Immortal words from an immortal movie. If you don't know where this quotation is from, click here (excusable because this was before you were born)

I am however writing about more prosaic things. Like the American nomination of Jim Yong Kim for the Presidency of the World Bank. Readers of this blog may recall that I had railed about the practice of nominating an American for the head of the World Bank and an European for the Head of the IMF here. The IMF vacancy came rather suddenly after the antics of Dominique Strauss Kahn. After some pious sermonising about how it wasn't an European stitch up, the post went to Christine Lagarde, another French person !

Now there is a vacancy coming at the top of the World Bank as Robert Zoellick is completing his term. The Americans are now wanting to stitch this up. But its the American they have nominated which is raising eyebrows. Kim who ??

Jim Yong Kim is an eminent American, no doubt. But he is an anthropologist and physician by profession. He is currently the President of Dartmouth College and was the former director of the HIV/AIDS section of the World Health Organisation. He is a highly respected figure in his circles. But he is not a banker. So what's an anthropologist going to do as head of the World Bank.

Convoluted justifications are being given. Apparently it would be good to have a "development expert" as head of the World Bank. Balderdash. Its simply America trying to make it more palatable to have their nominee as the boss. Kim is Korean by descent and is not a white man. They can even pass him as an "Asian". Its just an effective fudge to continue the tradition of stitching up. Or else a more interesting logic might have been in the mind - Bankers are too dangerous to be allowed to run the World Bank (I can begin to have sympathy for such a thought !)

There is some muted opposition to this. A Nigerian and a Colombian are standing against him, but are unlikely to have much of a chance. But the more interesting development is that nobody seems to care. Deafening silence from the chief lender to the world - China. I don't know how to say it in Chinese, but I can almost hear Hu Jintao saying "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" !