As you all know, Asian Development Bank (ADB), the multilateral bank based in Manila, Philippines, is celebrating 50 years of its establishment this year.
In the Asia-Pacific region, ADB has come up as the third largest source of financial investment, after the World Bank and Govt. of Japan. India is a founding member of ADB. From a mere total lending of $3 billion inits first decade (1966-76), ADB has grown to$123 billion dollars lending institution in the last decade.These lending were used to make mega projects across the countries, including India, resulting in serious loss of livelihood, displacement, irreversible damage caused to water, forest, land and community life wrought by its very concept of development and irresponsible and opaque investment.
The ADB actively propagated three main achievements in its 2015 Report:
The mid-term Survey of Strategy 2015 and 2020 of the ADB has however admitted that the Asia and Pacific region have been facing increasing inequalities in income and access to socio-economic opportunities. Increasing investment in infrastructural projects has failed in providing social security to the marginalized sections which includes labourers and women.
While the official celebrations of 50 years will happen in Yokohama city, Japan from May 4-7, people’s movements and other civil society organisations in India have decided to hold over 50 actions of protest in different parts of the country, challenging the narrative of ADB about the successes of their lending and highlighting the enormous damage the lending has caused to people and environment.
ADB is only one of the many international financial institutions (IFIs) promoting a distorted development model. The World Bank, its private sector arm International Finance Corporation, the newly formed Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank and New Development Bank are other multilateral development banks investing in India. Apart from that bilateral institutions like Exim banks and foreign private banks invest in projects here.
The 50+ actions during the occasion of ADB’s 50 years is an opportunity to highlight the unsustainable model of lending by these undemocratic institutions. Further, the lack of transparency and accountability of them and the immunity that they enjoy in every country they invest are issues these 50+ actions are raising.
While Peoples’ Forum Against ADB, a platform of people’s movements and civil society organisations working on the impacts of international financing, is the one coordinating these 50+ events, the actions are organised by local organisations in a manner which is relevant to them, to highlight their struggles / issues and seek transparency and accountability from IFIs.
Apart from their investments these institutions have influenced to make changes policies of the government. Privatization of commons and public services are now beyond the reach of the public and regulation by democratic institutions have been weakened. In many states basic facilities like water and electricity have been privatized, and in this ADB and other IFIs have major contribution.
Whether it is ADB/World Bank or any public sector bank of the country,all financial institutions run on public money directly or indirectly. It is hard earned money of the public which has been invested in the banks or insurance companies.The banks have in turn loaned lakhs of crores rupees of public funds to mainly private companies, at cheap interest rates, which is basically money of the public being utilized for the devastating the people themselves.
Friends,we have to demand accountability from these institutions for their irresponsible and opaque investments of our money. The 50th year of ADB is an opportune moment to spread the struggle against financial institutions, international banks and the neo-liberal economic development model in general, all of which have failed the people completely.
During the 39th Annual Meeting of ADB in the year 2006 at Hyderabad, more than 100 trade unions, NGOs, social movements came together and a parallel Summit was organised to oppose ADB’s policies. The collective effort progressed with the formation of People’s Forum Against ADB which includes many member organisations from India and other Asian countries. This year, the protest actions are spread across the country against the increasing imprints of ADB’s inequitable and unjust development model. The actions planned at different places has overwhelmingly reached over 100 which were planned initially at 50 places, some planned by NAPM friends and comrades. The support and enthusiasm that is still prevalent among the people of the country resisting the attacks of financial institutions on their life and livelihood along with other issues will only motivate us to strengthen this struggle. We need to stand by them and show our solidarity.
We believe more friends of NAPM will participate and plan this kind of protest actions and strengthen the spirit of our other comrades. Hence let us raise our voice against the increasing attack on our fundamental rights and repression supported by these financial institutions. Let us participate in the resistance at local, regional, state and national level campaigns. Share your message of resistance on Facebook and Twitter through photos and videos and let’s make IFIs accountable.