As a young graduate in the US, Jim Yong Kim participated in a protest against the World Bank's focus on economic growth, and neglect of issues such as education, healthcare and social protection.
Today, a few decades on, he is the President of the World Bank Group. Kim is currently on a three-day visit to India, his first since taking over as president.
Addressing a press conference in New Delhi, he emphasised that economic growth was the way forward for developing countries. "Without economic growth, you can't take people out of poverty," he said during a press conference.
The World Bank Group has lent around $26 billion to India between 2009 and 2013. Kim said the assistance would continue, to the tune of $3-5 billion per annum.
On Tuesday, he visited Uttar Pradesh and met with Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. The World Bank chief pointed out that an estimated 70 million people in Uttar Pradesh live below the poverty line. That is roughly eight per cent of the world's poor population. "To end poverty in Uttar Pradesh and other states is a long term goal of the World Bank," said Kim.
Many past World Bank leaders had a financial or political background. Kim is the first president with prior experience in the healthcare sector. Perhaps it is not surprising then that his focus has largely been on healthcare and poverty. "The World Bank focuses on ways of controlling infectious diseases while also building stronger health systems that can tackle non-communicable diseases, children's health, immunisation and other important health priorities." To improve the healthcare system, Kim said he would assign a few specialists to work in India. He promised to return in a few months and discuss with officials how to best tackle the healthcare problem.
Kim met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and several other ministers during his visit. He said India would require planning and work from both the public and private sectors to plug the infrastructure gap. "Private sector growth is the engine for job creation," said Kim. He cited a 2012 World Bank study, entitled World Development Report, which says that 90 per cent of all jobs globally are created in the private sector.