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Adele Simmons

The MacArthur Foundation chief explains why real development eludes India

Adele Simmons
What is your forundation's principle goal?
We are looking all over the world- India,China, Nigerai- to improve the quality of human life.

How do you seek to do that?
By funding research work and innovative projects related to environment issues, public education, population, women's health and much else. In India, in six years, we've supported 24 individuals and 80 institutions.

But has your work really had an impact on Indian public policy?
The government is thinking differently. Crucial policy changes have occurred. Our grantees go beyond mere research and services, they influence public policy.

What would you say is India's main problem?
Hunger, poverty, overpopulation. Without solving these problems, there can be no real development.

What did your book on modern Mauritius seek to convey?
That was 20 years ago. Mauritius is a model for economic development. Nobody believed that a small island country could become so strong.

Can't the Mauritius model be used in India?
In India, the scale is different. This is a much larger country. It's a pluralistic society that calls for a variety of strategies.

What is your stand on the ongoing conflict over the question of sustainable development?
The creation of appropriate infrastructure is a part of sustainable development. We are for expansion of solar energy and against large dams.

But shouldn't the developed nations take the lead in this area?
Indeed. In the US, efforts are on to reduce consumption of energy.

Is it working?
We can today swim and fish in lakes where we couldn't 10 years ago. The environment is amazingly resilient if it is treated well.

Why does the problem still persist?
People talk of the cost of solving these problems. The cost of not solving them is just as enormous. In any case, these statistics change over time, not overnight.

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