Humanitarian Aid, the chicken or the egg?
Found this article about Wipro CEO Azim H. Premji in today’s NYT interesting. I had incidentally heard Premji speak earlier this week about his efforts to raise India’s education standards through his foundation. His focus is public schools.
“The Premji Foundation helps schools in states where the government has invited its participation — a choice that some educational experts criticize because it seems to ignore fast-growing private schools that teach about a quarter of the country’s students, including many of India’s poor.”
There is a question whether this helps or hurts improve the government’s responsibility, for not just public learning but governance.
“Narayana Murthy, a friend of Mr. Premji and chairman of Infosys, a company that competes with Wipro, said he admired the Premji Foundation’s work but worried it would be undermined by the way India administers its schools.
“While I salute Azim for what he is doing,” Mr. Murthy said, “in order to reap the dividends of that munificence and good work, we have to improve our governance.””
Here is what Premji said to the audience I was in: “Our country (India) operates in spite of the government.” True. It is also true, however, that there is government. Makes me wonder if the problem with development/humanitarian aid is that we treat it like the question of the chicken or the egg?