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Report to the President of the IBRD and IDA on India's Economic Development Effort, October 1, 1965

The Report to the President of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development [IBRD] and the International Development Association [IDA] on India's Economic Development Effort, also known as Bell Mission Report, was declassified in August, 2010, shortly after the World Bank’s new Policy on Access to Information went into effect on July 1, 2010. Public disclosure of this document by the World Bank, in partnership with the government of India, reinforced the Bank's role as a leader in transparency among multilateral institutions.

"This new policy constitutes a major shift in the Bank's approach to information disclosure, transparency, sharing of knowledge, and accountability,” said President Robert B. Zoellick in the foreword to the Policy.

Document of the Month

Bernard Bell, 1912-1994

The Bell Mission Report, consists of fourteen volumes, and was issued on October 1, 1965. This report was an outcome of the Bank’s mission to India headed by Bernard Bell. Mr. Bell had served as chief economist of the Export-Import Bank in the U.S., and then was employed by various consulting firms from 1953 - 1965, during which time he was engaged in a study of the coal transport industry of India. The mission's purpose was to conduct a comprehensive study of the Indian economy and advise the Bank and the partnering aid consortium on the Indian economy and its challenges.

Bell’s 1964-1965 mission to India significantly influenced Bank policies toward Indian development. During this period India was the IBRD's largest debtor and was also heavily indebted to other development agencies and governments throughout the world.

Bell's report recommended many policy changes, including the introduction of intensified agricultural production, and the devaluation of the Indian currency. In return, the mission report supported India's request for additional assistance, especially for quicker project disbursments.

Presidents Pages

Mr. Subramanian, Minister of Agriculture of India, and Mr. Woods, 1965

In December 1965, Bell joined the Bank as assistant director of the Projects Department under Vice President Siem Alderwereld. During the George Woods presidency the Bank began placing more emphasis on the impact of a project on the total economy. The Bank also became much more concerned with and involved in the overall economic policy program and performance of borrowing countries.

The Bank accepted India’s five-year planning as a framework of its development program. One of the recommendations was a change in the allocation of investment resources , i.e. a shift from industry to agriculture. Bell continued to be involved with India and was responsible for the Bank’s analysis of the Indian government’s Fourth FiveYear Plan. His study was published in the subsequent 1967 Bank report entitled “Indian Economic Policy and the Fourth Five Year Plan.” 

Report to the President of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Development Association on India's Economic Development Effort. (14 Volumes)

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This feature is produced by the World Bank Group Archives to highlight the World Bank's contributions to development.