Against the Odds: Politicians, Institutions, and the Struggle Against Poverty

Most analyses of development and poverty alleviation focus on overall economic growth and the design of particular economic programs. In contrast, this book focuses on particular leaders who launched successful efforts to help the poorest (usually rural) members of their societies, drawing attention to the consummate political skills necessary to implement even well-conceived policies. In detailed case studies, the authors examine the records of three leaders: Yoweri Museveni, the president of Uganda since 1986; Fernando Henrique Cardoso, the president of Brazil between 1995 and 2002; and Digvijay Singh, the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, an Indian state of 60 million people, between 1993 and 2003. Although the details of their approaches differed, all three men had been committed to alleviating poverty before they won high office and, once in power, engaged the poor in political decision-making -- partly to learn what the poor most wanted and partly to increase the accountability of otherwise corrupt local politicians and government officials. All three also moved to the political center, stressed the importance of private investment, and put heavy emphasis on primary education for the poor.

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