Fund game

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Several years back, I mentioned to an editor of an environmental magazine that I was associated with a project under the World Bank- sponsored India Eco-development Programme (iedp). He immediately flew into a fit of rage. "Apologise immediately in writing,' he said. "And resign immediately from iedp, else I will give you a bad press.'

At that time I was taken aback at this umbrage. And my editor friend was not alone; there were a series of articles in the national media against the programme. Having watched iedp in the Kalahad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (kmtr), Tamil Nadu from close quarters, I was left wondering if the programme would have drawn such flak if it had been funded by any agency other than "these running dogs of imperialism'.

To be sure, there were quite a few things right with the iedp. Some of the park managers involved had sufficient local standing and security of tenure to ensure that the projects were well-planned; there was also very little doubt on their managerial acumen. Besides, experts well acquainted with the project area were involved in framing out the programmes in quite a few places; in other areas, highly-trained non-government organisations' (ngos) workers implemented iedp.

So what went wrong? For one, in most cases people unfamiliar with the project area framed the programme. More importantly, people with conflicting interests