The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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PARIS—Doctor Halsted, Anna, Nina and I spent one morning in with Mr. Thomas Power Jr., who is the United Nations Resident Representative there, coordinating the work of the various U.N. agencies. Iran has next-to-the-largest program in the world dealing with technical assistance from the U.N., so it is a good place to evaluate the work of the specialized agencies.

The men sitting around the room were an impressive-looking group—fine faces, strong personalities, and for the most part they were men who knew many parts of the world, for they came from 17 different nations. Mr. Power told me afterward that one of the strengths of the U.N. program was the fact that they could call upon the knowledge and skill of so many different nationalities.

Mr. Power had a number of Americans in his group, but often a Pakistani or a Dutchman or a Dane could meet particular situations better than an American might be able to. He also told me that Iranians had been very clever in preparing programs and submitting them to the U.N.

Being a nation of many resources, Iran is getting much help from the U.N. in finding ways to help expand and accelerate what would otherwise have been done more slowly. The U.N. provides the kind of technical knowledge that can only be achieved by bringing together training and background from many nationalities.

One of the projects is to map out the whole country as to its terrain and as to its resources, such as iron, coal and sand. These studies help in planning roads, in the development of a railway system, and even in the development of aviation routes. For a long time, I think, aviation will be the only means of travel and communication in Iran, despite the fact that it is such a mountainous country. The forests that are left are practically inaccessible, but they have been mapped and plans are being made to build roads so that lumber will become a marketable crop in the future.

There is also activity being carried on in a small way by the U.N. and in a much larger way by the U.S. Point 4 program to develop administrators and clerical help on every level. Records, for instance, have never been kept before, either in business or in government, nor in health and vital statistics. And workers have to be trained in order to improve the railways and a signal system on them. Only a short time ago a railway journey was a hazardous undertaking because signals were nonexistent.

The study of the Iranian people, their traits and characteristics, is not listed as one of the projects, but actually it was to be taken into consideration in all projects. For instance, several times in describing the development of small industries and a need for trained workmen, I heard the remark: "The Iranian is an individualist. He wants to do things his own way, but if you can convince him that you are offering something better he will follow your plans."

One man told me of having designed a new factory, which would have better working conditions and which would make it possible to produce more rapidly. He had had little hope for acceptance of his plan and none was held out to him, but within a year the new factory was built.

This is certainly an indication that all these men are working well together and fascinated by what they are able to achieve. They are frustrated at times, for want of a little more money for this or that, but on the whole they are a dedicated group of people who will do much to help the development of Iran.


(Copyright, 1959, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Paris (France) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, March 31, 1959

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.