Shunning UK aid would show India’s rising confidence

September 15, 2010

Choosing to jump on its own terms than face the ignominy of waiting to be pushed, India may have politely but firmly asked the UK not to send any more aid from next year in a sign of the country’s increasing self-confidence on the global stage.

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (L) and Indian President Pratibha Patil attend their meeting at the presidential palace in New Delhi July 29, 2010. REUTERS/B Mathur

Citing whispers in London’s corridors of power that suggest the country’s Department for International Development (DFID) was preparing to radically reduce the cash sent to India, the Indian Express reported on Wednesday that Nirupama Rao, India’s Foreign Secretary, had asked the Finance Secretary “not to avail any further DFID assistance with effect from 1st April 2011.”

A DFID spokesperson told Reuters: “All DFID’s country programmes are currently under review to ensure our aid helps the poorest people in the poorest countries. No decision on future funding to India has been made and we are in close dialogue with the Government of India.” The Ministry for External Affairs were not available for comment.

Since 1998, India has received more British aid than any other country, worth over £1.5 billion ($2.3 billion) in the past five years.

If the report is true, the Indian government’s decision to end aid would signal that the country wants to be in control of its own financial affairs, rather than appearing dependent on others. It demonstrates a confident approach to international relations and an assertion that the country is able to look after itself.

Sending taxpayer funds to India has become increasingly difficult to justify for the cash-strapped British government, who have committed to cutting the country’s record deficit by 25 percent over the next five years.

National newspapers in the UK have questioned the rationale behind providing financial assistance to one of the world’s fastest growing economies.

Critics of Britain’s aid package to India have also pointed to the country’s $31.5 billion defence budget and its ambitions to join the U.N. Security Council.

Permanent Security Council members Russia and China were told by DFID in June that continuing to supply aid to them was “not justifiable”.

International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell told the Financial Times in July that as India was “roaring out of poverty”, his department would “look with great care” at its aid allocation.

And a briefing to the British parliament in late July on aid to India admitted that “the UK’s India aid programme has proved particularly controversial”, noting that “particular attention has also been drawn to India’s space programme,” which has a budget of 57.8 billion rupees ($1.25 billion) for the current financial year.

Any decision to take the bull by the horns should not be seen as a diplomatic courtesy to save DFID hand-wringing. India is now confident enough to dictate its own terms with major international players.

Is India’s reliance on other countries coming to an end?


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India could still use foreign aid especially in dealing with poverty. But it is inevitable that the UK and other western countries are going to cut their aid budgets. India is in a far better position to bear the reduction in aid than other countries and the Indian government decided to jump rather than be pushed. If the reduction in aid means that the Indian government dedicates more money for development, then things might turn out okay. Otherwise, it’ll be the poor of India who’ll suffer.

Posted by Mekeritrig | Report as abusive

India is over confident about its economy which in a impoverished country always will dwindle and where the poverty line is intentionally hidden to show a better face of the real situation of the country to the world as if the world community do not know the facts.

It is good that a country can look after itself, aid countries would be happy to see that they are relieved of the burden to some extent. Well the British government will always have a soft corner for its colonial servants especially this very country.

Posted by KINGFISHER | Report as abusive