Thursday, 15 July 2010

Ending aid to India

The Register reports:
Indian defence chiefs have approved $11bn of funds to boost the country's submarine fleet. The cash is intended to see India become the first non-Western nation to deploy long-touted, much feared "air independent propulsion" (AIP) submarine technology.
Meanwhile, the India Times reports:
Under pressure to reduce its foreign assistance, Prime Minister David Cameron may scale down the 250 million-pound British aid given to India annually, saying wealthy local people could do more to help their poor countrymen.

International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell has signalled that the "250 million pounds of public money spent annually on nuclear-armed India could be scaled back."

Last month, Britain, shocked by reports of massive embezzlement in India in the use of millions of pounds granted as aid for 'sarva-shiksha abhiyan', promised "zero tolerance to corruption" and launched an "immediate inquiry".
Cutting foreign aid to countries like India was the most important suggestion by voters to Chancellor George Osborne, who launched a Treasury's Spending Challenge website to ask people for ideas on where the funding cuts axe should fall.

As hundreds of suggestions poured in, the most popular was for international development funding to bear some of the brunt of the pain.

Jo Johnson, a Conservative MP and brother of London Mayor Boris Johnson, wrote in The Financial Times: "India can now fund its own development needs, considerable though they are in a country with 450 million poor. It has a defence budget of USD 31.5 billion, plans for a prestige- boosting moon-shot and a substantial foreign aid programme of its own".

He added: "India is not China; but as a claimant to a permanent Security Council seat and a place at the top table of world affairs, it is also no longer a natural aid recipient".
It is daft that we're currently borrowing to give, and international aid would be fraught with problems even if we had no deficit and no debt. But at least the Coalition is finally looking to refocus aid on countries that struggle to provide for themselves. It is a testament to the profligacy and corruption of New Labour that aid to India was not cut off years ago.

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