UK to axe financial aid to India, saving £200m

 

British aid to India is to be brought to an end in 2015 in recognition of the booming sub-continent's “changing place in the world”.

The UK's controversial programme of direct financial assistance to India will be wound down over the next three years after International Development Secretary Justine Secretary announced an immediate halt to any new commitments.

The move prompted criticism from some humanitarian organisations, who warned that British aid still made a difference to the poor of India despite the country's increasing wealth.

But it will delight many Tories who have taken issue with David Cameron's continued commitment to overseas aid despite large spending cuts at home.

After 2015, UK support for India will consist of technical assistance, with the provision of development expertise which officials said would still cost about one tenth of the current programme.

But there will be no more direct aid, which has been running at £280 million a year since Ms Greening's predecessor Andrew Mitchell reduced it last year.

While aid programmes in India that are already under way will be completed as planned, no new ones will be signed off, reducing intended spending between now and 2015 by about £200 million.

Ms Greening, who took responsibility for Britain's aid budget in September, announced the change after discussions with the Indian government this week.

"Having visited India I have seen first hand the tremendous progress being made. India is successfully developing and our own bilateral relationship has to keep up with 21st century India. It's time to recognise India's changing place in the world," she said.

"It is of course critical that we fulfil all the commitments we have already made, and that we continue with those short-term projects already under way, which are an important part of the UK and government of India's development programme."

Critics of Britain's continued spending on Indian development point to the country's massive budget, which funds a space programme. Indian finance minister Pranab Mukherjee last year said the country no longer wanted or needed British aid, describing the money as "a peanut in our total development expenditure".

But Oxfam raised concern that the ending of financial aid to India may be "too hasty", warning that the scale of the poverty challenge there remained "huge".

The charity's director of campaigns and policy, Phil Bloomer, said: "We're concerned that completely withdrawing British aid to India by 2015 is too hasty. It's crucial that we don't cut off money which gives a lifeline to poor families, and a third of the world's poorest people live in India.

"Today's announcement puts the onus on both the UK and Indian governments to demonstrate how any changes to aid, and future development co-operation, puts the poorest people first.

"Despite the fact India is a country of growing wealth it is also a hugely divided country with extreme levels of poverty and inequality. The scale of the challenge remains huge, as 250 million Indian citizens go to bed hungry tonight."

Poverty campaign group One also warned against worsening "the plight of children" in India as funding is stopped.

Its Europe director, Adrian Lovett, said India still faced "major challenges". He said: "Millions of Indian people live in extreme poverty and a shocking number of children under five die each year.

"As Britain reduces aid, it must be very careful to ensure the plight of those children is not made worse. India's future is in Indian hands - and Britain must be a partner on that journey."

Melanie Ward, head of advocacy at ActionAid, said: "We are concerned about the UK Government's plans to cancel planned aid programmes in India.

"India is an example of the changing face of global poverty and a fast-moving economic landscape, but the reality is that it is a country with more poor people than in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa.

"It is precisely because of the success of aid and development that some countries are no longer low-income. Aid which is carefully targeted at the poorest and most vulnerable people in India still has the potential to make an enormous difference to millions of lives."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future