Editorial: Aid to India still has its place

Share
Related Topics

This week, charities working with the poor in three of the most deprived states of India, mainly on elementary education and health projects, will be discussing how best to close down their operations in record time. This follows Justine Greening's decision, announced last Friday, to cut off all financial aid to India by an earlier-than-expected deadline of 2015.

If the time frame for winding up is shorter than most people had anticipated, the thrust of the Development Secretary's ruling was not unexpected. Aid to India has been a toxic topic ever since Pranab Mukherjee, now President, then Finance Minister, last year described Britain's annual-aid contribution to his country of £280m as "a peanut".

The fact that India has chosen to buy French jets over British Typhoons is another factor that has got under the skin of Tory MPs, convincing many of them that our aid is not winning us the degree of influence we deserve.

Perhaps nothing could have saved the aid line to India under those circumstances. But it seems little short of tragic that deserving projects are about to be axed in a country where several hundred million people still live in the direst poverty largely because the Indian government now considers the receipt of aid as beneath its dignity. The claim of many Tory MPs that Britain was wasting aid on India that should have gone to the poor in the UK also has a false ring to it, when one recalls that these are often the same MPs who have been clamouring for cuts to the welfare bill in Britain.

It is correct that trade rather than aid is the engine of growth in the developing world, and it is undeniable that aid, or rather the profligate and thoughtless use of aid, has in some instances fed corruption among elites, distorted local economies, and created an unhealthy culture of dependence.

At the same time, we need to remember that when it is intelligently and selectively targeted, aid has helped to empower and educate communities, minority groups especially, and to relieve immediate suffering.

In future, it is to be hoped that the sequence of events that has led to the abrupt termination of aid to India is not repeated. We should not allow prickly governments to decide whether their own poorest citizens deserve our help, however "peanut-sized" they consider that help to be. Nor should matters such as sales of jets enter into the equation.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

MBDA UK Ltd: Mission Planning and Control Solutions Systems Engineer

Competitive salary & benefits: MBDA UK Ltd: What’s the opportunity? A pro-act...

MBDA UK Ltd: System Design Capability

Competitive salary & benefits: MBDA UK Ltd: What’s the opportunity? The small...

Recruitment Genius: Production / Manufacturing Operative

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading garage door manufacturer are curr...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Software / Solution Sales

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a thri...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: the Labour leadership election hasn’t yet got to grips with why the party lost

John Rentoul
Kennedy campaign for the Lib Dems earlier this year in Bearsden  

Charles Kennedy: A brilliant man whose talents were badly needed

Baroness Williams
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific