Editorial: Less aid to India must mean more sent elsewhere

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The Independent Online

Justine Greening is supposed to have told the Prime Minister, when he made her Secretary of State for International Development in September: "I didn't come into politics to distribute money to people in the Third World."

In a way, that was just what this newspaper wanted. We support the ambition of successive British governments to devote 0.7 per cent of national income to the sustainable alleviation of poverty around the world. However, there is no hope of achieving and keeping to the target unless public opinion is mobilised behind it. And on that, David Cameron and Ms Greening's predecessor, Andrew Mitchell, have been less effective.

It may take someone who seems to be sceptical of international aid to make the case in favour to a doubtful public. In which case, Ms Greening has done a good job in announcing – or reannouncing with added detail – that aid to India will be reduced immediately and ended by 2015. Aid to a nuclear-armed nation, with its own space programme and more dollar billionaires than the UK, is hard to justify.

Ending aid to India strengthens the case for aid to people in countries where it can really make a difference.