UK should continue aid to India say MPs


10:05 am - June 15th 2011

by Sunny Hundal    


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The UK should continue to provide aid to India until 2015 – according to a new report out today by a cross party committee of MPs.

The report, published today (hat-tip @JDellian83) analysed the arguments for and against. It has been argued that because India is now classed as a middle income country, it can afford to pay for its own programmes to alleviate poverty.

The inquiry found, however, that the Government of India invests significant funds in social programmes for health, education and employment and that total aid constitutes less than 0.3% of GNP. The UK’s direct contribution is only 0.03% of GDP.

Chair of the Committee Malcolm Bruce MP said:

The test of whether the UK should continue to give aid to India is whether that aid makes a distinct, value-added contribution to poverty reduction which would not otherwise happen. We believe most UK aid does this.

The Indian Government has primary responsibility for poverty reduction. It has put up taxes and increased its social spending, but the poverty there is on such an extreme scale that it will take many years for India to achieve internationally agreed Millennium Development Goals.

Poverty levels remain high in some parts of India and these are states where UK funding is targeted.

Was India’s space programme an example of the country’s wealth and further justification for cutting UK aid?

The report says that India needs a credible defence policy and points out that, “the country’s space programme also delivers important socio-economic benefits, including mapping weather patterns and the extent of floods, both of which help development”.

Read it from here

The report did not comment on the willingness of right-wing bloggers to make themselves look like prats in order to try and stop aid to India.

Last week, the International Development secretary Andrew Mitchell said aid to India would stop eventually, but not anytime soon. Right-wingers bizarrely read this as a victory, despite no one arguing aid to India should continue forever.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


1. So Much For Subtlety

Last week, the International Development secretary Andrew Mitchell said aid to India would stop eventually, but not anytime soon. Right-wingers bizarrely read this as a victory, despite no one arguing aid to India should continue forever.

2015 looks like soon to me. Actually it looks like “long enough from now when I am no longer in office and everyone has forgotten so we can do whatever we like.” But fairly soon in political terms.

It is obviously a victory for Staines. No one may have argued for aid continuing forever, but no one was arguing for stopping it, or putting a time frame on ending it. Or at least if they did, I did not hear about it. Can anyone tell me when some other people on the Left were calling for aid to be ended? Staines seems to have forced the government’s hand.

Britain knows best? Some might say it smacks of paternalism, but if the aid actually does make a difference then it should continue. It does damn India though that a foriegn country has to get involved in it like this. Because as a society, it doesn’t care enough about it’s poorest citizens.

Look saving a young child from dying of starvation is great makes me feel great, but to much of our aid which goes to countries like Saudi Arabia to some degree India end up as political bribes to buy a few of our jets.

India holds it’s fuel prices to 50p a litre so the people can work so it says the cost we are told a billion day, it’s now saying it’s formed a space agency, it says it’s aim to return to the moon, America is saying great because it can use the travel to the space station.

Fine but first feed your poor.

@1: No Staines has not forced anyone’s hand.

The government has not been specific about when aid to India would end because, as Andrew Mitchell said in March, DfID was delaying the release of its operational plan for India until it has “a chance to see and take into account the views of the [International Development Committee].” (Source http://www.devex.com/en/articles/andrew-mitchell-previews-aid-plan-for-india?source=ArticleHomepage_Center_3).

That has now happened to schedule.

Nevertheless, the idea that aid to India would cease at some point has been around since at least July 2009, when the Tories said in their ‘One World’ ‘green paper’:

Relative peace and security, integration into the world economy and better
policies have fostered growth and development around the world – most notably in China and India. Millions of people have been lifted out of poverty.Although shocking poverty remains, people in these countries can look to the future with a measure of hope. (Source: http://www.bond.org.uk/data/files/conservative_green_paper.pdf)

And in February 2011, Tory insider Tim Montgomerie was sure enough of his ground to say:

“Mr Mitchell does not expect aid to India to last for more than a few more years but has decided that the Indians within the 456 million living on less than $1.25 a day – and that Britain can reach – shouldn’t be penalised because of their government and its questionable spending priorities.”
(Source: http://conservativehome.blogs.com/thetorydiary/2011/02/andrew-mitchell-freezes-uk-aid-to-india-and-plans-to-put-extra-money-in-failing-states.html)

So it is not correct that Staines has forced the government’s hand on this. He is simply using the age-old technique of campaigning for a something that was coming soon anyway, and which had been pretty clearly signalled.

I happen to think that ending aid to India is the wrong decision, given that it is now focused exclusively on the eight poorest states, many (sometimes tribal) area of which remain beyond/at the limits of the state’s reach, but the government (and those lobbying within DfID and the NGOs) deserve some credit for an orderly process of cessation over 4/5 years, and a properly considered process where account is actually taken of a paliamentary committee before departments announce things.

“the country’s space programme also delivers important socio-economic benefits, including mapping weather patterns and the extent of floods, both of which help development”

Excellent, let’s fund a space programme for every country in Africa!

6. So Much For Subtlety

4. Paul – “The government has not been specific about when aid to India would end because, as Andrew Mitchell said in March, DfID was delaying the release of its operational plan for India until it has “a chance to see and take into account the views of the [International Development Committee].””

So Staines forced their hand. Asking the IDC is just a way of kicking the ball into touch until people have forgotten. Now we have a specific date. What is more that is both an irrelevant quote – it does not even talk about ending aid to India – and misleading. Because it does talk about aid and it makes it clear that there is no foreseen end to such aid:

The U.K. Department for International Development’s work in India in the future, he added, will be split into traditional programs, particularly focusing on health and education, and pro-poor private sector investment. Details on the latter are still being discussed, Mitchell said.

If their future plans included a cut off, you think they would have mentioned it. They did not.

“Nevertheless, the idea that aid to India would cease at some point has been around since at least July 2009, when the Tories said in their ‘One World’ ‘green paper’:”

Again a misleading quote. Sure they noticed the obvious – that China and India have growing economies. They also promised to end aid to China. They do not do so anywhere in that document for India. That passage does not even hint at a cut off of aid to India. Nor does any other passage in that document. It is, at best, utterly misleading to claim it does.

“And in February 2011, Tory insider Tim Montgomerie was sure enough of his ground to say: “Mr Mitchell does not expect aid to India to last for more than a few more years but has decided that the Indians within the 456 million living on less than $1.25 a day – and that Britain can reach – shouldn’t be penalised because of their government and its questionable spending priorities.”
(Source: http://conservativehome.blogs.com/thetorydiary/2011/02/andrew-mitchell-freezes-uk-aid-to-india-and-plans-to-put-extra-money-in-failing-states.html)”

Again another misleading quote. Notice Mitchell did intend to continue aid to India. He merely foresaw a date when India would not need aid. But the passage before that one says:

Key to this issue is whether British aid should be about helping people or countries. If your focus is simply on countries then helping India looks harder to justify. If, however, your concern is people then India does contain huge numbers of people in desperate need of help. Andrew Mitchell notes that “India has more poor people in it than the whole of sub-Saharan Africa.”

Clearly this implies that Britain would continue to focus on poor people, not merely poor countries, and hence would continue aid to India. Thus in the passage that you quoted, the key word is “but”. Aid for India was not justifiable and would not continue indefinitely, but Britain would continue to give aid to India.

“So it is not correct that Staines has forced the government’s hand on this. He is simply using the age-old technique of campaigning for a something that was coming soon anyway, and which had been pretty clearly signalled.”

I am sure the last bit is more than a little true and yet it is also clear that Staines has forced the government’s hand. There was no date, no intention to end aid before his stunt. Now there is.

“I happen to think that ending aid to India is the wrong decision, given that it is now focused exclusively on the eight poorest states, many (sometimes tribal) area of which remain beyond/at the limits of the state’s reach”

a. So what? India could fund those programmes if they wanted. Why should we?
b. If they are beyond the reach of the Indian state, what makes you think they are within the reach of the British state?

“but the government (and those lobbying within DfID and the NGOs) deserve some credit for an orderly process of cessation over 4/5 years, and a properly considered process where account is actually taken of a paliamentary committee before departments announce things.”

Sure. We would not careers disrupted. We wouldn’t want to give those aid workers short notice so they won’t have time to get their CVs in order.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
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  3. Brit Lefit

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  4. Brit Lefit

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  5. Brit Lefit

    Gujarati: Deeply secretive except for positive cliches in UK media
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  6. Brit Lefit

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  7. Brit Lefit

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  8. Brit Lefit

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  9. Sara Shane

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    […] the one of  Labangi village health worker Suhasini Behera, outlined in the case study above  (this Staines-adoring ignroramus, on the other hand, suggests aid workers will have to ‘polish their CV’ before the end […]





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