Britain advised to reverse ban on development aid to India

Last Updated: Mon, Feb 11, 2013 10:50 hrs

The UK should reverse its decision to halt development aid to India, which was taken due to domestic political pressures, a report has said.

International Development Secretary Justine Greening had announced in November that the UK was halting new commitments to India, which is historically the biggest recipient of British aid.

According to the Daily Star, Greening had come under intense pressure to take away aid given to India, which was running at 280 million pounds annually, despite the country's remarkable economic boom, which has created thousands of millionaires and allowed Delhi to operate its own space programme.

But the report, by the left-of-centre Institute for Public Policy Research, argued that the 'premature' withdrawal of aid was 'a tactic for winning votes at home rather than tackling poverty abroad'.

The report said that despite rapid GDP growth, averaging around eight percent in recent years, India still has huge numbers of people in deep poverty.

It added that rather than suddenly withdrawing aid, the UK should refocus it on helping with health, HIV and good governance in the poorest Indian states.

The report called on the British Government to take a 'more holistic' approach to development by working with expatriate Indians living in the UK.

IPPR associate director for globalisation and climate change Will Straw said that 'the UK should not give aid to India forever, but added that withdrawing the aid now is premature given India's significant development challenges; a tactic for winning votes at home rather than tackling poverty abroad'.

A DFID spokesperson responding to the report said that 'the report failed to recognise that the decision to change the UK's development relationship with India was an agreement between the UK and the Indian government', the report said.

The spokesperson added that the Indian Government has made clear that what it values most about the relationship is Technical Assistance to make its own welfare spending more effective, it added. (ANI)

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