The Government has announced that around £200m of aid given to India will be slowly phased out between now and 2015. Justine Greening, the International Development Secretary, said that the decision highlights India’s success in ‘developing as an economy’. Behind Ethiopia, India is the second highest recipient of financial aid from the UK, and there’s not much of a case for it to be such a significant beneficiary.
India’s economy is the tenth largest in the world by nominal GDP, and is also one of the major economic G20 members. It has one of the world’s fastest growing economies, a thriving business capital and a multi-million pound space programme. It seems hard to justify the £250m + the UK had donated last year, especially as our own economy is not out of the woods yet and certainly wasn’t in 2011. The most convincing case to carry on giving is the divide between rich and poor that still exists to an extent in India. Though is it our responsibility to give financial aid that we can’t necessarily afford to encourage social reforms? No.
Rather than taking the easy option, it should be leaders giving non-financial encouragement and strategic advice to the Government of India to tackle poverty. India has shown good progress in this area, as 60m people have benefitted from increases in health and education spending from 2006. The time has come when it should be acknowledged that giving aid may be detrimental to improving conditions for the impoverished. India needs to take responsibility for its citizens, allocate funds to the necessary areas rather than rely on other nations to do the work for them. Removing aid is a step in the right direction, and reflects their emergence as an economic super power coming of age. So it’s on the right track, but it still needs to show some more responsibility if it’s going to progress, and be the exemplary nation it has the potential to be.