U.K. Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell has spoken: The issue of India calling British aid “peanuts” is outdated.
The Department for International Development published an article on Tuesday (Feb. 7) in response to a recent story that put U.K. aid to India on the spotlight. Mitchell said India Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s comment calling the 280 million pounds ($459 million) of U.K. annual foreign assistance a “peanut” in the country’s total development spending was made 18 months ago during a parliamentary debate.
DfID said the United Kingdom has a “close” working relationship with India. In fact, the agency noted, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron in July last year that DfID should “think hard” before cutting aid to the country.
“Since the comments were made we have radically changed our Indian aid programme — to focus on the three poorest States and to promote pro-poor private sector investment,” the article noted.
The controversial story has sparked debate among ministers and even the public on why the United Kingdom continues to send aid to India. Conservative members of the British parliament said the Asian country’s economy is “growing faster than our own.”
But many argue India continues to house a third of the world’s poor despite having an economy growing 10 percent a year. Political analyst Praful Bidwai said in an opinion piece at The Guardian that it would be “morally” and “politically” wrong for the United Kingdom to terminate aid to India. Bidwai said the nature of aid is “about poor people, not poor countries.”
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