In Afghanistan, India Wins More Hearts than US

    Afghan men attend a shura with U.S. marines. India's aid program wins more Afghan support than U.S. efforts, according to a poll by the Afghan Center for Socio-Economic and Opinion Research. Photo by: Phillip Elgie / ISAF Media / CC BY ISAF MediaCC BY

    India’s USD1.2 billion contribution for Afghanistan may just be a fraction of the U.S.’s USD50 billion support for the Islamic nation. But, India’s aid program is helping to win more Afghan support compared to U.S. efforts.

    In a poll conducted by the Afghan Center for Socio-Economic and Opinion Research last year, only half of the 1,534 Afghan adults surveyed have a somewhat favorable view of the U.S.

    India, on the other hand, has become one of the most-liked foreign countries in Afghanistan, with nearly three-quarters of the population perceiving India as somewhat better, according to Global Post’s Tom Peter.

    Analysts say India is often better than the U.S. when it comes to developing and managing aid programs that Afghans find more tangible and effective.

    “The Indians over a long period of time have not had so many projects of high magnitude compared to some of the other [international donors] … but they have a reputation for having targeted areas of specific need,” said Thomas Gouttierre, director of the Center for Afghanistan Studies at the University of Nebraska at Omaha as quoted in the article.

    Fisal Ahmed Zakeri, director of water management at the Ministry of Energy and Water in Herat, Afghanistan, said aid programs managed by U.S. organizations are often plagued by inefficiency and poor resource allocation. He most recently worked with the U.S. Agency for International Development on a small water accessibility study in Herat. While his ministry offered to conduct the study for free, USAID instead awarded the contract to a non-governmental organization, which then subcontracted it to another NGO until it ended up with a local village council that finally hired people to conduct the survey, Zakeri said in the piece.

    About the author

    • Ma. Rizza Leonzon

      As a former staff writer, Rizza focused mainly on business coverage, including key donors such as the Asian Development Bank and AusAID.