Mishra: India's Poor Need UK Aid

A woman does her laundry outside her home in Mumbai, India. An Indian political essayist maintains that India's poor still need U.K. aid. Photo by: Steve Evans / CC BY Steve EvansCC BY

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s pledge of forging “a new relationship” with India will benefit the Asian nation’s military and business elites, instead of the poor, Indian political essayist Pankaj Mishra says.

As reported by Devex, the U.K. is reviewing its annual development aid to India worth 250 million pounds (USD374 million).

U.K. aid to India is an “anachronism,” according to British Conservative Party member Jo Johnson. The Asian country is “no longer a natural aid recipient,” he added. 

“But foreign aid is not an anachronism in a country whose more than 800 million people still live on less than [USD]2 a day: a pitiable budget under assault by double-digit inflation,” Mishra writes in The Guardian.

Johnson’s claim is “certainly a bold assertion,” Mishra says, citing data from the United Nations Development Program, which indicate that eight Indian states have more poor people – 421 million – than the 28 poorest countries of Africa.

“India’s political and business elites have not only failed to provide basic public services to the deprived majority; their preferred model of economic development actively victimises the poor,” Mishra says.

He argues that the U.K. Department for International Development has “occasionally been complicit” in promoting a type of economic growth that compromises the poor while making the rich even richer.  

However, Mishra concedes that DfID is “still more conscientious” than most of its Western counterparts, “especially US aid agencies, which blatantly funnel large portions of ‘aid’ money to American ‘consultants’ while advancing the interests of large American companies.”

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.