UK 'walks the last mile' of aid program in India

Swarna and her baby boy, Satyasworup, are among those benefiting from an ante- and postnatal care program in India supported by the U.K. Department for International Development. U.K. Secretary of State for International Developmwnt Andrew Mitchell said DfID is “walking the last mile” with India. Photo by: Pippa Rangerv / Department for International Development

U.K. aid to India may not go beyond 2015.

On March 18, U.K. Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell told The Sunday Times the Department for International Development is “walking the last mile” with India, Agence France Presse reports.

Mitchell’s statement comes a month after India announced it will buy the French Rafale fighter jets over the British-built Typhoon jets. It also comes after reports India’s finance minister called U.K. aid ”peanuts” came into the spotlight.

A DfID spokeswoman, whose name was not revealed, told AFP the department will not be ending the program “now” but that it will not be in India “forever” — the same words Mitchell dropped in February at the height of the controversies. DfID said the current program would “run to its conclusion.”

India receives 280 million pounds ($443 million) annually in U.K. aid — the largest recipient of British bilateral foreign assistance. For the past five years, the Western country has spent 1 billion pounds on aid programs in India, and has committed an additional 600 million pounds in the run up to 2015.

While critics of British foreign aid will likely rejoice over the news, many will sure argue that ending aid to the country will not be a wise decision. India, despite being touted as a rising nation along with China due to its fast-growing economy, is still home to a third of the world’s poor.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.