One of the most embarrassing problems for a developing country like India is to project itself as a world leader in economic development and at the same time demand aid from other countries.
This also becomes as much an embarrassment for the country providing aid since there are protests inside that are difficult to put down.One such aid has been provided by the government of UK to India which thankfully will come to an end from the new year.
Noises about this aid which was described by our then Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee as ‘ peanuts’ were being made since 2012 but the process to stop this was staggered for three years so that the ongoing projects were not affected.
UK had provided financial aid for government programs between 2013-2015 (Rs 855.01 cr in 2013-14, Rs 601.77 cr in 2014-15 and 190.06 a cr in 2015-16),according to a statement by the Ministry of External Affairs.
But since such assistance can not be just switched off in a day, the statement says that, “it was agreed that the existing financial grant projects will be completed responsibly as planned and technical cooperation would continue by sharing skills and expertise or in investments in private sector projects”.
But this had to come to an end ultimately because some international decisions are binding on the incumbent governments, whatever the political differences.
A country which was struggling with its own economy at that time like the UK could not justify to its people why it was providing aid to India which had a huge defense and space research budget.
But the problem with such aid is that while the central schemes can be done away with as there are new donors on the horizon it is the states that suffer most.
According to official information, there are 26 government sector projects with DFID assistance at the Centre and in MP, Odisha, West Bengal and Bihar mostly dealing with health, education, governance and urban reforms sectors.
But after the big show of strength put up by Modi on his recent visit to the UK where the UK Prime Minister Cameron seemed to be playing second fiddle, even predicting that one day an Indian person could become the Prime Minister of UK,such aid becomes even more embarrassing.
Aid, if it has to come now, will have to come under a new garb or name. But one can trust the Indian Prime Minister to come up with a new term for this, given his prowess at coining new terms and slogans.