India will shed few tears over the end of UK aid | Jayati Ghosh

From Aid | The Guardian Fri Nov 9 2012, 06:46:12

For India, fairer trade agreements and an end to patronising soft power are more important than dribbles of aid from Britain

Not too many tears may be shed in India over the announcement that Justine Greening, the UK's development secretary, has announced the end of aid to India in 2015, as the question is increasingly being asked within India: should the country continue to take such aid?

A Guardian poll had asked readers to vote on this, offering various choices (yes/no/maybe/partly) on the basis of different approaches. Yet the problem is that the reasons provided for any of these options are partly true, but also partly off-track.

Consider the argument for eliminating aid, which is couched in terms of the growing wealth and economic clout of India. India has a rapidly growing economy and its own space programme, so presumably, if the government can invest in space, the country can afford to finance its own development and poverty reduction programmes. It is absolutely true that the continuing squalor and economic degradation of about half of the Indian population really need not exist. Certainly, the internal political economy of India remains the biggest obstacle towards achieving the millennium development goals or reducing poverty, and ensuring universal access to basic needs for the population. More progressive fiscal policies that raise taxes from the rich to ensure the basic needs of the people are obviously both necessary and possible, as well as strategies that encourage more productive employment and economic diversification.

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