Friday, November 9, 2012

Government caves in on public demands to stop aid to India

Following UK Health Radio raising the issue, the UK is to stop giving financial aid to India by 2015, the international development secretary has announced.

Support will be gradually cut by about £200m ($319m) between 2013 and 2015 before being wound up completely.

Minister Justine Greening said the move reflected India's economic progress and status as a global force.

The UK's financial support to India, one of the world's fastest-growing economies, has been controversial for some time - particularly among Tories.

Ministers have defended it in the past on the basis of the extreme poverty persisting in rural areas and historic colonial ties between the two countries.

Ms Greening has been conducting a review of all financial aid budgets since taking over the role in September and visited India earlier in the week to discuss existing aid arrangements.

She said the visit confirmed the "tremendous progress" that India was making and the basis of the UK's support needed to shift from direct aid to technical assistance in future.

UK Health Radio has been discussing this issue for some months, not for political reasons but because the severe financial cuts to the NHS budget has resulted in reduced services and availability of medication for seriously ill patients. All at a time when the government were sending millions to a country with more millionaires than the UK and which spends more money on space exploration than we do.