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Charities warn against aid cuts to India

16 November 2012


School's out: a child reads from a black­board painted on the wall of a building, at a free school held under a bridge in New Delhi, India, on Tuesday

School's out: a child reads from a black­board painted on the wall of a building, at a free school held under a bridge in New Delhi, India, on Tuesd...

CUTTING financial aid to India by 2015 is "premature", aid charities have warned the Government.

The International Development Secretary, Justine Greening, announced last Friday that no new British financial aid grants would be made to India, with immediate effect. The aid programme would be "restructured" so that programmes already under way would be completed by the end of 2015, saving about £200 million during 2013-15.

All new programmes would "focus on sharing skills and expertise in priority areas such as growth, trade and investment, skills and health; and on investments in private-sector projects designed to help the poor while generating a return".

The director of advocacy at Save the Children, Kitty Arie, said on Friday that, in the longer term, aid should be phased out, but to cut it in 2015 was "premature" because "the poorest children will need our ongoing help".

The director of campaigns and policy at Oxfam, Phil Bloomer, described the decision as "hasty. . . Despite the fact [that] India is a country of growing wealth, it is also a hugely divided country, with extreme levels of poverty and inequality." The chief executive of Oxfam India, Nisha Agrawal, said on Friday that aid "can and does help embarrass Indian élites to do more than they otherwise would".

The Church of England's adviser on international affairs, Dr Charles Reed, said on Tuesday: "It would be wrong to assume that aid is the magic solution. For many countries, including India, remittances from migrants offer a much larger and more stable source of external financing than overseas development aid.

"Nor should we assume that external aid is all there is to development: access to markets and technology, especially green technology, is arguably more important in a country's strategy for development than any external financial assistance."

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