AID funding was not mentioned in the Budget, but the Secretary for International Development, Andrew Mitchell, issued a statement on Monday about support for India.
“The Indian government has made huge progress on tackling poverty, but there is huge need in India. We will not be there for ever — we have said we are walking the last mile — but now is not the time to end the programme.”
More than 30 per cent of the world’s poorest people live in India. Since 2003, UK government aid money has helped 1.2 million children in India to go to school.
Development charities gave a cautious welcome to the Government’s plans. Laura Taylor, head of public policy at Tearfund, described India as “an amazing development success story”, and said that its economic growth meant that it was “appropriate” for the UK Government to phase out support. But, it was important not to “just pull the plug”.
Sol Oyuela, the senior UK political adviser at Christian Aid, called on the British Government to commit itself to tackling the structural issues affecting India’s poor, including tax-dodging by some multinationals. The Government “needs to engage with these global issues and show leadership at forums such as the G8 and G20”. she said.
Christian Aid does not give money to the Indian government, but supports civil-society organisations.
The Rt Revd John Went, the Bishop of Tewkesbury,, in the diocese of Gloucester, which has links with two dioceses in South India, said that there was a “real danger”, given the economic climate, that people might feel reluctant to support international aid, and that the claim that it did not go to worthy causes could “sometimes be used as an excuse for not giving”.