Sunday, 5 February 2012

“We don’t want British aid” – Pranab Mukherjee

Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee says his country “does not need British aid” which is “peanuts” anyway.
Speaking during question time in the Rajya Sabha, Mukherjee said he and other ministers had attempted to turn down British aid last year but relented after the British government “begged” them to keep taking the money.
India is the leading recipient of British aid – more than $1.5 billion in the past 5 years; that in spite of the fact the Indian economy enjoys a growth rate of 10% and is set to surpass that of Britain within a decade.
Mukherjee’s comments come just days after the Indian Air Force rejected the British-built Typhoon as its preferred candidate for a $9.2 billion fighter jet deal, even though British Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell saying aid to Delhi was partly “about trying to sell the Typhoon.”
India instead decided on the French Rafale fighter jets. It will buy 126 of the combat aircraft in a $US11 billion deal.
According to a leaked memo, when Delhi tried to stop the aid last time, India's Foreign Minister, Nirupama Rao, proposed ''not to avail [India of] any further DFID [Department for International Development] assistance with effect from April 1, 2011,'' because of the ''negative publicity of Indian poverty promoted by DFID''.
Sources in Delhi said officials at Britain's Department for International Development told the Indians that cancelling the program would cause ''grave political embarrassment'' to Britain.
Supporters of British aid say that India still contains about a third of the world's poor, with 450 million people living on less than 50 cents a day.
-    Andrew Gilligan/The Daily Telegraph

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