After decades of giving millions of pounds to India for various projects, Britain’s traditional aid programme to India will end this month and move to a new relationship that focusses on pro-poor private sector projects and technical assistance.
Ending aid to India in 2015 was announced by the secretary for International Development in November 2012 amidst growing demands that an economically-challenged Britain should stop giving aid to a country that had its own space and nuclear programmes.
A spokesman for the Department for International Development told Hindustan Times: “We are doing exactly what we said we would do back in 2012 — ending financial aid to India by the end of this year. Since 2011, DFID has cut aid to India by almost 40%, saving the British taxpayer more than £300 million.”
Reports quoting official figures said Britain gave India 279 million pounds during this year. Aid to India became controversial during the tenure of Margaret Thatcher as it was reportedly tied to India purchasing British helicopters.
Since 2012, there have been no new traditional financial aid programmes to India. DFID’s
transition to technical assistance (sharing skills and expertise) is aimed at helping the Indian Government to get the most out of their spending on health and education.
DFID has stopped approving new financial grant aid to India. All new programmes will be either technical assistance or private sector initiatives financed using returnable capital; and working together on global development issues.
After 2015, DFID said its technical assistance and returnable capital programme will focus on three thematic areas: urbanisation, economic development and empowering women and girls, which reflect the Government of India’s priorities.
To ensure the smooth transition of the bilateral programme, DFID said it was implementing a three-year structured change programme from 2013 to 2016 to help maintain a focus on the quality of closing programmes and a structured approach to exit planning as the financial aid programmes are closed.
“We have had specific discussions with Government of India and other civil society partners on exit of financial aid”, the spokesman added.
Britain spends 0.7% of its gross national income on international aid.