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Increasing fury in UK over aid to India

world Updated: Feb 06, 2012 14:16 IST

Public unease has given way to increasing fury in The United Kingdom over giving millions of pounds in aid to an increasingly prosperous India, as the David Cameron government continues to resist pressure to stop it despite being in the throes of an economic crisis.

The clamour to stop the aid reached a new high when India last week decided to prefer the French fighter jet Rafale to the Typhoon, which is partly manufactured in Britain.

The debate was passionately renewed today with The Sunday Telegraph reporting that Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had stated in the Rajya Sabha last August that India did not need British aid which, according to him, was "peanuts".

India preferring France to Britain in the fighter jet deal has added public pressure to stop aid to India.

However, last night officials insisted that British aid to India was necessary and that "now is not the time to end aid to India."

The Cameron government's policy to continue the aid has come in for much ridicule, also because International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell had linked the continuation of aid to "seeking to sell Typhoon."

Britain currently gives 280 million pounds annually to India, totalling 1.4 billion pounds between now and 2015.

Mukherjee's remarks, reported to have been taken from the official transcript of the Rajya Sabha, were not reported in the UK media earlier, the newspaper said, sparking another wave of comments from people demanding an end to aid to India.

Mitchell last night defended giving the aid, saying: "Our completely revamped programme is in India's and Britain's national interest and is a small part of a much wider relationship between our two countries."