India’s development aid comes without conditions, says PM Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday held up India’s track record of providing developmental aid to neighbours without any conditions and in line with their priorities as he and his Mauritius counterpart Pravind Jugnauth inaugurated the new Supreme Court building in Port Louis.
Modi didn’t refer to other countries involved in development cooperation in the neighbourhood, though he appeared to be making a distinction between Indian aid and Chinese-backed projects that have led to several countries in the region falling into a debt trap.
India’s approach to development is human-centric and its development partnerships are marked by respect, diversity, care for the future and sustainable development, he said in his speech during the virtual inauguration ceremony.
“For India, the most fundamental principle in development cooperation is respecting our partners. This sharing of development lessons is our only motivation,” Modi said.
“That is why our development cooperation does not come with any conditions. It is not influenced by political or commercial considerations.”
In the Indian Ocean region, Sri Lanka leased the strategic Hambantota port to a Chinese firm for 99 years in 2017 after the country was unable to repay Chinese loans for developing the facility. The current government of the Maldives has sought India’s assistance to cope with massive loans taken from China by the previous regime.
Modi highlighted his government’s vision of “Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR)” for the Indian Ocean region and said: “Our development partnerships reflect the development priorities of our partner nations.”
India is not only providing help for the present but is also trying to create a better future, for which training and skilling is an important part of development cooperation, he said. This will ensure future generations in India’s partner nations are self-reliant and more confident, he added.
Modi also outlined the projects taken up and completed in diverse fields through India’s development partnerships, including the Parliament building in Afghanistan, the Mahatma Gandhi Convention Centre in Niger, an emergency and trauma hospital in Nepal, and emergency ambulance services in all nine provinces of Sri Lanka.
An oil pipeline project being implemented with Nepal will help ensure the availability of petroleum products while another project will provide drinking water and sanitation in 34 islands of the Maldives. “We have tried to make cricket popular in countries as diverse as Afghanistan and Guyana by helping build stadiums and other facilities,” he said.
India is also focusing on sustainable development through institutions such as the International Solar Alliance and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure. “Both initiatives are of special relevance to island countries,” he said.
The new Supreme Court building in Port Louis, built with grant assistance of $28.12 million, is part of a special economic package of $353 million provided by India.
Other infrastructure schemes taken up under this package are the Metro Express project worth $275 million, the first phase of which has been completed, a $14-million ENT Hospital, which too has been completed, and a social housing project with nearly 1,000 units.
India is the largest development partner for Mauritius, for which it has also provided lines of credit worth $600 million at concessional terms. India is assisting in the building of healthcare facilities such as a renal unit, four medical clinics and two health centres.
In his speech, Jugnauth thanked the government and people for their solidarity in trying times amid the Covid-19 pandemic. He said Mauritius had benefited from medicines and medical equipment supplied by India and the three-week-long deployment of a medical team on board the Indian warship INS Kesari.
He described the new Supreme Court building as a milestone in the modernisation of the infrastructure of Mauritius that will enable the judiciary to use new technologies to make justice more accessible to all. Judges often had to wait to use the limited number of courtrooms at the old building to hear cases, he added.