Saturday, 4 February 2012


You are really going to love this.

Many people, including some readers of the Republic, have been asking for some years why we give aid to India.

Now I'm a believer in international aid. Without labouring the point, I believe that while we should make sure that our own people are looked after, even  our poorest are comfortable compared to the misery of starvation, pestilence and natural disaster that afflicts some parts of the world.

We constantly make it clear that we don't want and can't afford to accept economic migrants here. So, if we had intelligent and well planned aid programmes, we might be able to help people to make lives for themselves and their families at home, their home. It's not just charitable; it makes sound economic sense too.

So, back to India. I know that there is grinding poverty in India. My brother is not long back from there, having visited the slums on Mumbai. But India is a rich country with economic growth running at over 10%, something like 100 times the UK's. 

India can afford nuclear weapons, and a space programme. Slowly, but surely, India is working to alleviate its poverty. It has, for example, doubled spending on health in the last 8 years. To pull it from third world status will take a long time. It could be done faster if so much of the cake was not taken by the rich. But that is how things are, not just in India, but everywhere, including the UK where the gap between rich and poor is the greatest in the developed world.

While we have been saying that India doesn't need money from this poor little island, so has India. Pranab Mukherjee, India's Finance Minister, last year asked the British to stop sending aid.

And Britain (wait for it) begged India to continue to accept it. 

A leaked memo from Mr Mukherjee shows that he wished to terminate aid from Britain because it was portraying a negative image of the poverty in his country. Although in our terms it was a large amount, it was a trickle in the overall budget of India and it was more damaging than helpful. Furthermore, most of the aid was either being syphoned off by corrupt officials in India, or was inappropriate or unneeded because the the administration in the Department For International Development (DFID) send televisions to schools that don't have electricity, or satellite tracking for buses which already have the system.

DFID, having made a considerable effort to persuade the British public that aid was vital to India, said that it would be embarrassing if the country rejected the aid on the basis that it didn't need the money. Alan Duncan, a junior minister, had told the UK public that hundreds of thousands if not millions would die without our aid. This was clearly a total fabrication.

And now, despite having been told publicly that the money is not wanted, Andrew Mitchell Secretary of State at DFID, seems determined to continue to throw money at the country with a revamped programme which will target the states rather than the Federal Government, at the same time as he is cutting money to some African states desperately in need of it.

Last week the Indian government decided to purchase a French fighter plane, rejecting the British Typhoon in the process.  Mitchell, who according to a Despatches programme keeps his own money in the British Virgin Islands, is livid. Seemingly another reason for the aid was "to sell Typhoon".

Oops Mr Stupid, err Mitchell. International aid isn't supposed to be about selling stuff! You'd have thought that as the SoS you might have grasped that basic fact, and even if your department is as incompetent as the century is long, you might have made an effort to keep it quiet.

I wouldn't put Andrew Mitchell in charge of the office tea fund, never mind a multi billion spending department. What a bloody fool.


  1. Someone from the coagulation said we 'should be proud to be an aid super power'. This gave me a spring in my step.
    Don't tell me we can't even achieve that these days ?
    Will we have to take all the money back ?

  2. Noooooo throbber... hundreds of thousands of Indians would starve to death, possibly even millions, or trillions... or I get it mixed up with how much debt the UK has?

    In any case, I'm not entirely sure why the UK government cares about people dying. Only a little bit west of India, it seemed perfectly happy to carpet bomb Baghdad, killing hundreds of thousands to please George Bush.

  3. I'm sitting here quite shocked at the amount of hatred and contempt that photo of that smug little bastard Duncan brought out in me.

  4. So tris, India don't want our aid but we insist on giving it because if it's refused it will cause red faces to the coagulation who are keen to be an 'Aid Superpower ' and have invested heavily in this weird idea because they think it's popular in the Gruinad and at the BBC.
    And that's our democracy ?
    oh and the upcoming referendum on independence for Scotland will give the vote to a Lithuanian student but not to someone born in Scotland and working in London ?
    And that's our democracy ?

  5. It's because, anon, he is radiating revulsion at you as he looks down his nose. You just feel obliged to radiate the same thing back...


  6. If the UK doesn't give a certain amount of its GDP to foreign aid throbber, it can't be on the G8 (or so I heard). Now, I can understand that that is important to the likes of Blair, Cameron, Thatcher, Brown.. For all their havers, these people went into politics to be self important. What's the point of it if you can't strut around like Boadicea.

    But what I don't understand is why we have sawn off the African countries that desperately need help to give to India, which doesn't want our money.

    I'm not sure about the referendum situation. I think that conditions for a Scottish government referendum would have to comply with the terms for a Scottish election. There's probably no other way to do it. And as they have made that like a council election, people who are living in the country, regardless of their origin, are allowed to vote, and people living without, are not.

    Unlike an English General Election where people who are living in Australia or Antarctica can vote, but foreigners living in England, can't.

  7. For once, words fail me.


    It is all about graft and corruption two ends of the same stick.

  8. Might want to add incompetence, stupidity, vanity and lack of any real sense of what the whole thing is about to that, Wolfie.

    I thought words wouldn't fail you completely though.

  9. Aid to old chestnut, it was never 'AID' tris it was always a thinly disguised bribe to stop economic migrants from coming here, I am not sure what the % figures are (and cant be bothered to look them up ) but I think you would find that there is a large disparity between those form India and those from Pakistan coming here...
    The main difference between the two of course is the religion...Indians as Hindus are generally supposed to be pacifist in character whilst the Pakistani peoples are Muslims and they it is said wish to kill all the infidels...perfect for making a 'war on terror' type scenario eh!, Oh how we pay for the plans of the elites!