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AID TO INDIA THE LAND OF GOLD

By Mark Rogers

On February 10, 2012, I posted a prediction that the Barmiest Political Story of the Year would be the refusal by the British government to accept India’s rejection of the Department for International Development’s hand-out of £280 million a year: this aid programme is set to end after 2015.

Nothing barmier has emerged – only the original story getting even barmier. My original concern was simply that the Indian government had categorically stated that it didn’t want it, although of course at the back of my mind was the thought that India is a nuclear power – why was it deemed to need a hand-out?

India Orbiting Mars

It was reported just over two weeks ago that India is to launch a satellite which will orbit Mars. The cost of this project is just under one fifth of the amount of money that the Department for International Distribution of Other People’s Money sends to India each year. India has been conducting a space programme since the 1960s and has launched many satellites.

India is also a large regional military power – with a navy.

The Indian Military

Whether or not India intends to emerge as the region’s dominant military power is not at issue; what is at issue is that it is surrounded by hostile or potentially hostile powers, the obvious one being the ongoing conflict with Pakistan not only over Kashmir but also about Pakistani-backed terrorists operating in India in pursuit of goals other than just the Kashmiri issue. But India fought a war with China in 1962 – and China’s ambitions cannot be ignored (especially if its economy goes into a widely predicted decline). India has both the manpower resources as well as the economic wherewithal to provide for its own security. It has proud fighting traditions and its long association with the British Army laid solid foundations for its modern prowess.

Today it was reported that the Indian Navy is spending £1 billion on three warships – and buying them from Russia. This has caused a predictable uproar in the U.K., chiefly because the British Navy, along with the rest of the British armed forces, is being emasculated.

Yet here is the public purse being used to send “aid” to India, in pursuit of the Coalition government’s promise to raise the total spending on international aid to 0.7% of national income. Promise to whom, one has to wonder? There are serious problems with the Ministry of Defence – not just the usual overspending on projects that are then abandoned; not just that, unlike the Indian Navy, we no longer have any aircraft carriers (the Indian Navy has aircraft carriers and warplanes to put on them); but, most importantly, the large number of redundancies being inflicted on the services and a very serious crisis of military pensions.

No wonder the self-deluded International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell has been quoted as saying: “I completely understand why people question the aid programme to India and we questioned it ourselves.” Obviously he didn’t completely understand the answer.

Just to drive the point home, two things should be noted about the U.K.’s aid to India: first of all, India has become over the last two-three decades so much of a developed nation that it even has its own international aid programme; and second, that the money that the U.K. sends to India is borrowed – that’s right, we don’t even have the money that we dispense with such largesse!

Aid Targets

The Department for International Decrepitude justifies this largesse on the grounds that the money goes to targeted projects and is not just a general hand-out to the Indian government which then gets spent on Russian battleships. That misses the point entirely. Besides there are development projects run by Indian charities that are compromised by the aid money – it is not just the Indian government that has denied that it needs aid, autonomous organisations within India, working in the very poorest regions, have rejected the need for it.

Those who defend the aid to a country like India accept that India is now a major economic power, but point out that the country, with a population of 1.21 billion, is still riddled with poverty. This is saying nothing – it is like pointing out that Britain at the height of its imperial power still had pockets of dire poverty. The Empire didn’t go round asking for hand outs for the East End; the amelioration of poverty was the result of people’s own indefatigable efforts in a low tax environment, aided where needed by voluntary organisations and self-help societies.

None of this shakes the self-belief of those would dip their fingers into others’ pockets to bolster their sense of their own rectitude.

“Lord Ashdown emphasised the immense influence and respect that meeting our aid commitments and being a leader in international development gives us in international affairs. He then made the moral case for giving aid, arguing that the UK is a great country ‘and one of the reasons we’re a great country is because of our humanity.’ ” Thus the self-important Lord Ashdown at a debate organised by Save the Children and UNICEF, held in London in May.

Thus, the Indian government says it does not want or need Britain’s aid: such is the power of the “moral” case that the British government can “afford” to ignore the Indian’s in a fit of smugness that we – the colonial masters still, perhaps in imagination, eh, Lord Ashdown? – know best what’s good for Johnny Foreigner.

Readers curious as to why articles of this nature should be appearing on a gold investment website should read: GOLDCOIN.ORG: MIXING POLITICS AND NUMISMATICS 

And for background on the writer: CONFESSIONS OF A LAW AND ORDER ANARCHIST

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