UK reaffirms aid to India despite row

Prasun Sonwalkar

London, Feb 15 (PTI) Prime Minister David Cameron''sgovernment today rejected demands that Britain reduce aid to arapidly growing India, saying it was in both countries''interest to continue their "highly successful" collaborationin development.

In a speech at think-tank Chatham House, InternationalDevelopment Secretary Andrew Mitchell said that the pace oftransformation in India had been remarkable in recent years,but India''s poorest states still faced "huge developmentalchallenges".

He did not mention aid figures during the speech butearlier in the week he confirmed that until 2015 aid to Indiawill reach nearly 1 billion pounds, despite growing uneaseamong Conservative and other MPs over the size of the aidamidst deep public sector funding cuts at home.

Mitchell said: "Some people - in both the UK and India� have been asking whether the time has come to end Britishaid to India. In my view, we are not there yet. The wholerationale for my Department is, eventually, to work ourselvesout of a job.

"But having discussed this with the Government ofIndia, I believe that, for the next few years, it is in bothIndia''s interest and in Britain''s interest to continue ourhighly successful collaboration on development, not least sowe can support the Government of India''s own successfulprogrammes in the poorest priority areas".

Mitchell said he was convinced that India''s economictransformation meant that Britain and India needed totransform their development relationship too.

He said: "We are discussing this with the Governmentof India and I envisage a new approach � one focussed muchmore tightly on India''s poorest states and poorest people. Wewill help these States to unlock more funds from the privatesector and reinforce the impact of India''s own programmes".

Britain''s aid goals, he said, will be to help thepoorest women and girls get quality schooling, healthcare,nutrition and jobs as the key to breaking the cycle of povertyfor the next generation.

Over the next few years, Mitchell said, Britain wouldhelp unlock the potential of India''s private sector to deliverjobs, products, infrastructure and basic services in areaswhich desperately need them. .

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