Kerala floods: Foreign assistance, policy of uniformity vs chapter 9 of NDMP
New Delhi, Aug 23: The Centre has politely refused the aid of Rs 700 crore offered by the United Arab Emirates, towards the rehabilitation of the flood ravaged, Kerala. While the Union Government has declined to accept the assistance, it has however conveyed its appreciation to the foreign nations that have come forward and offered help.
Such issues are governed by the National Disaster Management Plan. In 2004, after the tsunami struck India, the then Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh had said that India could manage on its own. He also said that if the need arose, then India would think about accepting financial aid from foreign countries.
This went on to become the policy that India followed and in the calamities or disasters that followed, the Centre has not accepted financial assistance from foreign countries.
In this context it would be important to read what Chapter 9 of the NDMP says. This chapter describes the position on taking help from willing nations.
This chapter that was published in 2016, says if the government of a foreign nation willingly offers help, the Centre may accept the offer. As a matter of policy, the Government of India does not issue any appeal for foreign assistance in the wake of a disaster. However if the government of another country voluntarily offers assistance as a goodwill gesture in solidarity with the disaster victims, the Central Government may accept the offer.
What MEA states:
Following the issue, the Ministry for External Affairs said that the Government of India deeply appreciates the offers from several countries, including foreign governments to assist in relief and rehabilitation efforts after the tragic floods.
In line with then existing policy, the Government is committed to meeting the requirements for relief and rehabilitation through domestic efforts. Contributions to the Prime Minister's Relief Fund from NRIs, PIOs and international entities such as foundations would, however be welcome, the statement by the MEA also read.
Times when India accepted foreign assistance:
Latur Earthquake (1993)
Bengal Cyclone (2002)
Bihar floods (2004)
When India did not accept foreign assistance:
Uttarakhand floods (2013)
Kashmir earthquake (2005)
Kashmir floods (2014)
The policy of uniformity:
The reason why India went ahead with this policy was to maintain uniformity. It would be difficult to refuse aid from one country, while accepting it from another. These could lead to diplomatic issues. Further India feels it is very much capable of handling such situations on its own.
The United Arab had offered around Rs 700 crore as financial assistance for flood relief operation in Kerala. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, called up Prime Minister Modi and made the offer for assistance, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said in Thiruvananthapuram.
Around three million Indians live and work in the UAE out of which 80% are from Kerala.
The government of Maldives has also decided to donate $50,000 (Rs 35 lakh) for flood affected people in Kerala. It is understood that the UN is also offering some assistance for Kerala.
The floods in Kerala have claimed nearly 231 lives and rendered around Rs 24 lakh homeless. As per an estimate, the total loss runs into nearly Rs 20,000 crore. Several states have offered assistance, while the Centre has given financial aid of Rs 600 crore.