The Politics of Aid, Poverty and

UK Jet Fighters Lost Deal

“All things are subject to interpretation; whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.” –Friedrich Nietzsche


The author dealt with the machinations of the Anglo-Saxons in his 35 years diplomatic career and had a spell as Counselor at the Indian Embassy Paris in mid 1970s, where he found the French very cooperative in nuclear and space fields. He is convinced that London and Washington have and continue to promote and implement policies inimical to India. This conviction has been only been further cemented since becoming a freelance and independent analyst of international affairs, having written over 400 articles for international online media since 1996. 

New Delhi’s choice of French jetfighter Rafale deal of over US $ Ten billion over the British Typhoons generated much anti-India noise and churlishness with many Brits calling it a 'snub'. On question hour, BBC (which gave 98% time to war mongers prior to 2003 US/UK led illegal invasion of Iraq. So much for its claim as a media outlet. It is generally anti-India) when asked why should Britain continue to “subsidize” India by “doling out” aid when it could afford to spend “billions of pounds” to buy French fighter jets, International Development Minister Alan Duncan was shouted down .He said cutting off aid to India “would mean that hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people, will die who otherwise could live.” Such utter nonsense. Another complained that UK failed to get the “value for money” i.e. the jet deal for the aid to India. “How dare a country, a former colony to boot, and a recipient of our aid dare snub us?” The Shylockian shopkeeper. Expressions like “ingratitude” were bandied around with shrill calls for scrapping the aid to India.” We give India £1bn in aid, THEY snub the UK and give France a £13bn jet contract,” read a headline in the Daily Mail leaving little to the imagination.

In fact even in the House of Commons too “MPs who hitherto only ever spoke about India in the most glowing terms — great democracy, great people, great country to do business with —sought to portray it as an unreliable partner and a destroyer of British jobs. Prime Minister David Cameron was mocked for wanting an “enhanced” relationship with India. More such inane and racist discussion ensued... 

In fact India has been very reluctant to take British aid and has said so many times. Last year, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee told the Indian parliament that "'we do not require the aid' describing it as ‘peanuts' in terms of India's massive development efforts." Former foreign secretary Nirupama Rao formally proposed an end to British aid from April 1, 2011, because of the “negative publicity of Indian poverty promoted by the British department for international development. 

Such imperialist attitude persists since Indians with slavish genes in their DNAs  keep on praising the British, beginning with those who studied there, or were granted British scholarships or honorary Doctorate degrees. When a proven liar and criminal so adjudged by independent tribunals like former prime minister Tony Blair comes to India, sycophants go kowtowing to him. For debates on India’s triviality and celebrity obsessed TV channels if  white Brits cannot be outsourced, then Indian origin legislators, journalists, hangers on are brought into debates. The worst example is one Lord Meghnad Desai, an economist (why does he not prescribe measures to redress British economy gone bankrupt).

In any case most of the aid goes into the salaries and upkeep of the so called British expert’s. Only peanuts might filter down into poverty reduction. Read “Hell hath no fury like Britain 'scorned'”

Genocide and Rampant Looting of India
under British Colonial Rule 

Ten millions killed after the 1857 revolution.

In his book “War of Civilizations: India AD 1857” writer/journalist Shri Amaresh Misra states that 1857 revolt was a revolution which failed because it was not sufficiently well organized. It was much more broad-based than thought and lasted well beyond 1857, all the way into the 20thcentury. It was a war of civilizations. “The conventional view that Indians lost militarily or politically has to be overhauled… Despite everything, Indians could still have won a conventional victory — it was only internal betrayal that probably skewed this possibility.” (Internal betrayal can be seen everywhere and everyday even today)

The number of Indians killed in revenge after 1857 has been estimated at 10 million (7 per cent of the population) in UP, Haryana and Bihar alone based on primary sources in the National Archives in New Delhi and the state archives in Lucknow, Patna, Bhopal, Bombay, and Ahmadabad apart from the Raza Library in Rampur, Shibli Numani Library in Azamgarh, Khuda Baksh Library in Patna, and the Deoband Library. The original sources are in Urdu, Persian, and Arabic. 

The British did destroy all records on the genocide but preserved the story of the battles because the British had to report to their superiors. The figures of the genocide were tabulated from land, railway and labor survey reports. From Lahore and Bangladesh, Misra obtained the gazetteers of districts of Punjab, Sind, and NWFP of Dhaka, Chittagong, and Fareed Pur.

Colonial Exploitation and Loot

"The conquest of the earth, which means the taking away from those who have a different complexion and slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look at it too much." Conrad's Marlowin Heart of Darkness:

Before the arrival of the British East India Company in the late 18th century, the sub-continent's share in world manufacturing was 24.5 percent in 1750 (32.8 percent for China ). But by the time the British had finished with India, the sub-continent's share had fallen to 1.7 percent (in 1900) and that of the British increased from 1.9 percent (in 1750) to 22.9 percent (in 1880).

The transfer of wealth from Hindustan to Great Britain is defined by the bald figures below, which hide tens of millions of deaths in famines, destruction of India’s industry and massive transfer of wealth following the battle of Plassy and subsequent battles in Hindustan.

(From The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers by Paul Kennedy)

TABLE 6. Relative Shares of World Manufacturing Output, 1750-1900

                                               1750   1800   1830   1860  1880   1900 

(Europe as a whole)                 23.2   28.1    34.2   53.2    61.3    62.0
United Kingdom                        1.9     4.3     9.5    19.9    22.9   18.5
Habsburg Empire                       2.9    3.2     3.2      4.2     4.4     4.7
France                                       4.0    4.2     5.2      7.9     7.8     6.8
German States/Germany             2.9    3.5     3.5      4.9     8.5   13.2
Italian States/Italy                       2.4    2.5     2.3      2.5     2.5     2.5
Russia                                       5.0    5.6     5.6      7.0     7.6     8.8
United States                             0.1    0.8      2.4     7.2    14.7    23.6
Japan                                        3.8     3.5     2.8      2.6    2.4      2.4
Third World                            73.0   67.7    60.5     36.6  20.9    11.0
China                                      32.8   33.3    29.8     19.7   12.5     6.2
Indian subcontinent                 24.5   19.?   17.6       8.6     2.8     1.7

In the book ‘Late Victorian Holocausts - the famines that fed the empire‘ Mike Davis says that in 1901, shortly before the death of Queen Victoria, the radical writer William Digby looked back to the 1876 Madras famine and confidently asserted: "When the part played by the British Empire in the 19th century is regarded by the historian 50 years hence, the unnecessary deaths of millions of Indians would be its principal and most notorious monument."

'Two Myths That Are Keeping the World Poor'

In his article, Ashvin Pandurangi quotes from the Indian environmentalist, Vandan Shiva, who in her brief article for Odewire, "Two myths that keep the world poor", tears apart the logic of Harvard economist and neoliberal "shock therapy" advocate Jeffrey Sachs ( He and his cohorts transferred US $ 400billion to one trillion of wealth from Soviet Union after its collapse to the West under the charade of ‘shock therapy‘ capitalism and globalization and in the process creating seven oligarchs, six of them Jews) 

Sachs book called The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities of Our Time, features all the nonsensical arguments that “liberal progressives” like to spout off in magazines and on television these days. They proffer the same kind of fundamental myth that Nietzsche identified crawling through the bowels of modern religions such as Christianity– if one toils hard enough on Earth, and accepts one’s designated roles in society; he/she will be rewarded in Heaven.

If that is God’s given truth, then there is no need to radically alter the system or fight for justice/equality, right? Shiva first explains why global poverty is not a function of people being "left behind", as if they had been ten minutes late to the train station, but rather of people being held up for nearly all their wealth/resources at gunpoint.

There is a problem with Sachs’ how-to-end poverty prescriptions. He simply doesn’t understand where poverty comes from. He seems to view it as the original sin. “A few generations ago, almost everybody was poor,” he writes, then adding: “The Industrial Revolution led to new riches, but much of the world was left far behind.”

This is a totally false history of poverty. The poor are not those who have been “left behind”; they are the ones who have been robbed. The wealth accumulated by Europe and North America are largely based on riches taken from Asia, Africa and Latin America. Without the destruction of India’s rich textile industry, without the takeover of the spice trade, without the genocide of the Native American tribes, without African slavery, the Industrial Revolution would not have resulted in new riches for Europe or North America. It was this violent takeover of Third World resources and markets that created wealth in the North and poverty in the South.

Shiva introduces the inconvenient history that people like Sachs continue to ignore to this very day, as they demonize the millions of new people slipping into poverty every week and accuse them of not being productive, creative, innovative, responsible or hard-working enough. And perhaps there are elements of truth to it, but it is far from the whole story. That is exactly the dynamic we now see occurring between the EU politicians/bureaucrats, their media spin machines and the peripheral populations.

I post below an excellent article on the subject by former Indian foreign secretary

The Development Aid Controversy 
by Krishnan Srinivasan
[First published in Kolkata Telegraph on 21 February 2012]

Since World War II, India has received more foreign aid for development than any other developing country, but the giving and receiving of such aid is being increasingly called into question, both in the donor countries and within India itself. In the United Kingdom, the announced allocation of one billion pounds in development assistance over the next four years has resulted in questions both inside and outside parliament and not only from circles opposed to the coalition government and a robust but not totally convincing government response. This acrimony has been added as midgen of bitterness by the Indian finance minister describing foreign aid - not only that from the UK - as a ‘peanut’, which may be an appropriate simile when Compared to the proposed Indian development expenditure of approximately $73 billion (at 2006 Prices) in the current Five-year Plan.

At a time when the UK is flirting with recession and downgrades by rating agencies, in the throes of fiscal austerity and deep spending cuts, when domestic budgets are being slashed, and with emerging signs of poverty in the British Isles themselves, it is hardly surprising that such a debate should take place, especially after India had made it clear that it was not requesting more development aid from the UK and proposed its discontinuation from April last year. The British government has citied the traditional bilateral relationship between UK and India, of which such assistance has been a part, and the recently revitalized relationship, but this argument still smacks of the hang-over of post-colonial guilt. Similar arguments were made to New Delhi from some of the smaller European countries when development assistance was terminated about a decade ago; those governments felt that an important channel of regular communication with India would then be snapped, and that philanthropic circles in their countries, including NGOs and influential voices close to the Church, would expect such assistance to continue as long as abject poverty existed in India.

British ministers have made the claim that India is a ‘development paradox’, and that despite the upwardly mobile middleclass and no shortage of dollar billionaires in India, many hundreds of millions, comprising about40% of the population, live on less than $1.25 a day, and about double that number on less than $2 a day. The country is home to the largest number of poor and hungry in the world -about one third of the world’s poor are to be found in India. The point being made by British spokespersons is that the aid is targeted at poor people and not poor countries, and specifically to the poorer Indian states like Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha, where there can be the greatest impact and the best value for money for the money spent. The British aid pie-chart shows44% to Indian government programs on health and education, 41% to the poorest five Indian states and 15% to multilateral and civil society organizations.

But considering the monetary allocations in question, giving aid to India remains a curiosity, a hang-over from the past, and should have been retired along with the superannuated Aid-India Consortium that had been established in the 1960s. The partial liberalization of the Indian economy from the early 1990sgenerated unprecedented government revenues and introduced a long period of satisfactory GDP growth. Besides huge government spending on ‘planned’ development, there are massive government non-plan subsidies for food, fertilizer, oil products, employment, education, health, and non-conventional energy. That a large segment of these subsidized products do not reach the targeted people is a lamentable fact, and a matter of administrative inefficiency and corruption, rather than any lack of resources.

Apart from having a trillion dollar and faster growing economy than the developed countries, India has an expensive defence, nuclear weapon and space industry, and its per capita income has risen four times since independence. It has recently extended grants of $5 billion to Africa and $1 billion each to Afghanistan and Bangladesh, and has a regular development assistance program for foreign countries that is about as well funded as the total bilateral aid it receives from abroad. It also has a well-heeled non-resident population, $300 billion in foreign exchange reserves, and in its urban conglomerations, an all-too-frequent display of ostentatious opulence.

India now obtains aid from only a handful of developed countries, led by Japan and Britain. While government spokesmen assert that assistance in ‘niche’ – though undefined - areas will still be welcome, from New Delhi’s point of view, the quantum of aid from countries like the UK is not proportionate to itsimpact on the ground in terms of poverty alleviation, is too small to make any difference, and the multiplier effect is minimal. Such aid constitutes an administrative burden and consumes bureaucratic time that could be better spent; it gives an opportunity for donors to inflict lectures on India on a wide range of socio-economic subjects in the name of ‘accountability’ that have no bearing on the actual disbursement and utilization of funds; it creates vested interests and ‘jobs for the boys’; it inevitably leads to negative images of India in the donor country; is often a means by which foreign consultants and obsolete technology and equipment receive privileged access and inflated pricing benefits; the aid to NGOs is not designed to make themself-sustaining, and in short, India would prefer assistance where necessary through multilateral agencies like the World Bank’s IDA. It may be showing an improper ingratitude in enforcing this Indian viewpoint upon the few remaining bilateral donors, but there is no doubt that eventually it will prevail, and the sooner the better.   


More by :  K. Gajendra Singh

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