UK aid to India: Part II

Even as there is more hot air gushing out of the UK, The Telegraph (the Indian one) had an interesting piece on possible reasons why the French may have been preferred over the English. The article, by KP Nayar, outlines the following reasons – we dont like pushy sellers who put up political gimmicks and publicise them unnecessarily; and we reward our ‘friends in need’. For instance –
…In addition, spread across India’s entire political spectrum that includes much of the Opposition, is a firm conviction that India would not have come out unscathed from the decision to conduct the 1998 nuclear tests if it were not for the steadfast backing that President Jacques Chirac — and Nicolas Sarkozy after him — offered India in an hour of great need.

It is not widely known that during the Kargil war in 1999, the French approved with lightning speed the adaptation of Indian Air Force Mirages in tandem with equally speedy Israeli supplies of laser-guided bombs which they delivered in Srinagar: without such French and Israeli support, India could have lost Kargil to Pervez Musharraf’s perfidy.

No honourable Indian in uniform can forget that in such a situation, the US or Britain would have probably suspended all military supplies to the combatants to prove their bona fides as honest brokers for peace…

Isn’t UK a friend in need, given its billions in aid, you may wonder? But that’s precisely the point. In spite of its aid commitments, the Government of India has made it clear in the past that Indians won’t starve in case the tap is switched off, as evident from the $23 bn of unused aid we are sitting on. Also, there are many good reasons for continuing aid to India.

But this was a much bigger decision for India, as made clear by the Telegraph article, where the stakes easily outweighed considerations of any aid that the UK might be giving India.

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