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As British politician makes rhetorical claim on “UK’s foreign aid” to India after Chandrayaan-3 launch, here is how it is a falsehood repeatedly peddled by colonists

UK stopped granting aid to India in 2015, now it only invests in India in various projects, and give some aid to NGOs, many of which have anti-India agenda

On the 14th of July, India’s premier space research organisation ISRO successfully launched the Chandrayaan-3 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Andhra Pradesh’s Sriharikota at the scheduled time of 2:35 PM (IST). This is ISRO’s follow-up attempt after the Chandrayaan-2 mission faced challenges during its soft landing on the lunar surface in 2019 and eventually crashed on the lunar surface. 

Taking into account learnings from the last mission, the Chandrayaan-3 will attempt a soft landing on the Moon’s south pole on the 23rd of August. If everything goes as planned by ISRO’s scientists, India will become the fourth nation to pull this remarkable feat of successfully demonstrating soft-landing capabilities on the Lunar surface. Previously, only the United States, Russia, and China have successfully demonstrated this. 

Apparently, this ambitious space programme by India has not gone down well in some quarters, particularly among the elites in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. Seemingly jealous, British politician and leader of the British First political party, Paul Golding raked the rhetorical issue of the UK’s “foreign aid” to India. 

Taking to Twitter, he said, “Well done India on the success of your space programme. And shame on UK politicians who keep unnecessarily giving India tens of millions of pounds in ‘foreign aid’.”

Netizens were quick to respond back in kind to this uncanny congratulatory tweet from the British politician. While many highlighted the fact that Britain looted $45 trillion and killed millions of innocent Indians, some reiterated that this unwarranted “aid” only ends up in the pockets of notorious NGOs that are serving the nefarious purposes of Christian missionaries and trying to create fissures in Indian society. While calling for Britain to return the Koh-i-Noor diamond and other items kept in the British museums, many told him that the Indian govt has stopped accepting any aid from the UK, and now its grants and investments go towards NGOs.

The elephant in the room – UK’s “aid” to India

In 2012, India’s former finance minister, Pranab Mukherjee described Britain’s annual aid of £280 million (Rs 2,798 crore) to India as “peanuts.” This irked many British politicians who questioned the continuation of this so-called “aid” to India. They argued that India funds its own space programme and has its own foreign aid budget, thus it doesn’t require foreign aid from the UK. 

In 2015, the UK aid to India was supposed to stop after the Indian government expressed its disinterest in it. Later, in 2017, the Indian government reminded several analysts and colonial-mindset-driven political commentators that India has been giving more foreign aid to countries than it received.

However, in March 2023, the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) released a report claiming that the UK is still giving aid to India, however, it added that its nature and purpose have changed now. 

Notably, the ICAI scrutinises UK government aid and is independent of the government. The report stressed that approximately £2.3 billion (Rs 23,000 crore) of UK aid was provided to India from 2016 to 2021.

The report stated, “We calculated that the UK provided around £2.3 billion in aid to India between 2016 and 2021. This figure includes £441 million in bilateral aid, £129 million in development investment via the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), £749 million of aid through multilateral organisations, and £ 1 billion in investments through British International Investment (BII), the UK’s development finance institution.” 

As per the ICAI report, BII is the world’s oldest development finance institution and was established in 1948 as the Colonial Development Corporation. Its mission is to do good without losing money. The report added that the BII has a portfolio of 389 investments in India valued at £2.3 billion in 2021, by far its largest country portfolio at 28% of the total.

The ICAI report made it clear that the British funding was not going to the Indian government but to various programs in India, including investments. The report said, “While there are still substantial volumes of UK aid to India, it is now very different in nature and purpose.” 

The report categorically highlighted that UK aid to India is now largely focused on climate, infrastructure, and economic development, rather than the provision of basic services such as health and education to the poorest states in India.

Additionally, one spokesperson from FCDO categorically highlighted that the UK has given no financial aid to the Indian government since 2015.  

The spokesperson said, “Since 2015 the UK has given no financial aid to the government of India. Most of our funding now is focused on business investments which help create new markets and jobs for the UK, as well as India. UK investments are also helping tackle shared challenges such as climate change.”

UK government’s official response to ICAI’s report

On the 25th of April, 2023, the UK Government officially responded to the ICAI’s review ‘UK aid to India’ released in March 2023. The UK government added that it accepted 3 recommendations completely, and it partially accepted its other two recommendations on UK’s aid review to India since 2016. The UK government categorically maintained that its investment portfolio in India has a strong “development rationale”.

As per the 2023 Integrated Review Refresh (IRR) published recently, the UK government prioritises the Indo-Pacific region. It stated that developments in this region will have a disproportionate influence on the global economy, supply chains, stability, and norms of state behaviour. Therefore, the UK government asserted that it is investing and offering Official Development Assistance (ODA) in this region for its strategic interest. 

Reiterating its position, the UK government said that it has ended direct bilateral financial assistance to the Indian government since 2015. This decision was taken because India has made substantial development gains and has increased investment in its own development.  

The official response said, “The bulk of our bilateral offer is investment with the dual objective of development impact and preserving our capital.” 

The imperative part here is that the UK government maintained that it is preserving its capital which directly negates smear campaigns and insinuations in the name of the UK’s “foreign aid” to India. The claim that the United Kingdom is dolling out money in the form of “foreign aid” to India can’t be further from the truth. The UK govt is investing in various projects in India, it is not giving ‘aid’.

The UK government noted India’s increasing global stature and financial prowess. The UK government further asserted multilateral financing to India has evolved because the country is at par with emerging economies of the world. 

It stated, “During the review period (since 2016), the World Bank and Asian Development Bank finance has also evolved, and they have stopped providing concessional loans and India instead borrows on the same terms as other emerging economies. We are providing a guarantee to the World Bank to enable them to provide an additional $1 billion of climate finance to India.”

It is worth noting that lower and middle-income countries have been accusing the Western nations of falling short of their pledge to climate financing and atoning their climate sins. After repeated persuasion, these nations are compelled to partner with developing nations like India on the issue of climate change and step up for climate financing, out of their dark record in the past. 

Both the ICAI review and the UK government noted that it is economic growth that has driven the reduction in poverty in India. Apparently, recently the World Bank highlighted that India has successfully pulled 415 million people out of poverty in the last 15 years.  

In its response, the UK government emphasised India’s ongoing efforts to reform the international finance institutions to better respond to current development challenges and extended support to India’s bid in its G20 Presidency on this matter.

The claim that the UK releases foreign aid to India has no merit

Before moving ahead, let’s clearly demarcate a few things first. 

Developmental assistance/loans, investments facilitated by multilateral financing institutions, and climate financing, among other forms, are different from financial handouts, charity/donations, humanitarian assistance, or emergency aid that do not necessitate repayment from the recipient country. 

The latter forms of aid are the ones that are frequently highlighted in rhetorical claims surrounding foreign aid and mostly with the mindset of a superiority-inferiority complex.

Driven by a colonial mindset, British political commentators frequently attempt to insinuate that substantial progress and development in India are solely funded by handouts from the United Kingdom to its former colony, a notion that lacks both logical basis and factual evidence. 

The recent insinuation regarding India’s successful Chandrayaan-3 mission, suggesting it was financed through British handouts or donations, serves as yet another manifestation of this entrenched perspective.

Apart from the recent display of self-aggrandization, earlier in March 2022, British journalist Alastair Stewart sermonised that India should not receive any penny in aid from the United Kingdom, as if it was the case. Such sermons and White-man-burden type commentary are factually wrong. 

In fact, the Indian government has time and again rejected “foreign aid”, humanitarian assistance, or any form of donations/charity. India has maintained that the country can cope with the situation on its own. 

For example – the Indian government officially refused to accept foreign aid for disasters as early as 2004. That year, during the Indian Ocean tsunami, India not only refused any humanitarian assistance from Japan but also turned down emergency aid offers from the US and Israel.

Similarly, in 2018, when Kerala faced its worst floods in over 100 years, India again refused any external aid, even from one of its closest trade partners, the United Arab Emirates. The UAE had offered almost $100 million in aid.

However, the fact is that India has not been completely averse to the idea of accepting foreign aid. The only thing is that India has changed the terms for receiving foreign aid. Now, India is only inclined to accept aid on a long-term basis and is open to accepting long-term aid from multinational institutions like World Bank,  Asian Development Bank (ADB), and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) among others. 

Moreover, India welcomes foreign investment in the country, which is completely different, as the investor will gain from the investment.

With British watchdog ICAI review reports, the UK government’s official response in this matter, and the Indian government’s stated stance, it is clear that the UK has not been giving any foreign aid to India. The fact is that it has either invested in India for its strategic interests, profitability, or for climate financing, to aton for climate sins done earlier. 

As per the British government’s response, a small portion of its “investment/aid” in India goes to Non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The response stated, “The volume of ODA spent on open societies and democratic standards will remain relatively low as a proportion of total spend.” 

However, this particular investment/aid is under constant scrutiny by the government of India as it is seen that it is harming Indian interests in many ways. Many foreign-funded NGOs are working against the interests of India, like opposing development projects, meddling in politics, supporting religious conversions etc.

Earlier, in January 2022, the UK Parliamentarians were rattled and asked the Indian government to reverse its decision to not renew the FCRA license of more than 6,000 organisations, including the charity founded by Mother Teresa. 

In totality, the claim that the UK is giving foreign aid to India is factually incorrect and it will be of great help for India if these voices of UK politicians end up helping India is solving the menace of rampant NGOs drawing illicit funds from foreign sources for anti-India activities like forced conversion.

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Paurush Gupta
Paurush Gupta
Proud Bhartiya, Hindu, Karma believer. Accidental Journalist who loves to read and write. Keen observer of National Politics and Geopolitics. Cinephile.

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