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Sikh Federation (UK) welcome end to £280M a year financial aid to India

November 10, 2012 | By

London, United Kingdom (November 10, 2012): The Sikh Federation (UK) has been campaigning for many years for the UK Government to end financial aid to India. Today the UK Government announced that aid to India will come to an end. Although all existing financial grants will be honoured, the UK will not sign off any new programmes from now on.

Last year the UK gave India about £250m in bilateral aid as well as £29m in technical co-operation. Until last year, when it was overtaken by Ethiopia, India was the biggest recipient of bilateral aid from the UK. India is now the third largest investor in the UK and the largest market for British goods outside the EU.

But the UK’s support for India and no support whatsoever for Punjab has been a cause of concern for British Sikh taxpayers for many years that the Sikh federation (UK) has been discussing with the Department for International Development.

A spokesman for the Federation said:

‘Today’s announcement by the International Development Secretary, Justine Greening, that the existing development aid to India will be stopped is an excellent first step.’

‘We have campaigned for this for many years and last communicated with the Minister on this issue only a matter of weeks ago. We made a further written request at the start of this week.’

‘Our concern is the Punjab needs direct development aid from foreign governments, like the UK, as it is neglected by those in Delhi to tackle a host of acute problems linked to the environment, neglect of rural areas, drug abuse and political change.’

‘This financial aid should not be given to the Indian State or the Punjab State government, but to non-governmental organisations working in Punjab. However, the existing aid from the UK was being pumped into five other Indian states for many years and also money was not reaching those most in need.’

Aid to India has only been picked up as an issue by the wider UK public, as well as many MPs in the last couple of years with the economic downturn. Many believed that the UK should not be giving money to a country which has a multi-million pound space programme.

Ministers have defended the level of financial help in the past on the basis of the extreme poverty that remains in rural areas and historical colonial ties between the two countries.

Save the Children said “We agree that in the longer term, aid to India should be phased out”, but the UK should support non-government organisations.

Labour MP Keith Vaz, was unhappy on hearing the announcement and wants the UK Government to reassure its Indian counterpart that their bilateral relationship was still a priority.

War on Want, which campaigns to end global poverty, said financial support needed to be “smarter” and geared towards supporting “progressive movements” capable of bringing about political change and tackling growing inequality.

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