The UK government's Tory International Development Secretary, Justine Greening, has announced that financial aid to India is to be axed. Between now and 2015 financial aid to India will be phased out. It will save the UK approximately £200m which is $319m.
She stated that the decision would be popular with traditional Tory voters. However the move is likely to be popular with voters from many political persuasions. In the past financial aid was vital to India but times change and that country is now capable of being independent. Aid charities have spoken out though to remind the government that there are still too many people living in poverty in India. These charities on the whole believe that cutting aid to India in 2015will be a premature move.
The aid though may never reach its intended source. India has become a visible world power but little has changed for some of its citizens. As times get tough around the world though plenty of people in the UK will be happy to learn that this aid is going to end in 2015.
They should however take a step back. The money is committed to aid via a Millennium project. This means that it may no longer go to India but it will go to a similar country.
The UN set targets for foreign aid in a Millennium project have been kept by the UK. Not all countries have respected the targets. Back in March 2012 a group of senior Ministers in the UK made a case for foreign aid commitments to be cut. Instead the UK government attempted to make our committment a legal obligation.
Whilst we all may applaud such strength of feeling right now it is a slap in the face for British citizens. At home Brits are being told that more austerity is on the way and times will get tougher. When such an economic downturn grips people will be outraged that money is being spent in foreign aid. There may be good justifiable reasons to do so but it will be hard to convince voters.
The UK target for aid was created 40 years ago. Times have changed greatly for countries such as India and the UK in that period of time. In March 2012, the UN praised Britain for ring-fencing its overseas aid budget, saying: "Some countries, such as the United Kingdom, despite this very difficult economic crisis, has boldly proved that it is possible to meet global commitments and domestic fiscal needs at the same time. I applaud the leadership of Prime Minister David"
OPINION: Yes foreign aid is worthy but it must take account of a wide range of circumstances. India in many ways feels insulted at what is a "hand out" from its old ruler Great Britain. The UK needs to get its own affairs in order and its priorities right. India no longer needs the same level of aid it once did.
As India's foreign minster said, commenting on Greening's announcement, "Aid is the past and trade is the future"