Need to relook at aid

14 Feb,2012

By Ranjona Banerji

 

In a total break from television, let’s look at today’s newspapers and some thought-provoking opinion pieces. On The Times of India’s edit page, Ramesh Thakur looks at the conundrum of foreign aid which helps the donor more than the recipient. The issue has popped up again with the British media replaying Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee’s year-old comment that the aid which India gets from Britain is “peanuts”.

 

Thakur discusses how aid can often be crippling to a country trying to pick itself out of a crisis and what is most required is not handouts but forcing governments to perform. The Africa experience with aid has been much discussed and certainly no continent has suffered as much. Pakistan is also paying the price of too much and not even home-grown development.

 

When India tried to stop aid from Britain, it was the British agencies which asked for the aid to continue. The call in Britain is to use that money internally, needed in times of cutbacks. It would make good sense perhaps for the governments of India and Britain to relook at aid to India. If we don’t need it and they do, why should we still take it?

 

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In the Business Standard late last week, Mihir Sharma argued that contrary to popular belief, Indian governments give too many handouts to the rich and middle classes (“Handouts for the well-heeled”). It’s a well-argued piece, bolstered by facts, which should prove a shocker to middle class thinkers and people who usually see the poor as some undeserving, greedy, grasping lot who are a burden to the exchequer.

 

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Sundeep Sengupta on the Hindu’s edit page puts into perspective how far India has strayed from its earlier stand on climate change and the consequences of conceding so much ground in Durban. Climate change no longer seems to be a hot ticket as far as the Indian media is concerned but that doesn’t make it any less important!
Another subject which hasn’t perhaps been adequately discussed is the situation in Syria, especially from the Indian point of view. Krishnan Srinivasan, former Indian foreign secretary, has a look at the war-like situation in Syria and examines the role of UN sanctions.

 

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Since it is Valentine’s Day, the Deccan Chronicle has looked at it seriously. Novelist Charu Nivedita questions whether India can know real love, hampered as it is by convention!

 

On which note…

 

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