World Vision questions UK's move to end aid to India by 2015

By: John Malhotra
Saturday, 10 November 2012, 21:29 (IST)
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Christian relief and development group, World Vision has questioned UK's decision to end all aid to India by 2015.

“We agree that development aid to India needs to be phased out over the long term. But at the moment nearly half of India’s children under five are stunted by lack of nutritious food. That is more than 60 million children....equivalent to the entire population of the UK," expressed David Thomson, Head of Policy at World Vision UK.

The British government on Friday said that the move to halt all existing commitments by 2015 is in recognition to India’s “changing place in the world”.

India received an average of £227m a year in direct financial support over the past three years. Justine Greening, the international development secretary, said UK would no focus on offering technical assistance.

Commenting on the development, World Vision said the Indian economy may be growing, but it is no easy task for any government to lift so many out of poverty in the short term.

“Unlike acute malnutrition during famine, which can be treated, children never recover from stunting. Their brains and bodies never fully develop making them much less likely to earn a decent income as adults,” said Thomson.

World Vision invests over £30 million in tackling poverty in India. The Christian NGO said its approach is to combine "our own anti-poverty initiatives with support for communities in demanding their fair share from the government".

Last year the UK gave India about £250m in bilateral aid as well as £29m in technical co-operation.

"After reviewing the programme and holding discussions with the government of India, we agreed that now is the time to move to a relationship focusing on skillsharing rather than aid," said UK International Development Secretary Justine Greening.

Greening noted that India is "successfully developing and our own bilateral relationship has to keep up with 21st Century India".

Several leading aid groups have criticised UK's decision to cut aid.

Save the Children said it believed the decision to end financial aid was "premature".

“Despite India’s impressive economic progress, 1.6 million children died in India last year — a quarter of all global child deaths,” said Kitty Arie, the charity’s director of advocacy.

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