NATIONAL

British MPs call for review of aid to India

LONDON, MARCH 17 . A high-power committee of MPs has called for a review of British aid to India in view of its fast growing status as a "middle-income'' country, capable of looking after its own needs.

In a report published on Thursday, the Commons' international development committee suggested that the Department of International Development (DFID) should "continually revisit'' its rationale for providing assistance to India.

"Although 350 million of India's population live on less than one dollar a day, India is developing rapidly, and according to current projections is likely to become a middle-income country within next 10-15 years. As such, it will become a much lower priority for DFID,'' the report said.

The committee noted that DFID's �200 million annual assistance to India was Britain's largest programme of bilateral aid to any country, and it was poised to rise to �300 million in the "medium term''.

Calling for a review, the commitee said: "Although the time has certainly not yet arrived when DFID should be considering withdrawing its programme of assistance from India... . DFID needs to start thinking now about when and why it might decide to taper its India programme, assuming of course that the Government of India's own policy decisions do not pre-empt this decision.''\ The report also urged DFID to draw the Indian Government's attention to the "socially excluded groups" who needed assistance, implying that their needs were not being adequately addressed.

A spokesman of the Indian High Commission declined to comment on the committee's recommendations but clarified that all foreign assistance was "closely monitored both by the Indian Government and the donor." "The areas where it is spent include health, family welfare, education and energy reforms,'' said Kuldeep Bhardwaj adding that much of the assistance was "project-bound."

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