British MPs back aid to India despite criticism

London, June 15: British MPs have backed the controversial issue of giving aid to India till 2015 to ensure that it meets the millennium development goals, despite the fact that its economic growth is surging over the period of time.

In a report published by the House of Commons international development committee on Tuesday, a cross-party group of MPs have said that despite India's huge economic growth over the last 25 years, average per capita income is one-twentieth of that in Britain, and over 400 million people still live in poverty, The Guardian reports.

According to the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals (UN MDG) monitor, over a third of India's population live on less than 1.25 dollars a day.

The committee insisted that future aid to Indian should aim to improve sanitation, tackle malnutrition and challenge social exclusion.

Insisting that the committee had examined the arguments for and against aid, its Chairman Malcolm Bruce said: "The test of whether the UK should continue to give aid to India is whether that aid makes a distinct, value-added contribution to poverty reduction which would not otherwise happen. We believe most UK aid does this."

"The Indian government has primary responsibility for poverty reduction. It has put up taxes and increased its social spending, but the poverty there is on such an extreme scale that it will take many years for India to achieve internationally agreed millennium development goals. Poverty levels remain high in some parts of India, and these are states where UK funding is targeted," he added.

International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell also defended his decision to give 280 million pounds a year over the next four years to India, which is the 11th largest economy in the world, saying that it would be used to target the poorest sections in that country.

However, the committee recommended that Britain's aid relationship with India should "fundamentally change" after 2015.

Copyright Asian News International/