Cancel aid to India, say some British MPs


London : The aid from Britain to India must be cancelled immediately, demanded some British parliamentarians after India’s finance minister said they don’t need it. The row broke out after India favoured a French firm for a multibillion-pound fighter plane order.

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Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said that New Delhi should “voluntarily” give up the 280 million pounds a year it gets from Britain.

“We do not require the aid. It is peanuts in our total development spending,” the Daily Mail quoted Mukherjee as saying.

India has given the preferred bidder status to French firm Dassault ahead of an European consortium that includes British defence giant BAE Systems. BAE had been hoping to partly assemble 126 Eurofighter Typhoon jets at Warton and Samlesbury in Lancashire for the Indian Air Force.

MP Philip Davies sought for immediate cancellation of the Indian aid programme.

“India spends tens of billions on defence and hundreds of millions a year on a space programme – in those circumstances it would be unacceptable to give them aid even if they were begging us for it,” Davies said.

“Given that they don’t even want it, it would be even more extraordinary if it were to be allowed to continue,” he was quoted by Mail as saying.

“There will be millions of hard-pressed families wondering why on earth the government is wasting money in this way,” he observed.

Another parliamentarian, Douglas Carswell said this was “concrete proof that Britain’s aid programme is run in the interests of Whitehall officials and the DFID machine”.

“The fact is that India’s economy is growing much faster than our own. We should be encouraging free trade with them and trying to learn from them rather than handing out patronising lectures,” he said.

Added MP Peter Bone: “India has its own foreign aid programme. So it is absurd for us to be still giving them aid. They are more than capable of looking after their own issues.”