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DFID, MPI and the growing India

July 15, 2010

There were a few events that happened this week that deserve a debate. UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) announced that they would be cutting their development aid to Vietnam, Russia, China and India. The largest cut would be 250 million pounds aid to India. Their reasoning was that India did not deserve any development assistance any more. DFID argued that India had misplaced priorities. The money spent on India’s nuclear and space programs and the contributions of NRIs from all over the world and especially in the UK could easily replace this assistance.

At the same time, Oxford announced that they had refined the tools for measuring poverty and this refined tool called Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) would measure poverty in various dimensions (finally people have begun thinking beyond economics). As per this new MPI, India has 421 million poor people in just 8 States, as against 410 million in all the African countries put together. The number for the whole of India is a staggering 645 million (55.4% of the population)! Is DFID listening? Is the Indian Government taking notice?

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) put 5 satellites into space. This was a feat because they did it with one rocket. This is especially significant keeping in mind the failed cryogenic rocket launch a few months ago. While this is repeat feat (ISRO holds the record of launching 10 satellites with 1 rocket), it is indeed reflective of the ability of the Indian scientific establishment.

Looking back, I am confused. I am not sure if I have to feel proud that a developed nation like UK thinks India is not poor enough for their support, or feel exuberant that ISRO has the scientific and technological brilliance to achieve what no other country except the US has done. Thinking about the lives of the less fortunate 421 million Indians living in the states of Bihar, UP, West Bengal, Orissa, Jharkhand and others makes me angry and sad. How much longer should we wait before our planners realize that we have the resources but only lack the vision, planning and efficient implementation strategies. How many more years before our political and bureaucratic establishment recognizes that poverty is not mere economics and the lack of money, but the lack of value based leadership too? How many more years for our entire fellow rural Indians to have water and sanitation facilities, health care, education and equal opportunities for livelihoods? Will the current 9.5% growth mean anything to our rural poor who seem to be having less and less of what they previously had?

India possibly will never have the opportunity that it has presently got. We have the youngest population with the least dependency ratios. If we miss out exploiting this window of demographic opportunity now, we may never be able to find answers to these vexing questions.

Balu

Categories: Musings
  1. July 15, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    Dear Balu,

    Thanks for sharing. As you have rightly pointed out, only better policy (by better politics) can be the only cure this gangrene which is eating India.

    I support the decision of cutting aid to India. It is mainly because, i feel its time for us really think of an inclusive growth and sort out our priorities. We have to tackle our problems in our own way. Cutting aid has also to do with UK economics which everybody knows is dwindling. Government is planning to tax the graduates also there.

    We don’t know what the current census would throw at us. With increasing population, more than 50% poor according to MPI and misplaced priorities, we are going to get hit hard unless we act soon. Over years we have become perfect consumers for the west..be it in aid or in products. We need to change that. In the process we have to include energy and education (most neglected fields in India).

    Inserting a link which i found very interesting: http://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_on_global_population_growth.html

    again,
    thanks for sharing

    sincerely,
    Sudheendra

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