Kerala Floods: Should a Sovereign nation accept foreign aid that is conditional in nature ?

  20-Sep-2018 23:49:45

Kerela UAEfloods India

The Indian state of Kerala, also known as God's Own Country faced the wrath of God in the months of July and August this year. The God's wrath unleashed massive floods and made the conditions in the state catastrophic, although the state authorities had their own roles in these floods. More than 450 people lost their lives in this disaster and thus it was obvious that people from around the country came out to help their own people. A number of Non Government Organisations also donated funds to help the Keralites.

A controversial statement by the Chief Minister of Kerala has now raised an important question that needs to be answered with logical reasons. In a tweet, the Chief Minister said that the UAE Government had promised to provide an aid of ₹700 crores to Kerala, but the Government of India refused the aid. Based on the past experiences of India, it can be easily asserted that no foreign aid is ever unconditional, even if it is from your closest ally. To have a better view of the picture, we need to take a look at some incidents of the recent past.

In the year 2017, the United Kingdom media questioned the space programme of India, the reason being that the United Kingdom send around £100 million to India in the form of a traditional aid to poor nations. The media said that when a country is so rich that it can regularly fund its space programme to an extent that it becomes highly successful, it no more requires foreign aid. It must be noted here that the United Kingdom has not sent a mission to space since 1971.

Again, this was the same media which raised questions on India's deal of S-400 Air Defence System with Russia. The reason was again the same, that is they give aid to India but India is trading with enemies of UK. To an average person, this might be the view of the media but not the government but, United Kingdom is a democracy and the public opinion matters a lot in such countries – it was the public which voted for the Brexit – this forced their Prime Minister to resign. Therefore, these media houses have the potential to influence the public opinion which ultimately becomes the opinion of the government.

Taking a look at the behaviour of United Kingdom in 2012, it becomes pretty much clear that the aids are not actually aids, but a setup to win some business deals as a sign of gratitude. An official of the United Kingdom government had confessed in 2012 that the aid package to India was designed to win the bid of aircraft deal. And when the Indian Government did not show them any signs of gratitude, they went on to defame India via numerous methods. In a recent statement by United States Government, it has been made clear that USA does not want any aid or rebates for India and China because they do not reciprocate the aids.

An example has been set up by China this regard, and any sovereign nation should pay attention to the methodology of encroachment of sovereignty by foreign aid. Sri Lanka had to lease the Hambantota Seaport to China for a period of 99 years, only because it could not pay the loans to China. Similarly, Pakistan has been forced to provide land to Chinese companies at dirt cheap rates in response to the massive investment of China in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Moreover, China has also taken the Gwadar Port for a period of 43 years, simply because it is investing a huge sum in the development of Pakistan.

India has taken an advantage of such a behaviour of China and has transformed itself into a lender. In the last financial year, India had donated a total of $748 million to various countries, particularly in Africa. This image would certainly be tarnished if India were to accept aids from every single country which offers it an aid. This is because when you accept aid from a country, it becomes difficult for you to refuse your other allies for a similar aid. This can hamper the international relations to a large extent, something no country would wish for.

Author's Take:

Since there's no free lunch, no sovereign nation should accept any conditional or unconditional foreign aid. It will have to pay it sooner or later in one or the other way. Moreover, if somebody has his wallets filled and shows some generosity, it is not a signal to grab a plate and collect it all.