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    • UK confirms 280 million pounds annual aid to India
    • Andy Mar 11

      LONDON: The David Cameron government has resisted pressure from various quarters at home to continue aid to India at the rate of 280 million pounds per year until 2015, an official review of UK's overseas aid has announced.

      The review says that Pakistan, which is facing several crises and challenges will be given 350 million pounds a year over four years, but this aid is "linked to progress" on reforms.

      On Britain's plans for aid to India, the review document says: "India's tremendous economic growth over the last decade has lifted people out of poverty and generated the resources to pay for some of the world's largest and most successful anti-poverty programmes".

      One example, it says, is the primary education scheme that has got 60 million children into school since 2003.

      It adds: "But the scale of need in India's poorer states - each of them larger than most African countries - remains huge.

      The state of Bihar alone has double the number of people living in extreme poverty than Ethiopia.

      Madhya Pradesh has the same population as Britain but an economy 100 times smaller and 50 times more mothers die there every year".

      The Department for International Development is discussing a new approach with the Government of India - one focused much more tightly on India's poorest states and poorest people.

      It will focus aid in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa. "We will share expertise, support innovation and build skills to help India's public and private resource go further", the review document says.

      Britain's 'top priorities' in India will be ensuring the poorest girls and women get quality schooling, healthcare and nutrition; and supporting the private sector to deliver jobs, products, infrastructure and basic services in areas which desperately need them.

      Saddled with mounting budget deficit, British aid to several countries has been cut or substantially reduced as part of its overall efforts to cut public spending.

      The department will target aid to India in the three poorest states of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa.

      Several MPs have voiced public criticism to give aid to an India whose economy is growing exponentially, and is now in a position to give aid to many African countries.

      The criticism comes amidst deep public spending cuts that have led to many job losses in Britain.

      The UK will end its bilateral aid work in countries that have been assessed as no longer requiring substantial UK aid programmes, including some classified as having 'middle-income' status or emerging economies.

      These include Serbia, Cambodia, Moldova and Vietnam, with more closures to be announced in the coming weeks.

      The shake-up will follow a review into Britain's aid work, expected to conclude soon, and follows earlier announcements that the UK will end programmes in China and Russia.

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