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India Accepts Foreign Aid For First Time In 16 Years. Does It Signal Change In Policy?

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As India battles the COVID-19 crisis, something has happened for the first time in 16 years: India is accepting foreign aid.

Russia, South Korea, and Canada have announced assistance to India to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.

Russian President Putin called Indian PM Modi and assured full support for India to deal with COVID-19. Russian foreign ministry in a statement said that Russia will deliver a “large batch of medical aid” to India which includes oxygen concentrators, lung ventilators, and other necessary medical supplies and drugs in next coming days.

US & US business groups such as the US-India Business Council and the US Chamber of Commerce and chief executive officers of more than 40 companies, announced the formation of a “Global Task Force”. Apple Inc., Google Inc, Microsoft Corp. and Deloitte have already announced aid for India.

It seems that  India’s strategy, which usually stresses self-reliance and its own emerging-power image, is changing.

The UPA government under Manmohan Singh decided to not accept aid from foreign sources. India has over the past 16 years refused to accept foreign aid to help tackle natural disasters

In early 2005, then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said that India could cope up with the crisis (the December 2004 tsunami) on its own and would take foreign aid only if needed.

Since then it has not accepted global aid including the 2005 earthquake in Kashmir and floods in Kashmir in 2014.

In 2013 India made it clear to both the US and Japan, which offered $200,000 towards Uttarakhand relief, that it will not accept the aid and that any funding must be given to foundations.

“As a general policy in case of rescue and relief operations, we have followed the practice that we have adequate ability to respond to emergency requirements,” spokesperson of external affairs ministry Syed Akbaruddin had said in 2013.

There has been no official confirmation so far on the apparent shift in policy from the government but opposition leaders have raised questions.

 

(With Agency Inputs)

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