Christian Aid has warmly welcomed the government’s ongoing commitment to providing aid to India, despite calls for it to stop, after an Indian government minister described it as ‘peanuts’.
The charity says that the foreign aid is an important intervention, aimed at helping people living in abject poverty, and it urges people not to forget that over a third of people in India still ive in poverty.
Christian Aid is part of a consortium that manages a £25m aid programme on behalf of the UK’s Department for International Development, the programme helps people known as dalits, who were once called ‘untouchables’ and others who live below the poverty line.
The very existence of these groups is testimony to the fact that India, despite its status as one of the richest and most powerful nations in the world, has huge inequalities in distribution of income, and living standards.
And the charity says that reports that some Indian politicians want an end to UK aid, have been exaggerated.
This comes after it was reported that India had tried to terminate British Aid, and that finance minister Pranab Mukherjee called the £258M given to the country each year as ‘a peanut’.
Christian Aid’s senior political adviser Sol Oyuela said: “The changing demographics of poverty worldwide mean that 75 per cent of the poorest people in the world, living on less than $1.25 a day, are now found in middle-income countries.
“India alone is home to a third of the world’s poor. ‘The Government there has in recent years made major efforts to make education available to all and provide health services in poorer areas.
“But inequalities in society that predate the economic boom mean that there are still a large number who suffer social exclusion, and are therefore unable to access these entitlements.
“India is not unique in failing to solve all its social problems overnight. The challenges are enormous, with child malnutrition running at about 50 percent in states the size of Britain.”
And Ms Oyuela highlighted the work that Christian Aid is able to do among the dalit communities.
She said: “Among the groups we help are the manual scavengers.
“These are dalits whose only source of income is cleaning human waste from latrines without proper sanitation.
“Although the practice is illegal, it still continues. One of our partner organisations helps dalit communities manual scavengers access Government resources and find dignified alternative employment, allowing them to break free of the social constraints consigning them to such a role.”
February 9th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Simon Cross