I don’t know how long the Coalition government will be able to resist popular sentiment that Britain should cancel its £270 million a year aid programme for India.
A country of extremes, home to more billionaires than the UK, with massive defence spending and a space programme - and a third of the world’s poor.
Readers’ comments addressing The Times of India’s online reporting of the story provides an interesting insight from the perspective of Indians never likely to be recipients of aid given the necessary ability to converse in English on the internet.
There is widespread pride in India’s economic achievements but thereafter opinions divide into two main bones of contention.
There are those contemptuous of Britain’s colonial rule of India. Some say the UK can stuff its hand-outs and consider its own poor; others think we should pay reparations for the centuries we “looted” the Sub-continent starting with the return of gems in the Crown Jewels.
While not necessarily disagreeing there is another school of thought more angered by issues closer to home. Corrupt politicians, tax evasion, and the salting of funds in countries like Switzerland are high on the agenda.
The row was triggered by the British media’s sour response to India’s decision to award a multi-billion pound fighter contract to France rather than the consortium which would see part of the plane built in Britain.
We didn’t seem to be getting much for the £1 billion aid earmarked for India over the next few years, the leader writers concluded.
It didn’t help that finance minister Pranab Mukherjee’s comment, "We do not require the aid. It is a peanut in our total development exercises (expenditure)" made last summer was resurrected in the press at the weekend.
I’m sure he’ll get his wish and perhaps before the end of the proposed four year programme in which case the certain losers would be India’s poorest states for whom the aid is intended.