In an embarrassing indictment of Indian governance, the UK government has ordered an inquiry into allegations of misuse of millions of pounds given to India in aid to educate poor children.
The inquiry follows reports in the British media about "millions of pounds of aid for education under the 'Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan' scheme, donated by the department for international development (DFID), that have disappeared into the depths of corruption without any benefit to the poor children".
International development secretary Andrew Mitchell described the allegations as "shocking" and said he had launched an "immediate inquiry". He also said that all "country programmes" were being reviewed to make sure that money was reaching the people for whom it was intended.
He said he had ordered a review of "every single one of the DFID's country programmes to ensure we are giving aid to where it's most needed - to help the world's poorest people".
Mitchell's strong reaction followed a report in the News of the World that £70 million of British aid earmarked for the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan project had "vanished".
"Millions of pounds of taxpayers' money sent to India to educate poor children are falling into the pockets of crooked officials in the country," the newspaper said, claiming that according to a report by India's Comptroller and Auditor General, almost £14 million had been spent on items that had nothing to do with education.