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India's preference for Dassault fuels rising anger in UK over aid to India news
06 February 2012

Public unease in London has given way to rising fury in the UK over millions of pounds in aid to India, which is seen to be getting increasingly prosperous. The David Cameron government meanwhile, continues to stick to its stand even as it comes under increasing pressure to stop the aid.   

The clamour to stop the aid rose to a new peak last week, with India going for the French fighter jet Dassault Rafale as against the Typhoon, which is partly manufactured in Britain.

The debate was passionately renewed with two major British newspapers reporting finance minister Pranab Mukherjee's statement in the Rajya Sabha last August that India did not need British aid which, according to him, was "peanuts". "We do not require the aid. It is a peanut in our total development exercises (expenditure)."

Mukherjee's remarks, reported to have been taken from the official transcript of the Rajya Sabha, had not been reported in the UK media at the time, the newspapers said, which fuelled another wave of comments from people demanding that aid to India be stopped.

Reacting to media reports, the spokesman of the Indian High Commission to the UK said, India currently had an aid programme with the UK and it was in ongoing consultation with British Government on nature, future direction, priority and manner of disbursal (of the aid).

The papers also quoted a "leaked memo" which reportedly said that the then foreign secretary, Nirupama Rao proposed that no further DFID (British) assistance be availed from 1 April, 2011 as it promoted negative publicity of India poverty.

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India's preference for Dassault fuels rising anger in UK over aid to India