ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Bridging the Gap

With the rising profile of Indian foreign assistance abroad, its critics and supporters are debating the domestic factors and the role of public opinion in framing this aspect of India’s foreign policy. Critics adopt a high moral ground and ask, how can India pursue its foreign assistance programme abroad when one-fourth of the people in India are still poor? In response to these critics, P S Raghavan, special secretary at the development partnership administration of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), in a public lecture in January this year, pointed out that India’s foreign assistance programme is within the ambit of South-South cooperation. It was kick-started at a time when India was at a nascent stage of economic development and that it took off soon after her own independence. Although this debate is not settled yet, public dialogue on the subject has recently started in India, with the EPW also carrying an article by Supriya Roychoudhury “India’s External Aid: Lessons and Opportunities”
(7 September 2013).

Unlike aid agencies across the world, which aim to raise public awareness about the role of their foreign assistance abroad, the Indian foreign policy establishment has so far shied away from entering into this public dialogue. After all, gaining public support for their work is a necessary task that all aid administrations perform, and they will have to in India too.

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