Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

India shunning small European donor countries.

The Hindu - 16 July 2003

By Batuk Gathani

The story doing the rounds among India-oriented, European Union Parliamentarians and officials is that India has suddenly opted to shun financial and technical aid from all but six nations in a quest to shake off its image as a country in need of handouts.

Over a month after India's decision to dispense with some 22 developed countries from the list of its donors to prune its dependence on foreign money, the move has triggered a debate and raised some eyebrows in European forums.

According to the European media reports, India now accepts so-called "Government-to-Government" aid from a club of six donor countries - the U.S., Britain, Russia, Germany, Japan and France.

There is speculation in India and abroad that the small European and foreign donors often package their aid with sermons about human rights, corruption and good governance.

Currently, India is confident thanks to Foreign Exchange reserves of some $82,000 millions and India is also emerging as a significant aid donor to third world poorer countries in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia. India's current economic growth hovers around six per cent and has modestly rising exports in a recession prone global economy, but its economy also displays signs of resilience and even better management, as more Indian companies venture into foreign markets to seek better trading and investment opportunities.

Simultaneously, India is also keen to improve its global profile as a creditworthy country, which is restructuring its $54,000 millions worth international loans and paying off multilateral loans early. The cynical perception in some quarters is that India may be seeking world power status with a permanent United Nations Security Council seat backed by an influence and power-based niche in international financial forums.

These perceptions are often echoed in forums of the European Union and Parliament. Charles Tannock, a British Tory member of the European Parliament, told The Hindu that both India and the European Union shared common ideals of multi-party democracy based on the rule of law and economic system structured on principles of free- market economy and that India was already the world's largest democracy.

He recently initiated the launch of "Friends of India Group" in the European Parliament, which has been started with the cooperation of some 30 European parliamentarians from different political parties and the 15 European member- states.

Dr. Tannock, who has steadily espoused India's cause in the European Parliament, is also convinced that with the proposed expansion by European Union from 15 to 25 member-states by May 2004, there will be more interest in Euro-Indian relations with prospects of more members in the "Friends of India Group". Dr. Tannock particularly thanked Dinker Srivastva at the Indian Embassy here, who is posted to Libya in September as India's Ambassador.