The question of UK aid to India exploded on the weekend when comments surfaced from India’s finance minister in which he explicitly stated that India no longer wants UK’s aid.

“We do not require the aid,” said Pranab Mukherjee last August in India’s upper house of parliament during question time.

Mukherjee mocked UK contribution as a “peanut” in India’s total development expenditure, adding that the government wanted to “voluntarily” give it up.


With India’s recent growth including upgrades to its military defense, developing its own space program, and expanding health and education services from its own resources, taxpayers across the UK have expressed outrage that their government continues to support a country that no longer wants to be supported and is ungrateful for the support already given.

While Mukherjee gave no reason for why he wanted to reject the UK’s aid, a quick look at the type of population-control-focused aid that the UK gives to India gives plenty of reasons why the country might want out.

UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) was not abashed about its recent ramped-up efforts to alter India’s fertility and birth rates in the name of an initiative titled the “Reproductive and Child Health Programme.” The budget for the seven year program that began in 2005 was £166.3 million or $263 million USD, the second costliest item on DFID’s expenditure list for India.

In 2010, DFID’s chief Andrew Mitchell unveiled the strategy behind UK’s plan to help countries in the developing world. “DFID will now have an unprecedented focus on family planning, which will be hard-wired into all our country programmes,” said Mitchell at that time, adding that the “UK Government is to put family planning at the heart of its approach to women’s health in the developing world”.

The key proposals for UK action included scaling-up access to family planning and making abortion more accessible and more safe.

In 2011, Mitchell clearly indicated the UK government’s approach to foreign aid when it overhauled its policies that included among other things a new strategy to “help 10 million more women get access to modern family planning”.

According to a press release at that time, the DFID’s new program focused on “plans to redraw the aid map [that] will concentrate efforts on countries where UKaid will, pound for pound, achieve the best results in fighting poverty and building a safer world”.

India was one of the 27 countries targeted by the new program.

At the core of DFID’s aid program is a strategy to improve the lives of people by reducing population. Acting on this strategy means for women from the targeted countries to be provided with services that prevent them from conceiving offspring through family planning, or that encourages them to destroy their conceived offspring in a safe and legal way through abortion.

But some scholars and world leaders have denounced the Malthusian-inspired theory that poverty in Third World countries is based on overpopulation, arguing instead that population growth is the key to overcoming poverty.

Political scientist Tom Flanagan from the University of Calgary has called the theory that poverty is based on overpopulation “discredited” saying that “serious scholar [don’t] believes that anymore”.

With India’s vast economic growth and imminent coming-of-age as a developed nation, it is easy to see why the county’s government is eager to distance itself from Malthusian-inspired programs offered by well-intentioned western countries that ultimately hamper, not help, their road to success. At the same time, in many cases India’s government appears to have succumbed to the pro-population control ideology, and it’s impossible to say whether the finance minister’s rejection of the aid is based upon this aspect of the UK’s aid, or some other reason.

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