No policy bars foreign aid, but India keen to display self-sufficiency

NEW DELHI, AUG 22 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 8/22/2018 11:30:37 AM IST

As Kerala is battling the worst flood in close to a century, the Union government is keen to display to the world its self-sufficiency in handling such disasters, with New Delhi refusing to accept aids offered by various countries.

The UAE, Qatar and Maldives have all pledged assistance to India for relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction in the state. 

But high-level sources said that while India was extremely grateful for the offers, its own resources would be used to rebuild Kerala. India will say “thank you” but “no thank you” as internal resources are mobilized. This does not, however, extend to private contributions pouring in from all over the world, given the huge diaspora from Kerala.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the UAE’s prime minister, offered almost Rs.700 crore to Kerala. It was seen as an acknowledgement of the connection between Dubai and Kerala as well as the close ties between UAE and India. Qatar has offered almost Rs.35 crore while Maldives, a country with which India’s ties have nosedived recently, stepped up with an offer of $50,00. Congress MP Shashi Tharoor also landed up at the United Nations’ doorstep in Geneva to ask for aid. 

Ambassador of Thailand also took to Twitter on Wednesday to mention that he had been ‘informally informed’ that India will not accept foreign aid.   

“Informally informed with regret that the Government of India is not accepting overseas donations for Kerala flood relief. Our hearts are with you, the people of Bharat,” Thailand’s Ambassador to India Chutintorn Sam Gongsakdi tweeted. 

According to some reports, even the previous UPA-2 government had declined foreign aid in 2013 when floods struck Uttarakhand.

India, through emails, has instructed all its missions abroad to decline offers of aid from foreign governments for the state of Kerala. Sources say that India, for now, has decided to stick to its 2004 policy -- won’t accept aid unless India cannot handle the crisis, reports India Today.

In a note to the Indian missions, the Ministry of External Affairs has asked the envoys to express “appreciation” but point out that early indicators show that India has the “capacity” to meet the requirements of the people of Kerala.

“If a foreign government makes an offer of help, you may kindly express your appreciation for the sincere sentiments and willingness to assist. The initiative shown by the people of Kerala, other states and from Indian citizens from almost all walks of life who have come together in the time of crisis to supplement the efforts of the government machinery maybe highlighted”, the note says.

Kerala chief minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, Wednesday said that the state government will hold a discussion with the Centre about India declining foreign aid for Kerala floods. He said that the National Disaster Management Plan of 2016 has provisions to accept foreign aid if it is voluntarily offered by another country in times of severe calamity.


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