LONDON: India’s top diplomat has told Britain that his country does not want to receive UK taxpayer-funded cash handouts and never asked for this financial assistance. YK Sinha, the High Commissioner to Britain, said this weekend that his country had never asked for the estimated £2billion ($2.5 billion) which Britain has given to India in recent decades. He said the former British colony, which was granted independence in 1947, had made “unimaginable” steps forward lately. For example, it now has its own space program. He also explained that while financial help may have been necessary in the 1960s and 1970s, India has moved on since then from importing food to exporting it and indicated that trade and not aid is the way forward. Mr Sinha said: “We are grateful for any assistance we received in the past or will get in the future. If it suddenly stopped would it make a huge difference? No. Did anyone in the Government of India ask for assistance? No. While I don’t want to prejudge British aid, easier access to British markets, easier movement of people and the transfer of technology are more important.”
Britain’s Department for International Development, the government department which is in charge of distributing aid money, said it stopped sending cash to India in 2015. However, plans exist to send a further £130million ($161 million) in “technical assistance” by 2018. Under one of the most controversial UK laws to be passed in recent years, Britain is committed to sending 0.7% of its GDP to foreign nations each year, meaning that the better the UK economy does, the more money it gives away. Currently, it sends about £12 billion ($15 billion) of aid money around the world annually. This has led to some astonishing claims of waste. In his interview with the Sunday Express, Mr Sinha also said that Brexit promised a “win-win” for trade between Britain and India. He said the two countries must focus on better ways of accessing each other’s markets and cutting immigration restrictions.