Britain re-affirms decision to continue aid to India

London: Prime Minister David Cameron has re-affirmed Britain`s decision to continue its aid programme to India, amidst a row sparked by some ruling Conservative MPs demanding an end to it, and reports that India did not need it.

The Prime Minister`s spokesman said: "We have reviewed our aid commitments to India. We continue to think it is right to stick to those aid commitments. We continue to provide aid to India, but we focus it on the three poorest states".

He added: "The reason we are doing that is because a huge number of the poorest people in the world live in these states. The Government has always been very clear about sticking to its aid commitments and the fact that it would not balance the books on the backs of the poorest people in the world. It is going to stick to that."

International Development secretary Andrew Mitchell yesterday defended the aid, and said: "We will not be in India for ever but now is not the time to quit. Our completely revamped programme is in India`s and Britain`s national interest and is a small part of a much wider relationship between our two countries".

He, however, added: "We are changing our approach to India. We will target aid at three of India`s poorest states, rather than central Government. We will invest more in the private sector, with our aid programme having some of the characteristics of a sovereign wealth fund."

International aid is among few areas that have not been subjected to deep funding cuts by the economically-strapped David Cameron government, which has faced much ridicule and more for continuing to send aid to an increasingly prosperous India.