See More on Facebook

Politics

Recommended by Delhi’s refusal of foreign aid in flood crisis sparks debate

Flood-struck Kerala politicians say national pride should not be at expense of rehabilitation funds.


Written by

Updated: August 29, 2018

Debate on whether India should accept foreign aid in times of crisis has raged on in the wake of the devastating floods in Kerala. The Indian government has refused to accept offers of monetary help, angering many in the southern state as it struggles with rehabilitation work.

Kerala was hit by heavy monsoon rains earlier this month, causing floods in which more than 400 people died. Over 2,600 villages were inundated, leading to a massive rescue and relief effort that saw a million people housed in relief centres across the state.

The Kerala government has estimated that the state, among India’s more prosperous with a 94 per cent literacy rate, needed more than 20 billion rupees (S$389 million) to rebuild everything from houses to roads and bridges.

The federal government has refused offers of foreign aid, saying this is in line with existing policy, and that India will tackle the Kerala floods “through domestic efforts”.

Within Kerala, there is anger that the federal government, which has offered only 5 billion rupees to begin with, has refused foreign aid at a time when the state is struggling to get back on its feet.

Mr Joji Cherien, a village council member from Chengannur, one of the worst-affected flood areas, said conditions on the ground remained tough. “We hope we can survive this. We have to rebuild our state. We need the money. If we can get it from other countries, why should it not be taken?” said Mr Cherien.

Politicians from the state said national pride should not come at the expense of having money for rehabilitation, with Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac calling New Delhi’s policy not to take foreign aid a “dog in the manger” policy.

Parliament’s Upper House MP Binoy Viswam, who is from Kerala, on Monday asked the Supreme Court to intervene and order the government to accept foreign aid.

Kerala is under the control of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), while the federal government is run by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.

Offers of help for Kerala have come from Gulf countries such as Qatar, which has reportedly offered US$5 million (S$6.8 million), and the United Arab Emirates, which has offered help but did not spell out the amount.

Kerala has a special bond with the Gulf. Of the seven million Indians working in the Gulf countries, more than 2.5 million are from the southern Indian state.

The Maldives has offered 3.5 million rupees.

Those who support the policy that India should not accept foreign aid said it was a matter of national pride to be self-sufficient.

The government is seen to be continuing the policy set by the previous administration led by prime minister Manmohan Singh, who had refused to accept foreign aid and managed with domestic funds during the 2004 tsunami which devastated coastal parts of Tamil Nadu and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

“There should be a distinction between developmental assistance, which is regulated, and humanitarian assistance, which is a spontaneous reaction of the international community to international disasters like a flood, famine or tsunami. The government should not adopt a rigid view,” said former foreign secretary Lalit Mansingh.

Arab expert Zikrur Rahman said: “It is a matter of pride that we are a strong economy and we shouldn’t take aid. But this time the state government wanted the money and the central (federal) government didn’t. This has created concern that politics is being played.”

But others said it was up to the Indian government to decide.

“The Indian government has adequate funds to address both emergency relief and long-term recovery of Kerala after the flood disaster. While acknowledging gracious offers of help from foreign governments, this is the Indian government’s job, which it must do and be seen to do,” said Mr Nitin Pai, director of Takshashila Institution, a non-profit organisation.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


About the Author: The Straits Times is Singapore's top-selling newspaper.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Politics

Civilian rule officially restored as King swears in Prayut II govt

The government is made up of many of the same advisors and ministers as the previous military government. The new Prayut Chan-o-cha government was sworn in on Tuesday during a ceremony overseen by His Majesty the King, signalling the return of civilian rule after five years following the military coup in 2014. The ceremony took place at 6pm in the Amphorn Satharn Throne Hall, where all 36 ministers were present. In a break with tradition, however, television cameras were not on hand to record the event. The historic occasion marked the first time that HM the King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua, as head of state, together with Queen Suthida Bajrasudhabimalalakshana, has overseen the advent of a new government – the King’s first event of such kind after his Coronation in May. Also new was the venue for the ceremony, which has previously been held in the


By Cod Satrusayang
July 17, 2019

Politics

Hong Kong government blasts riots

Hong Kong police chief blasts Sha Tin violence which leaves six people seriously injured. Embattled Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam broke her silence on Monday afternoon (July 15)  to condemn “rioters” and praise police after violent clashes on Sunday night that left two people in critical condition and four in a serious state. Mrs Lam said the police had acted “professionally” and practised “restrain” in dealing with the group of protesters who hung around New Town Plaza shopping mall in Sha Tin, hours after a rally had ended. Speaking to the media at a Tai Po hospital, where six officers are still being treated, she said the police’s duty is to uphold the law and those who broke the law have to be taken to task. “Hong Kong society will not condone such violence,” she added. Secretary for Security John Lee, who also visited the hospital, told reporters


By The Straits Times
July 16, 2019

Politics

Hong Kong protests: Chaos speads to Sha Tin mall after rally ends

Protests continue, this time against Chinese vendors. Violent clashes between law enforcers and some protesters erupted yet again on Sunday (July 14) following a largely peaceful march hours earlier in the New Territories town of Sha Tin. About three hours after the rally ended at 5pm, police in riot gear began clearing the streets, setting off a game of cat and mouse with them and protesters trying to corner one another. Tensions peaked at about 9.30pm when officers armed with shields and batons entered New Town Plaza mall in Sha Tin and tried to disperse the crowd that was hiding there, resulting in chaos. Police officers were seen chasing after a protester, hitting him with batons and ripping his clothes off as they tried to pin him down before he managed to flee to safety with help from fellow protesters, who were trying to dodge pepper spray. Elsewhere in the mall, protesters surround


By The Straits Times
July 15, 2019

Politics

India asks Commonwealth to readmit Maldives

Maldives pulled out of commonwealth under previous administration over human rights concerns. India has called upon for fast-tracking the process of readmission of the Maldives to the Commonwealth. This was conveyed by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar at the 19th Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers’ Meeting (CFAMM) in London on Wednesday. “The External Affairs Minister, in his remarks, congratulated the member countries on the 70th anniversary of Commonwealth. He also noted that India is well on the path of fulfilling all the commitments made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at CHOGM 2018. The EAM called for fast-tracking of the process of re-admission of Maldives to the Commonwealth,” the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement. New Delhi’s support for the Indian Ocean archipelago came weeks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Male on his first overseas trip after being re-


By The Statesman
July 12, 2019

Politics

Japan’s export curbs fuel political feud in S. Korea

Seoul is in political turmoil as politicians tackle the best course of action to pursue with Japan. Japan’s decision to impose export restrictions on key hi-tech semiconductor and electronics materials to South Korea is having a political fallout here. President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday reiterated Seoul’s position that the measures are politically motivated, while criticizing Japan’s attempt to justify its actions by linking them to sanctions on North Korea. “The Japanese government is taking measures that impact our economy for political goals, and making comments that link (the measures) to North Korean sanctions without any basis. It is not beneficial for bilateral relations and security cooperation,” Moon said at a meeting with leaders of South Korea’s largest corporations on Wednesday.


By The Korea Herald
July 11, 2019

Politics

Thai cabinet announced and endorsed

Former coup leader and despot will be prime minister and defence minister. The appointment of new Cabinet members headed by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has been endorsed by His Majesty the King. The list of the 36-member new Cabinet was announced in the Royal Gazette on Wednesday and countersigned by Prayut, who was reappointed prime minister on June 9. Prayut will also double as Defence Minister, a key position currently held by General Prawit Wongsuwan, his deputy in the outgoing government. Prawit will retain his position as a deputy prime minister and is expected to also be in charge of security affairs. The new Cabinet also has eight other ministers who have worked with Prayut and Prawit in the current post-coup government: Somkid Jatusripitak, Wissanu Krea-ngam, General Chaichan Changmongkol, Uttama Savanayana, Don Pramudwinai, Suvit Maesincee, Sontirat So


By The Nation (Thailand)
July 11, 2019