Thursday, April 19, 2012


Foreign assistance is mired with corruption

India has been receiving billions of dollars through foreign direct investments which have not only got invested in the Indian economy but have also added towards the growth of the same. But the same has not been true in case of foreign assistance specifically meant for social development. Foreign assistance aka foreign aid meant for social upliftment has rarely found itself fulfilling its very objective, for which it was meant. The aid has been often found redirected towards other causes and most of the time siphoned off into the bank accounts of corrupt officials. As per the latest Word Bank report, “aid programs are beset by corruption, bad administration and under-payments.” A huge amount has also been redirected from poverty alleviation to CWG construction which was again marred with corruption.

Corruption in aid has been ubiquitous and encompassing. So much so that UK based NGO – ActionAid found irregularities in aid that were meant for housing construction for Tsunami victims and reported that “across tsunami affected areas of India, just 28 percent of the total 98,447 required houses have been built. In the Andaman and Nicobar Island, where 9,174 homes are needed, reconstruction so far is less than one per cent.”

This is just not one discreet case. Every Indian is well versed with damages caused by monsoon (floods) every year. No one would have found a better use of disaster than our authorities. The administrators actually wait for such disasters to happen so that they could capitalize on the same. As per CAG’s findings more than Rs.1.40 crore were diverted for non-flood programs during the monsoon of 2005 and 2006 in Maharashtra. In the same lines, in Orissa, Public Works Department officers rampantly redirected funds (estimated to be around Rs.12 crore) for other purposes which were fundamentally allocated as cyclone relief fund. Similarly, funds meant for earthquake relief in J&K and Kerala saw the same fate.

This embarrassment crossed the national borders when British government had to finally probe into the expenditure for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. The probe finally revealed (rather exposed) that “millions of pounds [sent as aid by UK’s government] of aid for education and the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan that has disappeared into the depths of corruption without any benefit to the poor children". The authorities shamelessly embezzled around £340 million and had spent a huge amount of money in purchases of luxurious commodities that had no distant connection with education. After the expose, the UK government decided to curtail down foreign aid to India. A couple of years back, World Bank found irregularities in five of its health schemes which were being implemented in Orissa and adjoining states.

Embezzlement of funds which are meant for poor in itself is a big crime and if it is to do with international aid then it is a huge erosion of trust at the global level. Moreover, since these aid/assistance are announced for a specific purpose and for specific time period, corruption at any level fundamentally defeats the very purpose. For instance, Tsunami funds that were poured in India from numerous sources, finally exposed in being misused which eventually killed millions of hopes and thousands of lives. Same goes for almost all developmental aid be it for education, health, AIDS or malaria. And above all, such act comes at a huge cost and for us it has been a bulwark of embarrassment at a global level.


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