Not many global parallels to India’s development aid: Mathai

New Delhi, April 15 (IANS) India’s varied contribution to developing countries in Africa and elsewhere, including helping in capacity building and providing over 150 concessional lines of credit totalling over $9.5 billion, does not have many parallels in traditional North-South cooperation, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said here Monday.

He was delivering the keynote address at the Conference of Southern Providers of South-South Cooperation ‘Issues and Emerging Issues’.

Mathai said 150 concessional lines of credit have been allocated to finance a wide range of projects from drinking water schemes to power plants to technology parks and railway infrastructure in developing countries in Africa and elsewhere over the last decade or so.

He said India’s engagement is demand-driven and responds to the developmental priorities of its partner countries. “India does not attach conditionalities, does not prescribe policies and does not challenge national sovereignty” in its development aid, he stressed.

“North-South cooperation is a historic responsibility while South-South cooperation is a voluntary partnership,” Mathai said.

“In the present global realities, it is self-evident that while South-South cooperation supplements North-South cooperation, it is not yet in a position to replace it in any significant measure. The North-South engagement leads the aid process and should continue to do so,” Mathai said, according to a statement.

India should “resist excessive emphasis being replaced on South-South cooperation as a crucial pillar of the Agenda. We should reinforce the argument that while South-South Cooperation and the voluntary efforts of developing countries such as India would continue to play an important role, it would be a travesty to project them as the principal new component of a redefined global partnership for the new Agenda,” he said.

“South-South Cooperation has to be accompanied by a significant enhancement of North-South aid flows, not their diminution,” Mathai said.

The Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme was launched in 1964 with the objective of sharing India’s knowledge and skills with fellow developing countries.

Along with its sister initiatives, the Special Commonwealth Assistance for Africa Programme (SCAAP) and the Technical Cooperation Scheme of Colombo Plan, they have contributed substantially to capacity building in many parts of the world over the last five decades, said the foreign secretary.

Last year, nearly 9,000 civilians from 161 countries attended training courses in diverse disciplines, conducted by 47 Indian institutions. India offers 2,300 scholarships annually for degree courses in Indian universities.

In addition, special courses are conducted at the request of countries or regions on specialised subjects such as election management, WTO studies, parliamentary practices and public-private partnerships, he said.

At the India-Africa Forum Summits in 2008 and 2011, India committed to establishing about 100 institutions in different African countries to strengthen capacities at the pan-African, regional and bilateral levels.

Indian experts are deputed abroad to share expertise in areas like information technology, auditing, pharmacology, public administration and textiles research, Mathai said.

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