Bilateral International Relations Multilateral Prelims cum Mains

Kerala floods: Why India turned down ‘UAE offer’ — a 2004 policy, it’s symbolic signal?

The News

  • India has turned down the UAE’s offer of Rs 700 crore monetary supports for flood relief in Kerala.
  • India has also turned down similar offers from Maldives, Qatar and Thailand.


Key Highlights

  • In the aftermath of Tsunami, India changed its disaster aid policy from being foreign aid receiving country to routinely rejecting bilateral assistance.
  • Since 2004, India has refused diplomatic aid from various countries.
  • India continues to reject bilateral disaster assistance despite National Disaster Management Plan, 2016 allowing for it.



Why don’t we accept bilateral assistance?

  • The policy is basically symbolic, to showcase India’s capacity to handle disasters on its own.
  • India’s macroeconomic situation is robust.
  • Accepting from any one government makes it diplomatically difficult to refuse from others.
  • India believes that diplomatic aid from rich to poor has become irrelevant in a globalising world.
  • To shed memories of a past that saw it dependent on US rice during the 1960s to avoid starvation deaths.


External aid for disasters

According to National Disaster Management Plan, 2016

  • Bilateral Assistance
    • The Union government may accept the offer of disaster aid from a foreign country, if the national government of another country voluntarily offers assistance as a goodwill gesture.
    • As seen above India has not accepted bilateral assistance for disasters from 2004.
  • Multi-donor agencies
    • An offer of assistance from UN agencies, India will accept the offer only if the government considers it necessary.
    • UN agencies and international NGOs operating in India are allowed to extend humanitarian assistance.
    • However any financial assistance will require the approval of the Department of Economic Affairs.
    • India has accepted financial aid from World Bank, ADB and UN agencies for Tsunami relief, Uttarakhand floods etc.
  • Individuals and charity organizations are allowed to contribute for disaster relief.

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