In what seemed to be the largest contribution to help Kerala recover from the floods, UAE on Tuesday offered aid worth Rs 700 crore. The amount is bigger than what has been offered by the government of India so far i.e. Rs 600 crore. Indians across social media appreciated the gesture by the country. However, soon reports came out claiming that the centre is likely to "politely refuse" the financial assistance offered by the country.
“The central government is of the stand that Kerala can take help from individuals abroad. But if any government is ready to help, we should not take it,” Business Standard quoted a senior official from the finance ministry of Kerala in its report.
Besides centre's assistance of Rs 600 crore, many other state governments, corporate firms and individuals have also contributed to the relief fund.
While in a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, the state has also decided to demand Rs 2000 crore in a special relief package.
Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan has pegged losses from the flood at Rs 25,000 crore. At a time when the state is in dire need of money, centre's decision to turn down UAE's offer could spark debates.
Meanwhile, we take a look at why Kerala may not be able to accept the largest contribution to its flood relief fund.
Where does India stand in terms of receiving foreign funds?
In 2003, in his budget speech, the then finance minister Jaswant Singh announced change in India’s aid policy, claiming to be intended to raise India’s global profile.
The specifics of the new policy said, "India would not accept any tied aid (that which is provided on condition that use is made of the lender's resources) in the future."
"Having fought against poverty, as a country and a people, we know the pain
and the challenge that this burden imposes," he said in his speech.
However, the policy shifted from the NDA government and came more forthrightly under the UPA government in 2004 during tsunami.
Since then, the government has been turning down the aid offered for several disasters. “We are following the policy since 2004, and have been turning down assistance from foreign governments since then. In Kerala also, we are sticking to that policy,” a government source was quoted by The Indian Express.
According to the report, until the new policy came into effect, India had accepted aid for the Uttarkashi earthquake in 1991, Latur earthquake 1993, Gujarat earthquake 2001, Bengal cyclone 2002 and Bihar floods July 2004.
In line with what Jaswant Singh said in his budget speech, prime minister Manmohan Singh in December 2004 said that the country could deal with such situations on its own and would take help only if required.
However, since then the centre has followed the policy despite the fact that 12,000 were killed and lakhs were displaced during tsunami.
“Firstly, the governments since then have felt that India has the capacity to handle disasters like these. And secondly, accepting from any one government opens the floodgates for others as well, and it would be diplomatically difficult to refuse from some while accepting from others,” a source told The Indian Express.
While assistance from the governments is denied, donations from individuals and charity organisations are accepted, added the Express report.
According to the report, the country in the past has refused to accept assistance from Russia, US and Japan in 2013 during Uttarakhand floods, for Kashmir earthquake in 2005 and Kashmir floods in 2014.