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Friday, November 9, 2012 - 3:15pm

Britain Halts Financial Assistance To India

Every year, India receives hundreds of millions of dollars from Britain in bilateral aid. But starting in 2015, that will all change. International Development Secretary Justine Greening has announced that British financial assistance is coming to an end, highlighting India's "changing place in the world".

Salman Khurshid, India's foreign minister, had no objections to the announcement, saying, "Aid is the past and trade is the future." India's reaction points to the former colony's desire to be entirely economically independent from Britain. Last year, rumors circulated about India's near refusal of British aid with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee comparing it to "peanuts" of India's development budget.

For the past three years, India has received nearly $362 million annually from Britain, making it the largest receiver of British aid up until last year when Ethiopia took its place.

British lawmakers argue that India its aid is no longer needed, citing India's spending of over a billion dollars on its space program. Skill sharing, technical assistance and focus on trade will replace monetary backing.

London-based NGO Save the Children cautioned Britain, calling the move "premature". Advocacy director, Kitty Arie, told the BBC, "Despite India's impressive economic progress, 1.6 million children died in India last year a quarter of all global child deaths."

The decision comes nearly 70 years after India's independence from Britain.

(Sophia Jones is an intern with NPR News.)

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