print logo
  • Username:  
    Password:  

Why 'booming' India still needs aid

 INSP 21 February 2019

If even Susan Boyle gives up chocolate for a month for India, it’s got to be a serious matter. The Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF) has convinced the world-famous singer –alongside other Scottish celebrities- to join their annual ‘Wee Box’ Lent campaign. (533 Words) - By Danielle Batist

Share

Why ‘booming’ India still needs aid

Susan Boyle bakes pancakes on 'Shrove Tuesday' to mark the start of SCIAF's 'Wee Box, Big Change' Lent campaign, 21 February 2019.Photo: Paul Mc Sherry

SNS_The other side of Indias IT capital (part 1) 2

A homeless man begs for money in Bangalore’s rush hour.Photo: Simon Murphy


Boyle kicked things off today with a Shrove Tuesday pancake baking session with school children in Edinburgh and will now be saving her daily sweets budget in a 'wee box' for a month. On April 6 she -and the rest of participating Scots, including The Proclaimers, broadcaster Kaye Adams and football managers Ally McCoist and Neil Lennon- donate the money to SCIAF, who will use it to support vulnerable people in India.

And that begs the question: why India? SCIAF's announcement to raise money for the world's largest democracy follows a fierce media debate last month where Britain's International Development Minister Alan Duncan was asked to defend the country's aid budget. On popular tv programme Question Time he faced a Taxpayers' Alliance member arguing that the budget should be frozen to save money, particularly in a time 'when all the other budgets are cut'.

Can a country with an economic growth of 8 per cent, a booming IT industry, nuclear powers and a space programme not look after its own citizens? With even Duncan acknowledging that 'India has made huge strides in tackling poverty in recent years', it seems at least a valid question to ask. But looking closer at the statistics and the reality on the ground leads to only one answer: no. Or, at least, not yet.

The main reason for this lies in the sheer volume of the problems faced. With a population of 1.2 billion, India has more people in poverty than the whole of sub-Saharan Africa combined. It is, of course, debatable what poverty actually means. Judging by the World Bank's 1.25 dollar per day measurement, 42 per cent of Indians are poor. Raise the bar to 2 dollar per day and 76 per cent of the country falls into this category.

The widely respected United Nations Human Development Report uses a more complicated method, which includes factors like housing, sanitation, child mortality and education. This index classes over 680 million Indians as poor- more than half the country.

With such huge numbers to address, India's own government aid schemes fail to reach out to the many remote corners of the vast country. Corruption across all levels of government also causes problems in the delivery of the country's development budgets.

Spending time with some of India's poorest citizens last month, the on-going need for aid was obvious. In the slums of Bangalore, children with polio crawl the dirty streets because they have no mobility aides. Women with mental health problems get the devil beaten out of them by local healers. School-aged boys work in metal workshops to feed their families. In Jharkhand, one of the three poorest states, single women struggle to feed their children. Having lost their husbands due to illness or neglect, they face a life of harassment and abuse.

With help from local charities, supported by SCIAF and others, these people have a chance to escape poverty. It won't be until the huge poverty gap is closed that the country can stand on its own two feet.

To join SCIAF's Wee Box campaign, visit www.theweebox.org or call 0141 354 5555.