The current debate on whether foreign assistance should be accepted for relief and reconstruction work following the devastating floods in Kerala is an unnecessary distraction for the Central and State governments at a time of a grave crisis. The need now is to use all assistance, Indian and foreign, to rebuild Kerala. The figures being bandied about will not meet even a fraction of the cost of rebuilding the infrastructure and bringing the State to normalcy. Bilateral and multilateral assistance will take a long time in coming, and the sooner we make up our mind the better. Seeing ghosts of spies, interventionists and terrorists will not help us recover and be productive once again. Dreams of the high table It was the United Progressive Alliance government that decided not to seek external assistance for disaster relief — from foreign countries or even the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross. The context of that decision was India’s superpower dream. It was felt that India should demonstrate that it had the strength to withstand and counter calamities and also help its neighbours, as it did in the case of the December 2004 tsunami and piracy attacks in the Indian Ocean. India had felt that this would strengthen its case for seeking to be a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and also hasten the prospect of superpower status by 2020. Since permanent membership of the Security Council entails additional financial commitment on its part, India’s low level of mandatory contribution to the UN, calculated based on its capacity to pay, was also a matter of concern at that time. India thought it would be beneficial for it if it were to show that it was spending money abroad over and above the mandatory contribution. But the policy of not accepting foreign assistance has not taken India even one step towards fulfilling its ambitions.
Source : https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/get-over-the-superpower-syndrome/article24765161.ece