Although there is no published, centralized data, or even agreement on the definition of Indian "foreign aid," if one uses the Development Assistance Committee's official definition of aid, India disbursed over $1.5 billion in traditional foreign aid in 2011 - second only to China among developing-country donors - even while it remained the world's largest recipient of multilateral assistance.
The rise of India's soft power
India's soft power has now been on display for at least a couple of decades: Indian philosophy has captivated Western minds since the 1960s; Bollywood's prodigious celluloid fare has long drawn huge audiences in significant parts of Asia, Africa, and beyond; India's English-language novelists have often edged out native British writers for the prestigious Man Booker Prize; and, of course, yoga studios have become all but ubiquitous in the United States. However, even South Asian scholars and analysts have thought of India's largesse as a possible source of material power, especially in the realm of foreign assistance.
With U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton having visited India this week in an effort to secure its cooperation on a range of international issues, it is time to start thinking of India not as a beneficiary of the world's charity (though it still is) -- but as a major donor. Although there is no published, centralized data, or even agreement on the definition of Indian "foreign aid," if one uses the Development Assistance Committee's official definition of aid, India disbursed over $1.5 billion in traditional foreign aid in 2011 -- second only to China among developing-country donors -- even while it remained the world's largest recipient of multilateral assistance.
Indian foreign assistance has not only tripled since the turn of the century -- with foreign aid by the five BRICS countries growing 10 times faster than aid by G-7 countries -- but it has also grown in terms of the diversity of recipients.
India also recently announced that it will be creating its own aid agency and has built an administrative structure, the "Development Partnership Administration," within its External Affairs Ministry toward that end, though there has not yet been any budgeted increase in the diplomatic corps.
- Readers can access the complete article from the Foreign Policy website, here.
- Rani D. Mullen is associate professor of government at the College of William & Mary and is currently a visiting fellow at the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi.
- Sumit Ganguly holds the Rabindranath Tagore chair in Indian cultures and civilizations and is a professor of political science at Indiana University, Bloomington.