An interesting point made by many people after my last posting about India is that India is, according to them, a poor country that needs our support, which is why we are given them £825 million.
Looking on the internet though brings up some useful information about what India considers to be its priorities. Unlike the UK government, India does not consider its poor to be its main concern. Instead, an expensive nuclear programme is India's number one issue.
India gets away with not supporting the poor in its society because we (the UK) does it for them, and what happens to this money the Indian government saves ? It goes on weapons. India could introduce a proper education system throughout the country with the money it spends on nuclear weapons, but alas no.
According to the South Asian Journal ;
"A very conservative estimate of the cost of an Indian nuclear weapons programme suggests that at a minimum this would costs Rupeess. 800 billion over a decade at 1998-99 prices, or Rs. 700-800 billion a year. This is equivalent to an incremental cost of 0.5 percent of India's GDP every year. The dollar costs over a decade on an Indian nuclear weaponisation programme will be around US$. 16-19 billion (at the average 1998-99 market exchange rates) or US$. 81-93 billion (at the 1999 purchasing power parity, PPP, exchange rate). The larger component in these costs would be the outlays on delivery systems (missiles and nuclear submarines) and on a command and control system.
To give an idea of the financial implications of a Rs. 700-800 billion Indian nuclear weaponisation programme spread over a decade:
India's defence expenditure (revenue and capital) in 1998-99 was Rs. 398.97 billion, which was equivalent to 2.23 percent of GDP. (If India had begun a 10-year programme in 1998-99 to complete development of its nuclear arsenal then this would have raised this outlay by about 20 percent.)
The Government of India's own tax revenues in 1998-99 were Rs. 1046.52 billion. This means that every year 7-8% of every rupee collected as taxes would have to be used for creation of the nuclear arsenal.
An Indian nuclear weaponisation programme that would cost 0.5 percent of GDP a year is equivalent to the annual cost of introducing universal elementary education in India. This 'high' cost was for years cited as one of the reasons for not universalising elementary
education in India. The question then is of choosing between sending every Indian child to school and acquiring nuclear weapons, both of which are going to make similar financial demands on the Government of India. Although India's Parliament in 2001 enacted an amendment to the Constitution guaranteeing elementary education to every Indian child, the initial financial allocations suggest that the government is giving a greater importance to nuclear weapons than to universal elementary education."
I do find it odd that the Lib Dems who argued against me are in favour of getting rid of the UK's nuclear weapons but support us giving £825 million to India whist it spends $19bn in US dollars in its nuclear programme.
If another person writes a comment telling me India is poor when it could afford £10bn in UK sterling on weapons then they are living in cloud cuckoo land.
I am not against UK overseas aid, but I want to see it spent on poor areas which don't have £10bn to waste on weapons, not on rich countries that care little for their own poorer citizens.