Global India Policy Paper #1

Enhancing the effectiveness of India’s development partnership practices

Rachna Shanbog
Executive Summary

Providing development assistance to any other country is often seen as a step forward in terms of a country’s political and economic standing in the global hierarchy  (Mawdsley, 2012a, pp. 4–5). In the case of India, a long-term development partner in South-South Cooperation (SSC), there has not been much empirical evidence to demonstrate how its development assistance programme to neighbouring countries enhances the position it holds in the South Asian region.

Despite providing official development assistance (ODA) for more than half a century, it is only in the past 15 years that India has started getting noticed for its development assistance programme, especially by northern donors. Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) nations are increasingly interested in knowing more about the aid policies and programmes of southern donors (Manning, 2006; Paulo and Reisen, 2010, p. 536), including India. Despite this interest, however, so-called ‘new donor’ countries such as China and India have preferred to keep their distance from the OECD-DAC (i.e. OECD’s Development Assistance Committee) structure, and do not report or provide data on the assistance they give to DAC[1] (Kragelund, 2008; Paulo and Reisen, 2010; Mawdsley, 2012b; Asmus, Fuchs and Muller, 2017a).

Indian governments have consistently argued, since the beginning of India’s aid programme, that there is no hierarchy between itself as a donor state and the recipient states that get aid from it. Instead, official India government discourse has emphasised equal partnership in aid relationships, where both nations benefit mutually (Chaturvedi, 2012, p. 558; Chaturvedi et al., 2014, p. 9).

Nevertheless, regardless of such positive narratives and a long-established development assistance programme, the country needs to improve upon its existing ODA strategy. Whatever the intentions or goals (i.e. altruistic or strategic) that India wants to achieve from its aid programme, it is important for the country to enhance the effectiveness of its aid programme in order to be successful in achieving these goals. What follows in the sections below is an overview of the country’s development assistance partnership programme, ending with a set of recommendations for the Indian government to consider in order enhance the effectiveness of its overseas aid initiatives.

[1] DAC collates ODA information provided by member countries around the world.