INDIA (AL JAZEERA) Great Britain has announced plans to cut all aid to India by the year 2015. Under the slogan, “trade, not aid,” the British government has vowed to also cut the number of handouts between 2013 and 2015, allegedly caving to pressure at home over the foreign development budget during a time of cutbacks. According to Justine Greening, the international development secretary, the move will save Britain an estimated $320 million in the next two years and the the move, “recognizes India’s “changing place in the world.” Greening added, “India is successfully developing and our own bilateral relationship has to keep up with 21st century India.” Prime Minister David Cameron and his Conservative government coalition has faced increasing pressure to stop aid to the former British colony, which has seen an economic boom in recent years and can now boast its own space program. There’s been a growing divide between India and Britain with the former recently announcing a big contract to buy French warplanes instead of the UK-backed Eurofighter Typhoon. Also, back in February, then-finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, now the president, reportedly dismissed the aid from Britain as a “peanut.” Aid groups however, are calling the move to cut all aid by 2015 a hasty move. Phil Bloomer of Oxfam said, “Despite the fact India is a country of growing wealth it is also a hugely divided country with extreme levels of poverty and inequality. The scale of the challenge remains huge.”
PAKISTAN (BBC) The Pakistani government announced a new scheme to boost education in the country. The government plans to offer cash incentives to the nation’s poorest families if they send their children to school. The scheme, funded by the World Bank and UK, would reportedly pay $2 a month per child in school to an estimated three million families. This move came before a UN backed, “day of action,” on Saturday to honor Malala Yousufzai, the 15 year old Pakistani girl who was shot on her way to school by Taliban operatives. The goal is to get school places for 32 million girls around the world who are not attending classes. According to the new program, each family will receive cash payments distributed through the government’s Benazir Income Support Program. According to Reuters, those in the program already receive $10 a month for basic needs. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people around the world have signed an online petition calling for Malala to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Other News and Tidbits
A strong earthquake, measuring 6.8, was reported 116km north of Mandalay in Myanmar. According to news reports, the most significant damage appeared to be the collapsing of bridge under construction across the Irrawaddy River in the town of Shwebo. Five people were reported killed.
The earthquake comes a week before a historic visit by President Barack Obama as he heads to the East Asia Summit in Cambodia. The president hopes to encourage reforms and is making good on his promise to focus more on Asia, particularly Southeast Asia in his second term. A U.S. president has not solely visited the region since the Vietnam War. Interestingly while the article mentions Syria and Iran, there was no mention of the drone attacks in Pakistan.
According to visiting Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the Philippines is a “rising Asian tiger,” and is coming into more prominence on the world stage. The visit is said to demonstrate Canada’s confidence in the Philippine economy. Harper also pledged to increase Canadian investment in the country during a meeting with President Benigno Aquino.
Closer to home for me, cracks have been found in two South Korean nuclear reactors. Microscopic cracks were found on the reactors, raising fears about power shortages before winter. This is awesome because in case you didn’t know, it’s really, really cold here in the winter.
The BBC News website has two Features focusing on women in China. The first asks, where are all the powerful female Chinese leaders in the run-up to China’s leadership change? The second wonders if Chinese women really hold up “half the sky?”