London: ”Why should poor Britain continue its economic aid to rich India?” leading NRI peer Lord Meghnath Desai asked Nitin Gadkari, leaving the visiting BJP president stumped.
Realising that the unexpected question at a dinner at the Prestigious Asia House here last night was basically to seek his views on the on-going debate in recession-hit Britain that the government should stop its development aid to fast developing nations like India.
Britain has been providing around four million pounds worth of aid through various agencies to different Indian states for improving rural health and sanitation, drinking water facilities in tribal areas and primary education in backward area.
Gadkari told the former director of the London School of Economics that the British aid has been very helpful in improving the lot of poor people in backward and tribal areas of India. It has maintained link between the two countries.
But in view of the difficult economic situation faced by the country, if the British government wants to withdraw this aid it is for them to decide, Gadkari said.
He agreed with Lord Desai that India was very much in a position to take care of its problems and that the Indian states should be able to continue the development work without the British aid.
The BJP president said his party favoured Indo-British cooperation in areas like agriculture, irrigation, water management, power, renewable energy sources and infrastructure like rural roads and invited the British companies to invest in the BJP-ruled states on public-private partnership basis.
A large number of British industrialists, businessmen, Lords and legal experts were present at the dinner.
The BJP president was accompanied by Vasundhara Raje, former Rajasthan Chief Minister, Smriti Irani, MP and president of the BJP Mahila Morcha and Vijay Jolly and Amit Thaker, convenor and convenor of the Overseas Friends of BJP.
Earlier in the day Gadkari held an interactive session with the Oxford University students on climate change organised by the UK Youth Climate Coalition (UKYCC).
He also addressed the UK India Business Council (UKIBC) where he explored Indo-British cooperation in skilled management and small and medium enterprise.