New Delhi: The previous UPA government did not seek help from foreign agencies for “immediate rescue operations” in the aftermath of a natural calamity, but was open to and did accept aid for reconstruction in disaster-hit areas, Sanjay Baru, former media advisor to Manmohan Singh, told News18 amid a debate over Centre’s refusal to accept Rs 700 crore from UAE for flood-hit Kerala.
“Developmental aid rules were changed during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government. What Manmohan Singh said in 2004 was to block the presence of foreign agencies in the country as part of the foreign aid,” Baru said.
“There is nothing that stops the government from accepting aid from foreign countries. Kerala needs long-term rehab and they will need this financial assistance. What is wrong in accepting their (UAE) help?” he said.
Tweeting earlier on Thursday, Baru also cited the "unique relationship" between the Gulf and Kerala.
You are correct. We said no to relief but accepted support for rehab. Also one must distinguish between normal aid and help in disaster. Later more humanitarian. Also Gulf Kerala relatioship is unique. Lots of goodwill for Malayalis in Gulf. @drthomasisaac— Sanjaya Baru (@barugaru) August 23, 2018
Disagree. One must distinguish between normal foreign aid and humanitarian assistance. Also Gulf-Kerala relationship is unique. Indians can take care of relief work but no harm accepting aid for rehab. We give others, others give us. Why act prickly?— Sanjaya Baru (@barugaru) August 23, 2018
The central government had on Wednesday declined financial aid from other countries to flood-devastated Kerala.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE), home to around 2.8 million expatriate Indians, most of whom hail from Kerala, had offered Rs 700 crore.
"The government of India deeply appreciates offers from several countries to assist in relief and rehabilitation efforts after the tragic floods," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in response to queries.
"In line with the existing policy, the government is committed to meeting the requirements for relief and rehabilitation through domestic efforts," Kumar said.
"Contributions to the Prime Minister's Relief Fund and the Chief Minister's Relief Fund from NRIs, PIOs and international entities such as foundations would, however, be welcome.”
Various political leaders from Kerala have appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to allow foreign aid.
Apart from the UAE, Qatar has offered Rs 36 crore and the Maldives $50,000 as financial aid to Kerala.
Meanwhile, Thailand's Ambassador to New Delhi tweeted about India not accepting overseas donations for flood relief in Kerala.
"Informally informed with regret that the government of India is not accepting overseas donations for Kerala flood relief. Our hearts are with you, the people of Bharat," Chutintorn Gongsakdi said.