Dodgy development: DfID in India

February 10, 2010

by Richard Whittell. Source – Corporate Watch

In the last ten years, the British government has given £200 million in aid to the north-eastern state of Orissa. This aid has been conditional on the government of Orissa agreeing to undertake, with the Department for International Development (DFID) and the World Bank, “a program to reform the business and direction of government.” In this fourth part of the Dodgy Development: DFID in India series, through a film and two transcribed interviews, we see the wider effects of British aid and hear from people who are refusing to leave their lands to the South Korean steel company, POSCO, one of the many multinational mining companies that have come to the state following the DFID-initiated reforms.

Sudhir Pattnaik is the editor of the Oriya magazine Samadrushi, a political fortnightly which has reported and examined Orissa’s reform programme supported by British aid. Here he talks about the DFID’s influence in the state, its role in the opening up of the state to multinational mining companies and the resistance these reforms have provoked.

Richard Whittell
: The DFID says all its policies are developed in tandem with the Government of Orissa, and that they, with the World Bank, work in partnership together. Their country plan for India described its support as “providing funding directly to state budgets in support of broad programmes of core budgetary, governance and sectoral reforms within a sustainable fiscal framework.” They have funded Government of Orissa projects and programmes in health, education, public sector reform, livelihoods and many other sectors. How influential is the DFID in Orissa?

Sudhir Pattnaik: We call it a DFID colony. The common saying is that the DFID is into everything that concerns the governance of the state of Orissa. In every sector you will find the presence of the DFID. “this comes from the DFID” is the standard response you get from bureaucrats. I even knew someone very high up in the Vigilance Department, at the rank of Inspector General. He was sharing with us, that at the beginning of every week he gets a memo saying the DFID wants this or that.

This is not acceptable to anybody who has a sense of democracy. We do not accept a foreign government department coming here and dictating and influencing government departments to do this and to do that.

Do you have any examples of this?

Their support for the whole industrialisation process, for example. The DFID and the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) together conducted many consultative workshops and prepared a blueprint for the industrialisation of Orissa. They wrote and funded the 2001 Government’s Industrial Policy Resolution and, with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), they wrote the Government’s 2006 Resettlement and Rehabilitation Policy.

What have been the consequences of this?

The mineral sector has grown enormously. Vedanta, POSCO, Tata, the Jindals; all such companies have come and people are not accepting them or their promises to rehabilitate and resettle people who have to leave their lands for them.

For example, the government is trying to use this Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy [in] the POSCO proposed area, and in the Vedanta one also. They are using it throughout the state. They say it’s a very progressive policy. They say they are doing it with good intentions, to help people rehabilitate after displacement. But people want more. Land [given in return] for land is not [part of] the policy and the government doesn’t have any will to accept a radical rehabilitation policy. This policy doesn’t guarantee land for land but focuses on compensation. For people who are not used to money wages, if you give them Rs500,000 it has no meaning compared to their land.

Suppose I own land worth Rs500,000. I get that from you when you displace me. That ensures I get exactly the market price for my land. Then I go somewhere else and buy another patch and settle down. But when I go to that place, people know I have that money, so immediately the value of the land doubles. I cannot even buy half of the size of the land I used to own.

But don’t people choose to sell their lands voluntarily?

How can it be voluntary? It’s never voluntary. Either you are forcing, alluring or misleading people. It does not take into account the socio-economic profile of the area. For example, let’s say I’m a landlord. I own five acres of land in an area but I live elsewhere. I decide to dispose of my land because I get a great opportunity when the Tata steel company comes. I wouldn’t get such a good price otherwise. So I decide to sell off my land. But in my five acres of land, five different families live. They’ve been cultivating there. If I dispose of my land how will they survive?

Are there any stipulations for people who don’t own land?

There are some but they’re not enough and are not addressing the main issue. The biggest landowner in Orissa is the state. More than 75% of the land in south west Orissa, for example, is government owned.

But the real owners are the tribal people who have been working it for centuries. Because they haven’t had the land titles settled in their favour, the state claims it is the landowner but in actuality the people have owned the land for centuries. Then the state and the companies take over their land. Now their entire livelihood system goes and there is no provision to support that. The DFID’s Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy does not recognise this reality.

And the DFID has funded and provided technical assistance to the expansion of the Hirakud dam. Initially, the plan was to supply water to farmers. But now what is happening? Farmers are not getting water. In 2004, 20,000 acres of land didn’t get water. In 2008, 50,000 acres of land didn’t get water.

Why is this happening? Because Hirakud water is being taken by the mining companies who have come to the state: by Vedanta for its aluminium plant, by the Jindals and by anyone who has an industry in Sambalpur. They have signed a Memorandum of Understanding which says that 478 cubic feet per second of water will be taken from the Hirakud to be given to these companies, which will mean another 50,000 acres of farmers’ lands will be unwatered.

They say that there is enough water from the Hirakud dam to supply to industry and people. People say the reality is they are not getting water. So this is a design to privatise water resources and infrastructure so those who are running mostly extractive industries will benefit.

And, if you come to the core point, what is the DFID’s understanding of development in Orissa? If you see the kind of development happening in Orissa at the moment, it means developing only industries and mineral-based industries. This is further reduced to four major minerals: coal, aluminium, bauxite and iron. In a state where more than 85% of the population live on agriculture, forestry and fisheries resources, do you think only mineral-based industries can be accepted as the model of development?

How many people in the state will benefit from this? All these minerals are water and energy intensive. Which is why the DFID and the World Bank wanted the energy, power and water sector reforms.

And one of the DFID’s first projects in Orissa was the power sector reform, which saw an American company take over part of the distribution supply?

Yes, it was claimed that people here did not have any knowledge or authority about how to reform the power sector so we needed a company to help us. Who decided which company would help? The DFID.

Orissa had a power sector board before the DFID came. Why was that not up to the task of providing electricity?

There was never any need for help from outside; there was knowledge with engineers and technical people guiding the board. But then the board was dismantled and restructured and the supply line decentralised and all this was designed with consultants engaged by the DFID. Decentralisation and privatisation go together. Decentralisation can mean further democratisation but this didn’t happen here. It means giv[ing] the power supply to private companies.

I have seen the reports on the power sector reform and written about it and I think any commerce graduate in accounting can do better accounting than the experts they sent.

What was the process?

The reforms were pushed by the World Bank and the DFID jointly. They dismantled the state electricity board. They created distribution companies. They also privatised the power generation corporation. They invited foreign bidders.

What have the consequences been?

Higher prices, lower returns to the state. The state is paying, people are paying; so who is gaining? The unit cost of electricity is going up and up. These companies are not paying back to the state. Last year, they spent more than Rs100 crore (£14.6 million) from the poverty eradication program coming from the centre to the state to support the power supply distribution.

So, this is ridiculous. Who is gaining? People are not gaining, so what is the meaning of these reforms? This is what people are asking: what is the meaning of the development they are proposing, and should the World Bank and the DFID patronise this? And for whose interest? Certainly not the interest of the state of Orissa.

Was there any resistance to this?

People are opposing mega projects at the local level. In certain areas of the state, such as the areas where the multinationals are trying to displace people, we are getting the real picture of the reforms and people are fighting back.

And there was a campaign against these destructive reforms in 2002 and for two years we campaigned against the World Bank and the DFID. Many organisations came together: progressives, socialist groups, trade unions, mass organisations. It was called the Campaign against Destructive Economic Reforms. All the privatisation attempts we challenged. We courted arrest. When the DFID and the World Bank were sitting with a group of consultants in the Hotel Crown we were demonstrating outside and there was a huge demonstration in front of the DFID office.

What was the response?

They said they weren’t doing anything on their own, that the Orissa State Government had invited them.

But they’re still here?

Yes, and each reform is part of a whole plan. They want to minimise the role of government and maximise the role of private players. It’s not possible to do that directly so you create a process where gradually government’s role is minimised and in come private players.

Where are the politicians and the political parties in this process?

We don’t have political parties. They claim to be political but they don’t try to understand people’s problems. They are not in tune with people. They only come out during election times and there is no difference between the ruling parties and the opposition. They are all the same. Nobody expects them to play a significant role so in mainstream politics and you don’t find anybody who is opposing this development paradigm. The left is opposing it but they don’t have a proper base.

In the last sixty years no political party has really thought about how to develop the state. Therefore anyone can come with a bag of dollars and say, ‘Do this and we’ll help you’. And many NGOs also attended the consultation sessions they had for these reforms.

Which NGOs?

Those NGOs that do not have any record of working with the poor. There are maybe a few NGOs that are critical, but one or two NGOs raising their voices doesn’t have any real significance. Ultimately, in the proceedings you don’t see any dissenting voices– it looks like they are all in unison. If there are exceptions they don’t get a seat at the table.

Mostly, the NGOs are with the state. Mostly, they are quite comfortable with the state and they don’t raise any critical questions. Some of them have been kicked out and blacklisted because they raised critical questions. ‘If you are not with us, you are with our enemies,’ that kind of thing.

So, should the DFID have played such a role in Orissa?

If the DFID hadn’t had a role, nothing worse would have happened.

But isn’t there an argument that says even if the DFID isn’t promoting the best policies, nonetheless money given by the British Government is providing money for things like healthcare that, given the lack of will of the main political parties, wouldn’t otherwise exist?

I think if you’re putting money in the wrong way it doesn’t make a good impact. For example, in health sector development they are often providing for infrastructure that isn’t being used, so what is the point in putting money in? It requires a social plan but there isn’t one. Health was never a priority sector for this state government. When somebody comes with a big money bag and says ‘I will support this’, the government will, of course, say, ‘Yes’. I’ll tell you one example. I was invited by a committee to inspect the city’s main hospital. I went there to see and discuss it with the chief medical officer. He took us to see the intensive care unit. It’s supposed to be the most active and dynamic unit. When we approached the unit, we saw a cat sleeping. We went in and saw six beds and life support units but there was no-one using them. All this equipment was bought because companies had been contracted for it, but there was no manpower to operate the machineries. He said the government wasn’t thinking about how to run it. And this is happening in all other areas. When the DFID and World Bank come in, the only concern of the state government is to buy equipment.

The Department for International Development is part of the British Government and foreign aid is presented very positively and is seen to be doing good.

Similar perceptions exist about our government. We Indians feel very proud that our government gives money to some smaller south Asian countries. The kind of damage they are doing we don’t take into account. But if governments and the people are genuinely interested to serve another community, the support must be totally unattached and unconditional. The most important thing is whether that state has a plan to develop itself.

I put this question to a government minister. I said try to recollect any time in the past when you have sat for two days to think about the state and how to develop it. He said they’d never done that. So if you’ve never thought about it, how can you have a plan? I don’t think it’s acceptable. In a democracy you have to plan from below and that is not happening.

Would that be possible with foreign aid?

Foreign aid should not be in the picture at all. In certain areas, if you lack resources maybe you could think about it. But have you explored all the resources at your disposal? Look at these mining companies that are coming in – they will pay a tiny amount of tax to the state on the resources they mine then sell. If any government did that, no funds would be required from outside. They are looking for the easy way out with foreign aid.


Abhay Sahoo is a leader of the people’s campaign fighting South Korean steel company POSCO in its attempts to displace people from their lands to mine the iron ore that lies beneath. He was interviewed in the village of Dhinkia in eastern Orissa.

Richard Whittell: Why are you fighting to stop POSCO coming here?

Abhay Sahoo: As everyone knows in the year of 2005, on 22nd June, the Orissa State Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the company POSCO, of South Korea, to set up a steel mill, with investment of Rs 52,000 crore (approximately £7 billion).

Since then the people of the proposed area – in the three areas of Dhinkia, Gadkujang and Nuwagaon in the district of Jagatsinghpur – have been conducting this resistance struggle against the POSCO steel mill, and we have formed the POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (POSCO Resistance Struggle Committee), of which I happen to be the chairman, and have been conducting this battle against POSCO and safeguarding our motherland and fertile soil.

You see, we are not against industrialisation but industrialisation at the cost of a guaranteed agricultural economy. This area is a coastal area with very sweet sand, underground sweet water and it is full of sand dunes. The coast of the Bay of Bengal has a very special kind of sandy soil. People have been growing betel vine there which happens to be a most profitable item of agriculture and it is an employment generating agriculture. It gives a very handsome income to the cultivator’s family, and provides both direct and indirect employment. So people do not want to part with the betel vine cultivation. In addition, it is producing foreign currency for the state exchequer as it is an item of export. Apart from betel vine, people have cashew nuts which are also profitable items and apart from everything else, people have a very dense forest and a very beautiful ecology.

So, the people of the area have been struggling tooth and nail and heart to safeguard their motherland and fertile soil. It will be a very serious ecological catastrophe. Not only that,If the forest is not there, it will lead to more problems. The thousands of fishermen here depend on the sea mouth through which the entire surplus water is being drained. They catch fish there. And the paddy lands belonging to thousands of agricultural families will be submerged in water. And once the forest is gone, the sand dunes will be gone. There will be no sand dunes. It is the forest and the natural processes which have made the high sand dunes, not the man.

But the other side of the coin is that the company, in connivance with the administration, has imposed violence many times on the peaceful protestors against POSCO. We call this state-sponsored violence.

Do you have any evidence for these allegations of violence?

On 29th November 2007, the anti-POSCO people were on strike at the main entry point to the district. Hundreds of men and women were there, democratically and peacefully protesting against the POSCO officials. But POSCO hired anti-socials. Their officer, who was a senior civil servant, hired the anti-socials who took the help of the little pro-POSCO camp in the area. The district administration also extended its help and together they blasted seven bombs at the peaceful strikers.

Many innocent men and women were injured. Still people are suffering from those injuries in this village. And, as Dhinkia has become the bastion of the anti-POSCO struggle, as many as 450 men and women here have been implicated in more than 90 false legal prosecutions. For me, though I am from this block and this is my area of operation, I have been underground and unable to go to my native village and see my family for three years. Many of the anti-POSCO leaders have been underground for three years.

POSCO is trying to sabotage the movement, they are trying to suppress the movement. They have hired goons and anti-socials, they have started beating the anti-POSCO fighters, they have looted the anti-POSCO fighters’ houses and they have done many injustices to the anti-POSCO families. In one thing POSCO has been successful and that has been in creating a pro-POSCO camp. They have politicised the struggle, they have tried to disrupt and they have tried to break the struggle.

But the more they have tried to break the struggle, the more people have become united because they have such affection for their own livelihood. There is a historic and dialectical relationship between life and livelihoods and our struggle is based on a scientific analysis of the livelihood aspect of this locality. So apart from everything, our struggle has withstood the situation The war is young.

After four months the Orissa Chief Minister and the POSCO chief announced they were to lay down their foundation stone on the 1st April 2008. On that day the patriotic forces from across the country were invited to be united and we broke all barricades erected by the police. So, the anti-POSCO people have come to the limelight and taken control of every village again. If they come into this area they will face mass obstruction and mass demonstrations.

Now the government has suspended many anti-POSCO fighters who have been in government service. In Dhinkia, they have suspended one central government employee who was a postmaster and they have suspended a high school teacher. They have taken revenge on anti-POSCO families and have started an economic blockade. They have stopped supplying commodities, such as kerosene, sugar and rice.

So these are the things we are facing. But, to achieve our objective and to champion the cause of the people, we must lead this struggle to its logical conclusion until POSCO is forced out.

What has the DFID’s role been in this?

One thing is very clear: the DFID is dictating the principles and the rules of the state government. The DFID is putting tremendous pressure on the government to invite the multinational companies and private companies, to go for the private sector, domestic or foreign. And the DFID is very keen on privatising all the government and public sectors.

What is your opinion of the proposals contained in the DFID-funded Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy?

As you know, the state government has adopted the Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy 2006, which it claims is the best one, and POSCO has announced some additional packages.

The policy means that one who loses the homestead and agricultural land will be given due compensation for the recorded land as per the value of local area and he will be given, if displaced, three rooms for his family and will be given employment in the company or, if he doesn’t have requisite qualifications, will be given compensation.

There are many people living here who do not have formal property rights to the land they are living on and are technically living on government land. What will they get from the policy?

They won’t get anything. The company says the government is the owner, so there is nothing to give the people who are living on the land. And to satisfy people, POSCO has announced an additional package of Rs 6000 per decimal of land. But that is nothing for the betel cultivator and people are not interested.

So, if the Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy was implemented, people who do not have their own land would not be compensated?

You see one thing. You can come to a very scientific conclusion if you know the structure of the land. POSCO is to acquire 4,004 acres of land. There is a population of 22,000 with 4,000 families. And out of the 4,004 acres, 3,566 acres are government land!

The 2006 Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy is an anti-people and anti-development policy. And the state government has written it under instruction of the DFID. You see, the Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy is not meeting the demands of the displaced and affected people; the employment aspect, displacement aspect and the compensation for land losers. People are suffering and will suffer more if they accept the Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy 2006.

The company has not yet acquired an inch of land and we have refuted this Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy, which has been formulated in connivance with the DFID. It is not a welfare policy for the people. And our movement is 100% opposed to this policy. Not only is this the policy of the state government, but it is also the policy of the DFID.

After this interview, one man was killed in clashes with Pro-POSCO supporters. Abhay Sahoo was arrested and held for ten months on a variety of charges. He was recently released on bail.

Impact of British aid money on rural communities and agriculture in Madhya Pradesh

By Richard Whittell. Source – Corporate Watch

Eshwarappa M and Richard Whittell’s series looking at the role of the British Government’s Department for International Development (DFID) in India continues with a film and two interviews assessing the impact of British aid money on rural communities and agriculture in the central state of Madhya Pradesh. The film compares the DFID’s publicity with the opinions of people directly affected by it. The interviews – with Bijay Pandey, a representative of a people’s movement, and Sachin Kumar Jain, a journalist – give an in depth insight into the type of development the DFID is encouraging. 


Bijay Pandey is the Secretary of the Adivasi Mukti Sangathan, a people’s organisation in Western Madhya Pradesh. Here he talks to Richard Whittell about the Madhya Pradesh Rural Livelihoods Project, to which the British Government has given £60 million through its Department for International Development (DFID).

To give a bit of context to all this, could you explain the food situation in Madhya Pradesh?

The western and northern parts of Madhya Pradesh are drought prone areas. The scarcity of water is rampant and the farmers don’t get enough to cultivate their crops. Secondly, there are still many forested areas.

Previously, Madhya Pradesh was a princely dominated state. Except for the princes, very few people had land at that time. Politically, Madhya Pradesh was ruled by all these ex-princely, high caste and high class people, and they did not look after the agriculture. Since then, land redistribution has not taken place even when there have been progressive laws. Because of this, Madhya Pradesh is a state where more than 75% of people are malnourished (and this is getting worse as the government is promoting Special Economic Zones, and suchlike).

Ten years back, the government said it wanted to tackle the Dalit landlessness question, but they saw the landowners didn’t want to redistribute their land. So, they redistributed the common land – that land which is used for pasture and cattle feed – for common use. In every village you will find some land marked out for common usage. According to the law, 7.5% of total village land is common land. But invariably you will find that the common land is occupied by high caste and high class people. So, the tussle started between Dalits and high class and high caste people.

So, the food question is very serious, and that is precisely why people are migrating, and the whole of western Madhya Pradesh, the Adivasi areas, are malnourished. In one district there is an estimate that 200,000 people are migrating to other areas. Go to any village at these times and you’ll only find old people and dogs. So, this is the situation.

And now, [laughing], the government is promoting jatropha in what they call the wasteland. Initially, they said this jatropha will be cultivated in the wasteland.

Now, one must understand the concept of the wasteland: poor people generally depend on some sort of cultivation on this wasteland, so when it is taken away, for this kind of cultivation, you can understand what the food situation will be.

Secondly, the government’s whole Public Food Distribution System is absolutely mired with corruption and irregularities. People are not getting good foodstuffs from it. Low quality, rotten foodstuffs are being provided. So, that is the situation in Madhya Pradesh.

How is this jatropha being promoted?

If you ask people in the project they will tell you it is doing whatever the gram sabha (the village council of all the people over the age of 18) suggests. But, even though our movement is present in so many districts around the state, I have never come across a gram sabha with a full quorum.

They say whatever the gram sabha says they follow, but they are saying wrong things. It is never done: they ask people to take it, they persuade people. They identify the sarpanch (the village ‘headman’) and they persuade him to grow it. He then persuades others. In each village five to ten people are getting into the jatropha promotion programme. They are persuaded by the subsidised price and that they don’t have to worry about it once it’s planted as no animal will touch it. They have employed some people and taken the help of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), who are involved in this persuading and popularising. In this way, they popularise this jatropha. In all their rural livelihoods programmes jatropha will be one of the things they are pushing.

And the jatropha is subsidised. The government says they will subsidise it and procure it directly from farmers. They say it is being popularised because it doesn’t need much water. If you grow food crops you need water. Now the government is promoting it, but people are not very enamoured by it and prefer to grow their own millets. Then, when it is grown, the jatropha will be converted into diesel and petrol and the companies and the middle men will collect the money.

What has the British Government’s role been in all this?

Its role has been important in this and in setting the conditions for the project. Maybe five years ago they started the Poorest Areas Civil Society Programme. They identified small groups of people in the village and the NGOs started working with them. It gives them a credibility. But they are silently destroying the community spirit of the village.

For example, in the Adivasi areas, they will not work with all the villagers. Through their funding they will create a disparity: only some people will benefit from it. You will find that the people they are working with will grow at the cost of other people in the village. All these external agencies are creating cleavages in the village. Of course, there was disparity before, but with these programmes they are creating more disparity.

But they are saying that encouraging the production of crops like jatropha will aid food security.

[laughing] How could it? Jatropha is not for the stomach. It is for cars and vehicles!

I think the idea is that they can grow it and then sell it for food.

They can buy food?

With the money from the jatropha.

Where? From their neighbour? It has not occurred anywhere! During our school-days, we were told that sugarcane is a very good crop. At that time it was popularised in a very big way. Now you go and see in those areas where people are growing sugarcane: they call it a hunger crop. In Latin America they will say these are all hunger crops. Because, see, when you sell something, that is regulated by the market; the local market as well as the international market.

In the international market the people have no say or no control over it – it can go up and down like the Sensex [the Indian Stock Exchange]. Now we see that even many people who are investing their money in trusts or stocks are going bankrupt and dying. So, how can it promote food security? I don’t understand. In the era of globalisation, areas are being identified where people don’t grow food crops. The food crops will be grown by a set of people far off from our place and they will provide us with food. Through this we will lose our food sovereignty. Why are the farmers in Punjab getting into suicidal acts? Why in Andhra Pradesh? All the rich farmers are doing that. So when they can’t manage, how can our marginal farmers and small farmers manage?

So the way these people are promoting jatropha – it is not for food security. Food security is a terrible problem throughout India. There are studies which indicate we’re getting into a very similar situation to sub-Saharan countries, particularly in the central tribal belt of India. So, how can we have food security and more money? Who knows what will happen to these biofuels. It’s another agenda to colonise us.

You asked before about the DFID. Our understanding is that the DFID has never worked for poverty alleviation. They want to perpetuate poverty because they want to expropriate the natural resources of third world countries, but with a human face. But through this, more and more people become exploited.

Let me quote the British Government’s explanation of how it is working with the Government of India: “The DFID is providing resources and expertise which can help overcome some of the stumbling blocks to rapid progress.”

No, no, no – what expertise? They employ these rootless people, these consultants, who manufacture these policy documents and so on. They don’t have any expertise. They want to legitimise their presence by manufacturing the consent of the elites. Who are these experts? One day they are working for the Asian Development Bank, the next day they are working for the International Monetary Fund.

And now the international NGOs are taking the DFID’s funds. They will create a hullabaloo about something, let’s say pollution. They are the front-runners of the DFID. They are all apolitical people but they are only thinking about money.

People talk about development, but for the last sixty years of this ‘development’ 57 million people in India have been displaced by these development projects: big dams, mining companies and the like. They displace so many people, but how many people do they support? The World Bank and the DFID are part of the globalisation process. They are the front runners of private capital.

So, should the DFID be in India?

No. Aid is not needed. It is an extension of national and international politics and it serves their interests. We don’t need it. We have enough resources.

The British people should ask questions of the DFID, they should expose their dark deeds. They should be put on trial before the UK people, who should see that all the external agencies are involved in dirty tricks.

Of course now it is not just the individuals that work there: they have built up a system and the institution should be brought before the British public. But there is so much international pressure for aid now. Everyone is saying ‘aid, aid, aid’ and talking of corporate social responsibility. There are big pop concerts and other such hullabaloo.

So, this is a complicated world, but I think if the DFID were to be examined by common people in the UK, it’d be good.


Sachin Kumar Jain is a journalist based in Madhya Pradesh and a member of the national Right to Food Campaign. Here he talks to Richard Whittell about the British Government funded Madhya Pradesh Rural Livelihoods Project, as well as the Department for International Development’s general role in the state and the consequences of the reforms it is encouraging.

We’ve heard a lot about the cultivation of jatropha through the Madhya Pradesh Rural Livelihoods Project (MPRLP), but I spoke to one of the project commissioners in the Department for International Development’s offices in Delhi, and she was very reluctant to talk about that part of the project. She was keener to talk about the wheat grinding machines, wells and things like that that have been paid for. So did it start with the less controversial livelihood [projects], then move onto the biodiesel?

Madhya Pradesh is one of the three poorest states in India. The British Government, through its Department for International Development (DFID), came to Madhya Pradesh and said they wanted to support a poverty eradication programme. Initially, it wasn’t very big and it covered around 200 villages in 14 districts in the first phase.

So, the project started and the strategy was to form self-help groups among the most marginalised and poor communities. They did this directly in some areas and in other areas they contracted non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to do it. They could access money from Rs20,000 (£275) to Rs200,000 (£2,750) and would start livelihood generation activities, such as wheat grinding, vegetable markets or shops, or be provided with livestock, such as goats and cows. Sometimes small farmers would be provided with seeds.

There was a district office for the project. They’d coordinate all the plans for the different blocks and then release the money to village gram sabhas (village councils). The entire monitoring and formulation of the plan would be in consultation with NGOs or the project body that was there.

The publicity for the project talks a lot about the empowerment it will bring to people as they take control of their own livelihood choices.

Our analysis of projects such as this is that they promote empowerment in a non-political way. They simply talk about economic activities. They don’t see how it will be sustainable, or how economic empowerment will result in political or social empowerment. They are diverting the entire development debate, from a political and socio-economic concept to a superficial economic development one. Because poverty is so extreme, economic activities can be welcome, but there is no social change process. Therefore, it is creating lots of problems.

So this is one thing.

The second thing is that these groups are not involved in people’s organisations or movements. They become like a funded group, created only to use some money and, maybe after the project has finished, it will dissolve.

I’d like to share one more example with you.

The project is now implemented in 24 districts and, in the last two years, they have been employing lots of social work students in different districts. These students are oriented in such a manner as everything is emerging from economic inequality. They are paying between Rs10,000 and Rs12,000 (£140 to £165) to the block level officials. That’s a very good salary here and even the NGOs are unable to find employees, because this project has taken them. They’re throwing money at people. They’re providing laptops to everybody. There were 700 laptops when the project started! I am sorry, but a laptop is not the primary requirement.

Staff that I’ve spoken to who went into the villages say that everything is governed by the collector [a Central Indian Government appointee who is in charge of the governance of a district]. An example staff members themselves have told me is that the ruling political party asked the collector to organise food for 1,000 people. He said to the project staff, you give me money from your project as it has so much of it, and we will say we have organised a community consultation. We will say this much has been spent on photocopying, this number of people have been given food, and so on. There are many other examples. I even know of political party posters that have been published through the MPRLP!

And now, on top of this, as you mentioned earlier, a major problem has been the pushing of the production of jatropha, the biodiesel.

In Madhya Pradesh, jatropha cultivation as a whole, not only that in the MPRLP, has increased from 1,000 hectares to 100,000 hectares in the last 3 years. The government has decided to devote almost all the so-called wasteland for the production of jatropha, and has specifically asked the MPRLP to use all grazing or wasteland available within the villages for the production of jatropha. And now they are producing linkages between different companies involved in biofuel production.

Earlier there was a push for re-forestation in the wasteland but that policy wasn’t followed because we need to increase food production. In 1998-9 malnutrition amongst children in Madhya Pradesh was 54%. In 2006, according to the national health survey, it was up to 60%. Anaemia among children is around 74% and it’s increasing.

So, food grains have to be produced. But they are saying poverty is an economic issue so people need to earn money, so they are saying jatropha should be produced, or BT cotton or soya beans. All the cash crops will be produced to earn money because, they say, only money can eradicate poverty.

How is it encouraged?

Well, for one thing, the government is saying you won’t get subsidies if you’re producing wheat, only if you’re producing jatropha.

And there’s another important thing in the same context. Recently, we were listening to the India Prime Minister, who said we should produce items which require no water. What does he mean by this? He means new technology, new seeds, new theories coming into the agriculture sector.

In livelihoods programmes such as this, we see that traditional livelihoods are not protected. New seeds are promoted, but the local seeds have just gone invisible. The character of Indian seeds and traditional seeds was that you could keep them for a hundred years and you will not find any problem with them. But the new ones you can’t keep for two years – they will become unproductive and there will be other problems. But the old seeds – the maize and so on – they are invisible now. In the present context you can only get seeds produced by the companies. For every crop you will have to go to the market and it is increasing the cost of the production.

And once you’ve gone down this route there’s no turning back?

The farmer has no option. It’s a very strategic process. You kill the options, then you make money.

The British Government is keen to stress its aid projects have been designed through consultation with a wide range of different groups. Its website, for example, says, “when developing policies, DFID recognises that consulting with a wide range of interested groups helps to ensure that the impact of its proposals on different sectors of society is taken into account.” How has this worked out in this project?

Well, this is another critical issue. One day you will find in the paper that this or that programme has been launched. There is no consultation.

And in general this democracy talk is interesting. Under the MPRLP, when NGOs are signing contracts to take part in the project, they have to sign that they will not oppose any government project or policy. So, where is the democracy in that? There’s none in this clause. They can’t raise their voice.

The DFID says these policies have been started after consultations with a wide range of groups.

This is an absolutely wrong thing they are saying. They consult specific character groups – often groups who are funded by the DFID and who do studies for the DFID in Madhya Pradesh. For the most part, only those organisations that are getting funds from the state government or the DFID are getting invitations to those consultation sessions.

I have been to these consultations as I know some people in government who are not happy with what is going on so they invited me. I find I’m the only person who is sitting there raising any kind of question.

Very recently I was in a consultation on a nutrition programme, which the DFID provided support for. There were around 100 people participating, out of which more than 85 were government officials: all the district officials were there, with all the babus and clerks and deputy directors, and so on, and also DFID officials and consultants, with some DFID and government-funded organisation representatives.

Why are the bureaucrats happy to go along with this?

Initially, what happens is a very academic process. Government officials will be selected to draft policy documents and they will take them on a world tour. They’ll travel to the US, Canada, UK and they’ll go to different workshops and programmes, and so on.

And, these bureaucrats will think, ‘Oh my god, they are so knowledgeable’, and they will start applying all these policies in Madhya Pradesh and orient the cabinet and politicians to it. They will say, “Here are our PowerPoint presentations: if you follow them monthly income will go up, efficiency will increase”, and so on. But, of course, to do this the basic system will have to change.

I can’t call that civil society consultation.

And, then there are the consultancy companies they employ to give ‘technical assistance’ or advice on how the project should work out. Throughout you will find it is the DFID that has decided who will be the consultant. In every sector – irrigation, power reform, road reconstruction, infrastructure development – wherever the DFID is supporting – they will choose the consultants.

Even in the MPRLP, from top to bottom, they decide the consultants and on what line they will go. And, it’s very easy to push any policy accordingly. For example, I have twenty internal documents prepared under the project – all prepared by an external consultant – which is talking about the non-timber forest produce and how it should be utilised.

I’ll give you an example from another project also. I have this document [shows it] written by Development Alternatives, a Delhi-based consultancy company, which was consulted by the DFID to be the consultant for their Poorest Areas Civil Society programme.

This is a programme which the DFID has given £20 million to and will give more in the future. They produced a study for the Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh. In it they say they want to, “promote the establishment of water markets that encourage water trading between farmers themselves and also with urban and industrial users.”

So, in this document, they are pushing water to be seen as a commodity. So, everywhere you will have to pay and the cost of agricultural production will go up. In the last 15 years, everybody is seeing a big market in the water sector. There should be a few essential commodities which you cannot market, which should be community-owned, but your DFID is promoting the water market. Theoretically, they don’t respect how natural resources are community-owned and controlled. It will lead to a monopoly in the water market, which means if you have money you will get water, otherwise you will not get water.

So, there are two faces to this: on the one side they have explained a problem, then they are giving a solution, which is their own, and which is defined and created with organisations like the DFID, together with organisations like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and so on.

I always ask: why, if India is such a fast growing economy, why are the grant institutions and the development banks increasing their investment in India? Because they will see they will get back their money back from the Indian resources. Not from the Indian people. 76% of the Indian population does not get a food intake of 2,400 calories per day, so individuals or the general population can’t contribute, but the resources – forests, water, minerals – can.

And, that is why you are going to the tribal areas, because 80% of minerals are in those areas where the tribal people are living. Why do we see displacement largely in tribal areas? Because that is where the minerals and natural resources are. Until you kick them out of that village, you can’t get to the resources.

And, if you are taking them out, you are then free to cut down the forests. You are ready to mine, take the minerals and you don’t need to worry about the environment, the rains, the monsoons, and so on.

We see the face of the East India Company in the DFID now, which came to India 300 years back, and started doing business, with a little welfare, and then controlled the entire nation, and ruled India for 200 years. Still, people see India is full of natural resources – I may not have money in my pocket but I have huge resources. So, companies like Monsanto, Cargill and other multinationals and institutions, like the DFID, see these resources.

Though, of course, this is not just the DFID. The Government of India is into the same things. I received very interesting information from a government official. He said that in the last 55 years, the Government of India has cut around 10 million acres of forests, but have not generated even one million. And, you can see it in the global market now. At the moment currency is not working, but resources will always work and in India you will find resources. It may seem a bookish statement, but there is no limit to greed. So, you have to adopt some strategies to get in and welfare is one of them. But what is happening is a very dangerous thing.

Nevertheless, it is still surprising, to me anyway, that the British Government, after all it’s done here, is allowed to have so much influence.

They are not at all respecting the democratic system of this country. The MPRLP, for example, was not approved by the legislative assembly of Madhya Pradesh

So, who approved it?

The Rural Development Department

Which, presumably, isn’t a cash rich department?

No, because rural development is often a very under-funded department.

So, if an organisation like the DFID comes offering a lot of money…

They will be celebrating Diwali!

If the DFID wasn’t giving this money they wouldn’t be able to run livelihoods projects?

That money can be found, it is just a question of priorities. In the last two years, the Government of Madhya Pradesh has signed Memoranda of Understanding with multinationals worth 2.5lakh crore rupees (£34 billion).

And what is the government providing them with? Who will earn from the forest, mining and water reforms? They are providing these companies’ subsidies – excise subsidies, water subsidies, power subsidies, discount taxes, and so on.

This kind of investment will supposedly create employment opportunities and development. But this investment is not going to provide employment to more than 50,000 people. All the factories will be mechanised and the like so it won’t impact positively on the lives of most people.

And where do the parliament and the elected representatives fit into this process?

You just see one thing. The Power Sector Reforms Project, supported by the DFID and the Asian Development Bank, has been in full flow in the last ten years. One of the first things was a law that there will be a power regulatory authority that will decide the rent and prices, and so on. All these things are now decided by the power regulatory authority in Madhya Pradesh.

Which is an independent body?

Yes. It came into existence by an act passed by the Assembly, under the Congress Government in 1998. Now it decides everything. As for the role of dissenting elected representatives: there was a problem that they’d made a substantial hike to electricity prices for the wheat grinding machine holders. A group of elected representatives went to the Chief Minister – it was Digvijay Singh at that time – and said, “Sir, see this thing: these people only make Rs1,500 per month, but they are receiving bills for Rs2,500 every month, so they can’t survive.”

You know what he said? The Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh said, “I can’t do anything. You just have to go to the power regulatory authority and file your appeal there. What I can do? My office will not oppose you, but we can’t decide.”

So, the power regulatory authority has more power than the Madhya Pradesh assembly!

And, the bureaucrats do well out of this also. The Chief Secretary, the bureaucrat who drafted the power regulatory authority bill, who was heading the group of bureaucrats who were pushing for these entire power sector regulations, became the first chairman of the power regulatory authority and he was the chairman for four years, so there are ways for them to benefit.

When you speak to DFID staff you’re speaking to people who feel, to varying extents, that they’re part of an anti-poverty process. Many would balk at being compared to the East India Company and so on, and it’s noticeable that the DFID presents itself, and is often seen as, an NGO or development agency, rather than a department of the British Government.

You’re suggesting there might be some development professionals who believe in the work they are doing. I’m saying our debate is with institutions, not individuals. There maybe good or bad individuals, but what they are doing, they are doing it for an institution. So, the question is what is the motive of that institution? Definitely the DFID is a tool for the British Government’s foreign policy. And who is motivating, who is pressurising and influencing the UK Government? Like the Indian Government, it is of course controlled by certain interests.

The Indian government is made up of a lot of politicians and bureaucrats who have worked in the World Bank and other international financial institutions. The Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia; the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh; the current Home Minister and former Finance Minister, Chidambaram, are all the former servants of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, so you can expect they will come with similar interests.

And you can see, the Planning Commission plays a very crucial role in Indian governance. Everywhere you see the Planning Commission. It directs 33% of the India budget: they decide where it goes. And it is not a constitutional body. It is deciding these things outside of the Parliament. Within its office there is a section for the international financial institutions.

So, the DFID is playing from a very high level of the system. They are doing a lot to this country but they are above our democratic process.

It’s like someone is coming to my house and saying, ‘I will take care of everything. You just sit and see’.


Part 1

India is the biggest single recipient of British aid, with £1 billion spent between 2003 and 2008 through the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID). This article, written for Corporate Watch, introduces a series of short films and interviews about the DfID in India to be published over the coming weeks, which were shot by Whittell and Indian activist Eshwarappa M during a trip to various parts of the country affected by British money. Their experience meeting people whose lives have been directly affected by DfID activities, as well as evidence and opinions provided by activists, academics, journalists, state employees and DfID staff, did not tally with the claims made for British aid by DfID’s publicity.

Development opportunities

“I believe our approach offers the best hope for reversing the conditions that lead to hunger and division, and for building a more prosperous, just and stable world.” – Tony Blair, 2003

“Foreign aid is not needed. It is an extension of national and international politics and it serves their interests… Our understanding is that the DfID has never worked for poverty alleviation. They want to perpetuate poverty because they want to expropriate the natural resources of third world countries, but with a human face.” – Bijay Pandey, secretary of the Adivasi Mukhti Sangathan people’s movement in the central state of Madhya Pradesh

The Department for International Development (DfID) was set up in 1997 by the newly elected Labour government, which took it out of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and gave it a minister of cabinet rank (currently Douglas Alexander). Both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have made much of their commitment to ‘fighting poverty’, which has brought them far more praise than their other foreign policies.

In their audit of New Labour’s record in government, Polly Toynbee and David Walker, for example, describe the DfID as “the department of Labour’s conscience.” While decrying New Labour in 2008 as “the most rightwing government Britain has had since the Second World War,” George Monbiot nevertheless felt the increase in foreign aid was a “real achievement” that “deserves to be celebrated.” Earlier this month, the UN’s Kevin Watkins claimed that “whatever your take on New Labour, its credentials on development are impressive… As a nation we have become more generous in our dealings with the world’s poorest people, moving from the lower leagues to the premier division of leadership on poverty reduction.” Mindful of the sheen of humanitarianism that foreign aid brings, David Cameron has promised to maintain DfID’s budget if the Conservatives win the May elections.

DfID in India

“Because a third of the poor people in the world live in India, this has been DFID’s largest country programme for more than a decade. In a country of this size, it is a bold ambition to give every mother the healthcare she needs to give birth in safety and raise a healthy child, to give every child a chance to learn and enough food to eat.” – International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander

Between 2003 and 2008, India received £1 billion of British aid money. At the beginning of 2009, the DfID released its new country strategy for India after Gordon Brown, flanked by smiling children and the odd Bollywood star, committed to giving another £850 million until 2011.

The DfID works both at the national level (in support of the Indian government’s centrally sponsored schemes) and at state level in Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, often in conjunction with other development agencies such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. It has its head office in New Delhi and state offices in Bhopal, Bhubaneswar and Kolkata.

According to its India brochure, the DfID’s priorities have been “strengthening the capacity of government to develop and implement pro-poor policies; promoting increased investment in education, health and water; supporting programmes which help poor people improve their own livelihoods and promoting sustainable management of the earth’s resources.”

With these priorities in mind, this article provides a brief introduction to the five parts of our series about the DfID in India.

Smile for the camera

The first part looks at a DfID-funded Rural Livelihoods Project in the central state of Madhya Pradesh. Through this project, people have been encouraged to grow the oil-bearing jatropha plant on their common land, described by the project as ‘wasteland’, and sell it to companies to make biodiesel. Among these companies is the British biodiesel company D1 Oils, which is currently cultivating jatropha, together with BP, on 350,000 hectares around India.

The project staff and documents claim that the choice to grow the jatropha has been made democratically, by all members of the village. However, the vast majority of people we met –in an area recommended to us by one of the project staff as one of the ‘best examples’ of the project’s democracy in action- said they had not been involved at all in the decision-making process and did not think they would benefit at all from it, as it was taking up the common land many of them depended on for grazing and resources. The only person who was unambiguously positive was the village headman’s brother, who we were taken to meet by the NGO that had been contracted to implement the project in the area.

Of course, the dissenting voices were not meant to be heard and we were only able to record interviews with people who had not been shown the script beforehand as Eshwarappa and Madhuri Krishnaswammy, a member of the Jagrit Dalit Adivasi Sangathan people’s movement present in the area, who we had met on the way, were able to nip away from the main tour and speak to people without the NGO staff watching over their shoulders. In an interview after this, Krishnaswammy told us:

“This participatory process is almost entirely on paper… village elites are persuaded to form a small group and they’re persuaded that this will be good for them in the future. There has been no informed consent. And in these villages I don’t know personally of any single village where there has genuinely been a village council of a substantial body of adult members participating in that, sitting, discussing, thrashing things out, thinking about it and then taking an informed decision. I don’t know of a single village where that has happened.”

The project, therefore, seems to have reinforced a decision-making structure in the village that had never been representative of the majority of the people who live in it, while, at the same time, enmeshing the interests of the village leaders with those of international markets. But with testimonies from people like the one given by the headman’s brother, and the positive evaluation conducted by bodies contracted by the DfID, the whole area is used as a statistic to show how many people British aid money has reached.

The new Raj

The next part of the series scrutinises the claim that DfID’s public sector reforms have helped state governments become more ‘pro-poor’.

The government of the north-eastern state of Orissa signed an aide memoire with the World Bank and the DfID in 2000, in which it was guaranteed World Bank and DfID money to address its fiscal deficit, as long as it undertook “a program to reform the business and direction of government.”

The reforms have, indeed, done that, though their greatest beneficiaries have not been the majority of people in the state but multinational mining companies. In conjunction with a series of reforms commercialising the water and power sectors, the Industrial Policy Resolution and the Orissa Rehabilitation and Resttlement Policy, jointly written and funded by the DfID in 2001 and 2006 respectively, encouraged companies such as Vedanta, POSCO and Tata to come and mine the bauxite, coal and iron ore under the state’s lands, paying rates of tax that do little to fill the state’s already depleted coffers and displacing thousands of people.

In an interview, journalist Sudhir Patnaik explains:

“We call Orissa a DfID colony. This is not acceptable to anybody who has a sense of democracy. We do not accept a foreign government department coming here and dictating and influencing government departments to do this and to do that. And if you come to the core point, what is their understanding of development in Orissa? If you see the kind of development happening in Orissa, it means developing only industries, mineral-based industries. How many people in the state will benefit from this?”

The reforms provoked a wave of resistance as people refused to make way for this particular development vision. The campaign of the people living in the areas wanted by South Korean steel company POSCO is the subject of our second film, in which Abhay Sahoo, the secretary of the anti-POSCO movement, explains:

“For the last three years, the people of these areas have been conducting a struggle for their fertile soil… we are 100% opposed to the POSCO and we refute the rehabilitation policies of the state government, which were made in connivance with the DfID, which has privatized the government and the public sector of our state.”


Funding for education is the subject of the third part of the series. The £200+ million given for education turns out to have gone to a central government programme that has led to a continued decline in the quality of government schools, over-burdening teachers, and building schools that lack basic infrastructure such as functioning toilets, and generally demeaning the value, spirit and ambition of the public education system.

When shown quotes from Gordon Brown describing how much a DfID-funded programme has reduced the number of children out of school, Anil Sadgopal, professor of education at the University of Delhi, asks:

“What reduction is he talking of? In order to prove you are succeeding, you count the number of children on registers, and say, a-ha, they are there! Enrollment is not equal to attendance, and attendance is not equal to learning… Are these things not important in British schools? And yet prime minister Brown says remarkable progress is being made. What criteria is he using?”

Mrs Manjula, a parent in a low-income area of Bangalore, explains in the film how, as the public school system declines, more and more parents have to spend a significant amount of their income to send their children to the fast increasing number of private schools:

“Before, government schools would give a good education… but now, if you want your children to do well, you have to send them to private schools, even if you can barely afford it.”

Power to the people?

Among the most regularly quoted achievements of British aid in India are the power sector reforms that the DfID funded and administered with the World Bank in the states of Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. The claim that they have created an ‘up-to-date’, ‘efficient’ and ‘financially sustainable’ power sector is disputed in the fourth part of the series. Terms such as these obscure the fact that this financial sustainability has only been achieved by commercialising and privatising the sector, leading to increased disconnections of people who cannot afford to pay the markedly higher prices that result. People living in a slum in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, show us how these disconnections have forced them to tap into power lines from the local government offices as their only source of power, only to be cut off again by the ‘crackdown on theft’, which the DfID claims is another achievement of the reforms. The secretary of the employees’ union, which was ignored in the discussions regarding the reforms, tells us:

“The reforms were based on cutting the cost of the supply, not the needs of the people. This was advocated by consultants brought in by the DfID. We have pleaded that electricity be treated as an essential service that you cannot apply commercial principles to… The employees were never consulted by the DfID; the unions were not taken into confidence and the consultants brought in by the DfID did not listen to people with experience of the ground reality of the situation.”

Neutralising resistance

While most of the DfID’s money goes through the Indian government, some of it also goes through NGO’s and the ‘third sector’. And it is this funding that is the focus of the last part of the series.

The DfID has funded a range of NGO’s and organisations through its Poorest Areas Civil Society programme, which the department claims has promoted “greater realisation of citizens’ rights and entitlements.” There is an increasing body of evidence that this funding is depoliticising groups and making them more pliant in the face of western corporate encroachment, as they become dependent on funding that prevents them from taking ‘controversial’ positions. Roma, a member of a non-funded people’s movement argues:

“Groups should not take their funding. Women have re-taken thousands of acres of land without any funding… if we take this money, we will lose this agenda and sit in air conditioned rooms talking big about poverty. There are resources within the people. We got our independence and there was no funding agency; there was no DfID!”

In addition to this, the DfID funds so-called third sector partnerships to promote sustainable enterprise. This short film looks at the Business Partners for Development project in the Sarshatali area of West Bengal. NGO’s chosen and funded by the DfID were hired to tell people who lived in the area that, if they sold their lands to the Integrated Coal Mining Limited company, they would be rehabilitated and jobs would be provided. Ten years later, people are sick from the pollution caused by the mine and displaced from their lands; the promised hospital has not materialised and the few that were given jobs in the mine are fighting for tolerable conditions and acceptable pay. Swaraj Das, the secretary of the union set up for the people affected by the mine, tells us:

“We want to tell the British people that the tax that they are giving to the DfID and other such organisations for the development of poor countries like India is being given for the company. No money has been spent on the rehabilitation of the people. When the money is not reaching us at all, none of us can use even a single penny of that money, so it has no value to us.”

In response to a Freedom of Information request about the success of the project, the DfID told us that “a replicable model was developed.”

Quit India

It is true that New Labour has given more foreign aid than any other British government, but the key question is not how much it is spending but what it is spending it on. Just as New Labour’s reform of public services in the UK has not been compromised by lack of funds but by an ethos of commercialisation and privatisation, effected by a bureaucratic, centralist state, so the ability of the aid to live up to the claims made for it has been ring-fenced by policies that put profits for some over the well-being of the majority; policies that are carried out with little concern for the views of those affected.

This has been challenged throughout India, though. The DfID’s and the World Bank’s influence provoked a Campaign against Destructive Economic Reforms in Orissa, while people’s movements such as the Jagrit Dalit Adivasi Sangathan challenge projects like the Madhya Pradesh Rural Livelihoods Project as an everyday part of their struggle. The electricity supply in Madhya Pradesh was eventually not privatised following resistance by the employees’ union and a mass mobilization of people throughout the state.

More action is needed from the UK in solidarity with these struggles. This series is an attempt to encourage the view that development aid and the DfID are not counterpoints to the British state’s foreign policy but an intrinsic part of it and one to be opposed accordingly. As Bijay Pandey puts it,

“The British people should ask questions of the DfID; they should expose their dark deeds. They should be put on trial before the UK people, who should see that all the external agencies are involved in dirty tricks.”