Aid to India has been as much a part of the daily newspapers as the comic page or the financial section. Most of us have grown up taking aid to India for granted, like the changing of the seasons. But I’ve never before heard an opinion on the subject, other than loud political exhortations, from an educated Indian. Here’s a letter, or rather, excerpts from a letter written by Doctor M. H. Kahn, of Delhi, India, to Norman Cousins, Editor, ‘Saturday Review,’
“From my analysis of the Indian economy and the system of development, I can tell you that India will remain backward (relatively speaking) and can never be able to cope with its enormous problems. This is because of the following fundamental shortcomings…
“The Indian economy has been built with foreign aid from every conceivable source. This spoon-feeding and protections system has in fact jeopardized Indian development…If a country expects a large dole of foreign aid whenever it experiences some difficulty, then it can never achieve enough strength to stand on its feet…
“You may not be aware of the fact that there is not a single successful Indian project which has been started without foreign collaboration… The curse of the foreign borrowed technology, without any effort of improvement locally, is that it kills the indigenous technology in the embryonic stage… We must help ourselves all along. There is no short cut for development.
“You have remarked that because of hungry millions of Indians, how can Americans think of living affluently… In fact, there are about sixty million Indians, just equivalent to the population of France, who live as affluently as the Frenchmen… However, the question is what we should do with the remaining 450 million? In other words, these 60 millions who are living and enjoying the material wealth of the country to the extent of 90 percent, do not care about the starting 450 millions. Why should then Americans bother?
“In short… unless we put our house in order ourselves, no force, even the Almighty, can change our lots. We shall live and die the way it has always been in India ever since the earliest civilization.”
“Interesting letter, isn’t it? Written by an educated Indian, a doctor, to Norman Cousins, Editor of the ‘Saturday Review’.
“If a country expects a large dole of foreign aid whenever it experiences some difficulty, then it can never achieve enough strength to stand on its feet…” I don’t think you can make a truer statement than that. And it doesn’t only apply to countries, it applies to every living thing, it applies to our kids and to each other. If you put a prop under something every time it starts to sag, it will eventually form the habit of leaning on the prop all the time, of counting on the prep, of taking if for granted as a way of life.
Some experts have called it the ratchet effect. Populations and problems of third world countries grow anew, in proportions to their being take care of on a regular basis by outside forces. The ratchet takes a new grip, the pawl falls into place at a new, higher level, and the next problem begins from there.
How did aid to India begin? Daniel Moynihan, the ambassador to India has said: “…we undertook to provide India economic support in very large amounts, and military support also, because it was a democracy.” The world’s largest.
By: Earl Nightingale