Brijesh Goel

Author of Book: Brijesh Goel
Date Read: October 6, 2023

Book Report


India is the world’s largest recipient of foreign aid, receiving more than $80 billion in 2020. This aid comes from a variety of sources, including developed countries, international organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). India is home to the world’s largest population of poor people. India has a population of more than 1.4 billion people and more than 280 million of them live below the poverty line. That is equivalent to 10 times the entire population of Australia!

Foreign Aid Has Been Instrumental in Reducing Poverty in India

The good news is that India has taken several initiatives over the last two decades to significantly improve its economic growth. According to the World Bank,  the poverty ratio in India fell from 45% in 1993 to 21% by 2011. This decline is attributed to several other factors, such as improving education standards and progressive economic policies, however, foreign aid has also played a key role in alleviating poverty in India.

Top 4 Ways Foreign Aid Has Helped in India’s Fight Against Poverty

  • Helping India in building infrastructure and promoting economic development. With only 1% of the world’s vehicles, India accounts for nearly 10% of all crash related deaths. According to a World Bank study, road crashes are estimated to cost the Indian economy between 5 to 7% of GDP a year. Over the last six decades, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has provided billions of dollars in aid to India for a variety of projects, including the Green Revolution, the construction of dams and irrigation canals and the provision of education and healthcare. Another leading example is World Bank which has also provided billions of dollars in aid to India, for projects such as the construction of roads and bridges, the development of renewable energy sources and the improvement of financial services.
  • Addressing humanitarian crises. In India, 2.4 million people suffer from HIV/AIDS infection and as per WHO, India has 15 million cases of malaria with 19,500–20,000 deaths annually. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to India for projects such as the fight against malaria and HIV/AIDS and the improvement of education and healthcare.
  • Advancing education and thereby creating employment opportunities. Although India has made significant progress in improving its literacy rate over the past two decades, it still stands at 74% as of 2018, meaning that more than 300 million people remain illiterate. Foreign Aid has helped improve education in India by supporting innovative educational programs designed to meet the needs of specific groups of children, such as girls, children from rural areas or children with disabilities. In 2020, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation contributed more than $500,000 to Pratham, an NGO focused on improving education in India.
  • Advancing inclusive development and women’s economic empowerment. According to the latest World Bank figures from 2021, less than 1 in 5 Indian women work – at least formally. Foreign aid has helped build partnerships and leveraged local resources to ensure marginalized and underrepresented population have equitable access to quality healthcare, sanitation, education, nutrition, finance and household decision-making. In India, USAID combats stigma and discrimination and promotes the rights and inclusion of populations in high-risk situations, including indigenous and tribal peoples, women and persons with disabilities.

The Future of Foreign Aid in India

The resulting impact of foreign aid in India has been mixed. On the one hand, foreign aid has helped to reduce poverty and improve the lives of millions of Indians. On the other hand, there have also been some negative consequences, such as corruption and dependency on foreign assistance.

The future of foreign aid in India is uncertain. The Indian economy is growing rapidly and the country is becoming less reliant on foreign assistance. However, there are still many challenges that need to be addressed, such as poverty, hunger and illiteracy. Foreign aid can play a key role in addressing these challenges.

 Brijesh Goel