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Aid and influence
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Chocolate spread over
Credit Crunch Geography
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Fast Food Geography
Follow the thing: Papaya
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India - Change and challenge for a new superpower
Inequality and its management
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Making music in the global economy
Measuring International Corruption and its Impacts
Rio+20: A global evaluation of sustainable development
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Aid and Influence

January 2013

Why is the UK cutting aid to India and what is the connection between international aid and ‘soft power’?

Aid and influence

India is a major emerging BRIC economy with its own space programme and more billionaires than Britain. Yet it is also home to more extremely poor people than all of Africa. Faced with such contradictory data, should the UK keep providing financial aid to India?

This article explores the issues facing the UK government as it re-evaluates its overseas aid commitments, especially assistance to India, ‘a country with more mobile phones than toilets’. Although international aid is given for humanitarian reasons, it can also play a geopolitical role. By providing aid, some richer countries may try to build international partnerships and influence in parts of the world that are strategically important to their own interests.

In the second half of this article, we explore the concept of ‘soft power’ and the role that aid can play for donor countries who are seeking to increase their level of soft power (See also the Ask the Expert interview with Dr Alasdair Pinkerton which explores Superpower geographies). The UK is currently ranked as world leader in terms of soft power and this article will explore some of the factors that have contributed to this.


KS3 teacher-led exploration of interdependence between people and places (thinking critically about who has the power, resources and responsibility to help lead more people in India out of poverty)

GCSE teaching of causes and solutions for the development gap

A-level teaching including ‘trade versus aid’ (AQA A2), ‘strategies for tackling the development gap’ and ‘superpower geography’ (Edexcel), ‘tackling the development gap’ and in-depth studies of India (WJEC)

IB Diploma teaching of ‘tackling disparities’ (Paper 1), ‘financial flows’ and ‘socio-cultural exchanges’ (Paper 3)

In the Members' Area:

  • No more aid for India
  • Aid and influence
  • References  

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