Donor countries generally link aid to specific outcomes and to serve the interests of the donors. The US, for example, tie its aid to specific policies of another country. Otherwise, the aid is suspended or withdrawn. The Indian government has been giving aid to Guyana long before Guyana even became an independent country. Hundreds of millions of (American) dollars were doled out to Guyana since independence in 1966. But much of the aid was misused to prop up a racist dictatorship that oppressed Indians, Chinese, Portuguese, Amerindians and Mixed people. Hardly any aid reached people of Indian descent. Even scholarships granted by India were denied to Indo-Guyanese who were all around victims of racial discrimination. Should India continue to give aid without conditions? Should India aid not be tied to an end to racist policy in Guyana? And before India commits aid to Guyana, should it not consult with the leadership of the diaspora in Guyana? Indo-Guyanese are being persecuted and brutalized in Guyana. If the Indian government does not stand in solidarity with them, then which country would?
A Guyana government delegation (headed by Foreign Minister Carl Greenidge and includes Natural Resources Minister Rafael Trottman) visited India this week for discussions on technical assistance to be rendered to our country in various areas including mining and sugar. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj handed out a basket of goodies to Guyana. And just last month, India gave Guyana US $18M in aid to purchase a ferry to be used in the interior of the country.
India offered assistance to rehabilitate the sugar industry. But the Guyana PNC led government opted initially not to accept the aid. They accessed all aid offers except the one offered on sugar. Why? When the PNC led government was exposed by Ramotar, it first denied that India offered aid to rescue the sugar industry and asked for proof that aid was offered. And then immediately, the coalition government reversed course and announced that the aid would be accepted to restructure the sugar industry.
Several private companies in India and Indo-Guyanese owned companies in Guyana offered to rescue the sugar industry but all were turned down. Former President Donald Ramotar accused the government of racism in not accepting India's offer to assist the sugar industry. After firing almost ten thousand workers, the government has signaled that it will accept India's assistance to rehabilitate the sugar industry? Why only now and not before the many thousands were sent on the bread line? Why doesn't the government want to help the sugar industry where over 15,000 Indians and on whom 100,000 lives are tied?
India is known for its generosity to Guyana doling out tens of millions annually to Guyana. Hundreds of millions (in US $) have been doled out to Guyana going back to the 1960s. On a per capita basis, India gives more assistance to Guyana than any other country. But much of this assistance was not properly utilized. In fact, they were misused to prop up an anti-Indian dictatorship between 1966 and 1992.
Quite likely, the Guyana delegation will return home with a big basket of goodies as the intended purpose for the trip on our government's end. And the trip is being undertaken at a time when the government's Director of Public Information (DPI) and the Corporation Communication Director of Guysuco launched broadsided attacks on India. The Guyana government has not condemned the attacks although a few Ministers in their individual capacity chided the DPI for his unprovoked criticism of India High Commissioner to Guyana. The Guysuco Director was not reprimanded although the India delegation was purportedly seeking assistance for Guysuco. And both officers remain on their jobs.
In light of the attacks on India and the widespread racial discrimination against people of Indian descent in Guyana, should India continue its program of generous assistance to Guyana? Thousands of Indo-Guyanese were terminated from their jobs. The Guyana government has replaced supporters of PPP with its own supporters at government jobs. There is targeted violence against people of Indian origin. Indian owned businesses are targeted for harassment, intimidation, and investigation by PNC affiliated government officers. Should aid not be tied to ending discrimination against Indians, better governance and protecting people who are being victimized and whose basic rights are violated? Shouldn't India follow the model of other donor countries to influence another country's political behavior as the US and Britain have done regarding their aid policy?
It is the foreign policy of a nation that when its peoples' rights are violated abroad or its interests not properly served, aid is withdrawn. The US, for example, withdrew aid to Pakistan last month because American interests were not served in Pakistan. The US gave $35 billion in aid over thirty years but its interests were not adequately served. As the ABC countries do, India should seriously consider linking assistance to good governance, democracy, human rights, free and fair elections, etc. All global powers, particularly ABC countries, use aid to influence local politics and to effect political change. India should follow the US example and tie its foreign aid to influence local politics and policy making. Condition aid to an end to racist policy!
India should send a clear message that it is troubled by what has been happening in Guyana. Aid should be linked to better governance and India should demand an unqualified apology from the government of Guyana regarding the latest attacks by officers of the government.