Why is India turning down international aid for flood-hit Kerala?

A ravaged state.
A ravaged state.
Image: Reuters/Sivaram V
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The world is reaching out to help flood-hit Kerala.

The southern Indian state has been ravaged over the past two weeks, leaving over 220 people dead and a million or more displaced. It has suffered damages to the tune of Rs21,000 crore ($3 billion), including over 10,000 kilometres of highways destroyed. The government estimates about 100,000 buildings, including houses, have been damaged and millions of hectares of crops are lost and one of its three international airports is inundated.

Now, however, monetary support and material supplies have begun to pour in from various quarters. The government of India has promised an immediate release of Rs600 crore ($85.8 million) in response to the state government’s demand for a Rs2,600 crore special package.

More importantly, several foreign governments have pledged support. This includes aid promised by the Gulf countries where more than 2.4 million native Keralites work.

However, India is reportedly sticking to its policy of not accepting disaster aid from foreign countries, instead depending solely on domestic resources.

This policy was first put to practice in December 2004 by then prime minister Manmohan Singh following the Indian Ocean tsunami.

Till then, India had accepted foreign assistance, including in the wake of the Uttarkashi earthquake (1991), Latur earthquake (1993), Gujarat earthquake (2001), Bengal cyclone (2002), and the Bihar floods (July 2004).

But during the Uttarakhand cloudburst of 2013 that saw massive loss of life and property, the government refused to accept foreign aid.

Kerala, meanwhile, is trying to get back on its feet. Help has poured in from other Indian states. Over Rs200 crore has come in as cash assistance. Here’s a break up: