India’s union budget 2022 has allocated 17,250 crore rupees towards aid to other nations, including crisis-hit Myanmar and Taliban-led Afghanistan.
War-torn Afghanistan got Rs200 crore ($26.7 million), signalling New Delhi’s continued commitment to its struggling neighbour on “humanitarian” grounds, even though it hasn’t recognised the new Taliban government yet. The amount, however, is 43% down from Rs350 crore in 2021-22, when the country was under a democratic government.
Meanwhile, Mynamar, reeling under economic pressure due to covid-19 and last year’s coup, has been allocated Rs600 crore, the same as last year. On expected lines, India’s close ally Bhutan—also in a border row with China—got a lion’s share of Rs2,266 crore.
Besides this, there was an allocation of Rs447 crore for international training programmes.
India’s budget aid to counter China’s growing influence
India provides development aid to friendly nations under its key Neighbourhood First policy.
However, especially amid recent border tensions with China, such aid is also viewed as part of India’s move to counterweigh China’s influence in the region. The aid to Myanmar is a case in point. New Delhi has also increased efforts to engage the junta there, that borders India’s northeastern states.
The aid allocated for Mongolia, China’s northern neighbour, has also witnessed a sharp rise from Rs2 crore to Rs12 crore now. The two nations are planning to work together on several projects, including the promotion of traditional Indian medicines and clean energy.
Interestingly, the South Asian University, a regional institution supported by members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), got a hike in the budget, from Rs94 crore to Rs120 crore. Up to Rs3,100 crore has also been allocated under “special diplomatic expenditure,” according to budget estimates.
India’s allocation to the Maldives and African nations has also seen a hike this year.