Times of India, April 21, 2003

European MPs' criticism may have led Jaswant to shun aid


TIMES NEWS NETWORK [ MONDAY, APRIL 21, 2003 03:15:52 AM ] NEW DELHI: The unequivocal criticism by the European parliament of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and his government's handling of the post-Godhra violence could well be one of the reasons why Union Finance Minister Jaswant Singh in his budget speech sought to "review our dependence on external donors".

The issue came to light on April 11, when the Dutch government, in reply to questions by members of the European parliament, made a reference to Singh's budget proposal.

The Dutch government felt that its "relatively pro-Dalit position (at a UN conference on racism) in Durban, the present actual arms embargo for both India and Pakistan and criticism of massacre in Gujarat is playing a role in the Indian government to reconsider Dutch bilateral aid".

Singh's move to spurn such aid coupled with little progress in rehabilitation in Gujarat has led the Dutch government to tell the European parliament that it "feels obliged to reconsider the whole development cooperation relation with India".

The Dutch government was the fourth largest bilateral donor in 2002-03 with 24 million Euro (Rs 120 crore) aid in social sectors like primary education, drinking water and urban environment in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Gujarat.

The four biggest political groups of European Parliament - Liberal Democrats, Socialists, Christian Democrats and the Greens - wanted to know if and how the European Commission has followed up on the serious concerns expressed last year about the Gujarat situation.

They also wanted to know what recommendations should be given to European companies active in Gujarat "in order to avoid that they contribute to the discrimination of religious and other minorities".

In reply, the Dutch government told the parliamentarians that the "state government under Modi has done little to prevent the massacres and the recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Amnesty and Human Rights Watch have been insufficiently acted upon."

It also said: "Prosecution of the perpetrators of the murderous assaults is only taking place to a limited extent...There is concern about deliberate and systematic discrimination of and/or exclusion of Muslims."

The Dutch government also said that the "national BJP government has initially adopted a wait and see attitude on the massacres."

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India Committee of the Netherlands / Landelijke India Werkgroep - 29 april 2003