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Pitfalls in India's Aid-Diplomacy

Balraj Mehta

By Dewan C. Vohra
Vikas Publishing House, New Delhi, 2016, pp. IX 331, Rs. 125.00

VOLUME V NUMBER 3 November/December 1980

The work under review was originally a Ph. D. dissertation. It assembles a lot of material which is useful for a study of India's economic relations with other countries after Independence, more espe­cially with the countries of the Third World. But it gets lost in details and the essential thrust of the thesis is weak­ened in the process. The attempt at scholarship is somewhat pedantic and lacks spontaneity. At the heart of Vohra's thesis is the concept of the Third World composed of countries at different stages of deve­lopment. But rating India at what has come to be called a country at the mid­-stage of its development is arguable at best. The study of the quality and con­tent of its economic as well as political relations with other countries of the Third World gets misdirected and disori­ented by this characterization of India's position in the Third World. Vohra has, therefore, presented a rather simplistic picture of continuity and growth of India's economic relations with the Third World which is not wholly convincing. The fact which has not been reckoned with in depth in his study is the problem of complementarity in trade exchanges and economic cooperation between· India and other countries of the Third World. Indian official policy on this score has suffered from a gross weakness. It was conceived during the first phase of its own development and was influenced by the idea that it had to rely primarily on inputs from the Western developed coun­tries which have to be financed partly by its earnings from exports to these countries and partly by foreign official aid and foreign private investment. This exercised a strong pull on the composi­tion as well as direction of its trade ex­changes and on the quality and content of its economic and technical coopera­tion with foreign countries. The result has been a marked lack of interest in the search for developing the right kind of complementarity in economic rela­tions with other countries of the Third World. Here was a serious dichotomy between India's economic relations and its political position as the leading light in the Third World and the non-aligned movements. This dichotomy has persisted even after India has claimed to have advanced significantly in its development process, especially towards industrialization and modernization. This arises from the fact that with its vaunted tenth position ...

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