As flood-hit victims in Kerala struggle to get back to their normal lives, there is a widespread debate going on social media on the Narendra Modi government refusing foreign government aid for relief.
The debate started after the government apparently denied the aid which governments of foreign countries have been offering in Kerala's support, particularly the Rs 700 crore aid being offered by the UAE government.
Some believe that it is because of a previously made policy by Manmohan Singh during the UPA regime. Afterall, when the Tsunami of 2004 had shattered the nation, didn't Singh say that India can "take care of themselves" while refusing foreign aids? And didn't he refused foreign aid during the 2013 Uttarakhand floods? Yes, he did.
But here's the truth.
During Manmohan Singh's regime, India had no formal policy on receiving foreign funds. In fact, it was the Modi government who came up with the National Disaster Management Plan in 2016. The plan was also touted as the country's first such plan.
The National Disaster Mangement Plan of 2016 is easily available on the internet and when you go through the PDF, on page number 145, it is clearly stated that if a nation voluntarily offers help, the government may accept it.
"As a matter of policy, the Government of India does not issue any appeal for foreign assistance in the wake of a disaster. However, if the national government of another country voluntarily offers
assistance as a goodwill gesture in solidarity with the disaster victims, the Central Government may
accept the offer," read the exact text under section 9.2 of the plan.
So, this makes it pretty clear. The government "may accept the offer" and if it refuses to, then it is not because of a policy set under the UPA regime, as being argued by BJP supporters.
During the tsunami of 2004, more than 10,000 people had lost their lives and an aid of Rs 2,600 crore was given by the centre. The government did not take any help from foreign governments. In fact, India had served as an international donor and helped other countries affected by the tsunami like Sri Lanka and Indonesia. Manmohan Singh had also refused to accept foreign aid during the 2013 Uttarakhand floods which had claimed more than 5,000 lives. The government had given an amount of Rs 1,000 crores as aid during the Uttarakhand floods.
Even though the Indian government had refused foreign aid during the Uttarakhand floods, it had requested the US and Japan to give the aid through an NGO of their choice. Can't the Modi government do something on the same lines? Can't we accept UAE's aid through an NGO working in Kerala?
These questions are still unanswered as Kerala, the God's own country struggles to get back in action.