New Delhi, July 5: One of the intriguing aspects of Union Budget 2019-20 has been a significant jump in India's foreign aid allocation to neighbouring countries of Nepal and Maldives. The allotments boost Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of "Neighbourhood First". Full Highlights of Union Budget 2019.
While a closening of ties with Male was expected after the defeat of "pro-China" President Abdulla Yameen, analysts were caught off-guard by the decision to increase expenditure for Kathmandu -- where the KP Sharma Oli government is accused of not adhering to the "all-weather alliance" with New Delhi.
For foreign aid to Nepal, the allocation for FY 2019-20 has been raised by around 62 per cent, scaling it from Rs 650 crore in the last financial year to Rs 1,050 crore.
For Maldives, the allotment is more than double as the government has pledged to grant Rs 400 crore in form of foreign aid this year, way above Rs 125 crore in 2018-19.
Apart from Nepal and Maldives, the Modi government has also increased allocations for allies in Africa, where India has invested in various schemes and projects. A total of Rs 450 crore has been set aside for the above investments, as compared to Rs 200 crore in the last financial year.
The maximum allocation has been made for Mauritius, one of the time-tested allies of India. The tourism-centric nation will be pumped with Rs 1,100 crore in form aid by India vis-a-vis Rs 350 crore in 2018-19.