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India’s Development Cooperation:Charting New Approaches in a Changing World

India’s Development Cooperation: Charting New Approaches in a Changing World

As India's economy has grown in recent decades, the range and volume of its development cooperation has increased significantly. On March 5, 2013, the Observer Research Foundation and Saferworld held a round-table meeting in New Delhi on India's Development Cooperation in a Changing Global Environment, with a focus on conflict-affected states. The report highlights the prominent inputs from the round-table.

As India’s economy has grown in recent decades, the range and volume of its development cooperation has increased significantly. While the definition of India’s development Acooperation is debated, foreign spending in 2013-2014 on aid is estimated to rise to $1.3 billion. India’s growing stature as a global development actor has generated much international interest on the nature and evolution of its external assistance programmes.

On 5th March, 2013 the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) and Saferworld held a round-table meeting in New Delhi on India’s development cooperation in a changing global environment with a focus on conflict-affected states. The meeting explored challenges and opportunities in development cooperation, drawing both upon India’s own experience and the experiences of other international actors.

The round-table opened with a keynote address delivered by Amb. P.S. Raghavan, Additional Secretary, Development Partnership Administration (DPA), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India. The meeting was co-chaired by Dr. C. Raja Mohan, Head of ORF’s Strategic Studies Programme, and Mr. Ivan Campbell, Saferworld’s Senior Advisor on Conflict and Security. A number of experts from India, South Africa, Brazil, the United Kingdom and Myanmar also participated in the discussions.

During the round-table a range of themes related to Indian and international development cooperation were discussed. Key messages that emerged are outlined below:

(i) Development is an inherently political process, so development cooperation should not be viewed from a purely technical perspective. Development interventions must take into account how they will affect the balance of resources between local stakeholders and potentially alter power relations;

(ii) Stakeholder consultation is essential when state or private sector actors intervene in developing countries. It is not sufficient simply to deal with central government authorities;

(iii) External actors should engage with local stakeholders and listen to their concerns, and wherever possible avoid displacing local communities;

(iv) There is growing recognition that conflict and violence undermine development. In conflict affected states, external actors should ensure that they understand local conflict issues and dynamics so that their interventions do not inadvertently fuel violence and insecurity;

(v) India has increased the scope of its development cooperation, evidenced by the establishment of the new Development Partnership Administration. Whether through Lines of Credit or capacity-building grants, the country’s approach to development cooperation is predicated on a demand-driven, consultative model of engagement with recipient countries;

(vi) Greater dialogue is required between Indian development officials, research institutes, NGOs and the private sector in order to aid policy-making and enhance practice. It is also important to include representatives of less developed and conflict-affected countries in this dialogue;

(vii) The traditional paradigm of donor-recipient development is increasingly challenged by the rise of global actors from the South. India could play a key role in shaping a new agenda for development cooperation, both through fora such as IBSA and BRICS and by engaging with broader processes to define a new international development framework.

This report highlights the prominent inputs from the round-table. It first briefly delves into the historical context within which India’s development cooperation must be seen. In the following section, the role, objectives and the functioning of the DPA is explained. The report then touches upon India’s role in the development architecture as a new participant on the global high table. Thereafter, it outlines some significant experiences of international actors in conflict-affected states, the role of the private sector and the role of civil society in development cooperation. The report concludes with a set of recommendations for the DPA, Indian civil society and other international actors.

The views expressed above belong to the author(s). ORF research and analyses now available on Telegram! Click here to access our curated content — blogs, longforms and interviews.


Vivan Sharan

Vivan Sharan

Vivan was a visiting fellow at ORF, where he supports programmes on the ‘new economy’. Previously, as the CEO of ORF’s Global Governance Initiative, he ...

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