Poor Little Rich Country

How do you categorize India, a nation that is at once fantastically wealthy and desperately poor?

BY PATRICK FRENCH

In May, the Indian government announced that it was giving $5 billion in aid to African countries in the interest of helping them meet their development goals. "We do not have all the answers," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said, "but we have some experience in nation-building, which we are happy to share."

The British could be forgiven for being annoyed with Singh’s largesse. Britain, after all, currently gives more than $450 million a year in aid to India, and has plans to continue doing so for at least the next few years. The British economy is bumping in and out of a recession, while India’s gross domestic product is growing at more than 8 percent a year. This has put the British government in the rather bizarre position of having to sell bonds in order to donate money to Asia’s second-fastest-growing economy, even as the latter is itself getting into the philanthropy business.

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