New delhi: In what could be a setback for its foreign policy, India seems to have again failed to capitalise on China’s northern neighbour Mongolia’s desire to break free of its economic dependence on Beijing. In the Union Budget for the coming fiscal 2017-18 presented earlier this month, New Delhi has allocated only a meagre Rs 5 crore as foreign aid for Mongolia under the allocation of the Ministry of External Affairs for the strategically-located central Asian nation that had embraced India so warmly during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit there about two years ago.
Contrast this with the foreign aid announced in the 2017-18 Budget for Nepal Rs 375 crore), Afghanistan and Mauritius (both Rs 350 crore each), Seychelles (Rs 300 crore), Maldives (Rs 245 crore) and Myanmar (Rs 225 crore). The figures show that grants to be given by New Delhi even to tiny Indian Ocean-rim countries like Maldives, Mauritius and Seychelles far outstrip that for Mongolia. But contesting this perception, government sources however point out that India had already announced a Line of Credit of $1 billion (about Rs 7,000 crore to be handled by the finance ministry) to Mongolia during PM Modi’s visit. But the fact remains that a Line of Credit is not a grant (foreign aid).