New Delhi: Asserting that it attaches no "conditionalities" to assistance to countries including Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Maldives and Bangladesh, India on Monday said it also does not "challenge national sovereignty" of these nations and noted such aids were demand driven and mutually beneficial.
It also cautioned against developed countries stopping ODA (Official Development Assistance) to their developing counterparts as suggested by the recent communique of the UN Secretary General on the post-2015 development agenda.
"Our engagement is demand driven and response to the developmental priorities of our partner countries. We do not attach conditionalities, we do not prescribe policies and we do not challenge national sovereignty. We promote mutually beneficial exchange of development, experiences and resources," Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said here.
He was addressing a conference here on `South-South Cooperation: Issues and emerging challenges`.
The Foreign Secretary said, "we should reinforce the argument that while South-South cooperation and the voluntary efforts of developing countries such as India will continue to play an important role, it would be a travesty to project them as the principle new component of a redefined global partnership of the new agenda."
He cautioned against replacing North-South cooperation with South-South cooperation.
Observing that North-South engagement leads the aid process and should continue to do so, Mathai said it is self- evident that while South-South cooperation supplements North- South cooperation, the former bloc is not yet in a position to replace the latter in any significant measure.
The fact that the traditional donor community often underplays the distinctions between our forms of assistance does not diminish its validity, he said.
"It is surprising that even as crucial importance of the ODA for many developing countries have been reiterated at many high-level fora, this document (communique of the UN Secretary General`s high level panel on the post 2015 development agenda) does not contain single mention of ODA," he said.
"We need to register a note of caution...That recommendations of the panel are to make a meaningful contribution to evolving a new developmental agenda that should reflect in equal measure the concerns of both the developing and developed world," Mathai said.
The communique was issued on March 27 by a high-level panel tasked with advising the UN Secretary-General on the global development agenda beyond 2015.
"Over the years, we have considerably expanded our development cooperation portfolio through grant assistance in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Myanmar and Sri Lanka for projects in infrastructure, hydroelectricity, power transmission and other sectors identified by the host governments as priority areas for their development," he said.
Dwelling on India`s Technical and Economic Assistance programme ITEC, he said nearly 9,000 civilians from 161 countries attended various training courses conducted by 47 Indian institutions last year.
India offers 2,300 scholarships annually for degree courses in Indian universities, the Foreign Secretary said.
In addition, special courses are conducted at the request of countries or regions on specialised subjects such as election management, WTO studies, parliamentary practices and public-private partnerships, he said.
At the India-Africa Forum Summits in 2008 and 2011, India made a commitment to establish about 100 institutions in various African countries to strengthen capacities at the pan-African, regional and bilateral levels.
Indian experts are deputed abroad to share expertise in areas like IT, auditing, pharmacology, public administration and textiles research, he said. In their structure and diversity, these programmes do not have many parallels in traditional North-South cooperation.
On various aid-related programmes, he said through India`s concessional Lines of Credit, over 150 Lines of Credit totalling over USD 9.5 billion have been allocated to finance a wide range of projects from drinking water schemes to power plants in Africa and elsewhere over the last decade or so.