India outdoes US Aid in Afghanistan

Discussion in 'Subcontinent & Central Asia' started by bhramos, Sep 12, 2010.

  1. bhramos

    bhramos Elite Member Elite Member

    Mar 21, 2009
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    HERAT, Afghanistan — If the underlying intent of international aid projects is to “win the hearts and minds” of the Afghan people, then by many measures the United States is failing.

    Despite investing nearly $50 billion in the reconstruction of Afghanistan, only half of Afghans polled last year have a somewhat favorable or better view of the United States.

    India, meanwhile, has managed to become one of the most-liked foreign countries in Afghanistan — with almost three-quarters of the population finding India somewhat favorable or better — after committing just $1.2 billion to the country.

    Regional, often over-shadowed, governments like India are beginning to think more carefully about their relationship with Afghanistan as Western militaries, including the United States, approach deadlines to withdraw troops.

    Aside from political motivations, recent attention on what Afghan officials say could be up to $3 trillion in untapped mineral resources has given neighboring countries more reason to forge a stronger foothold here.

    “When the Western countries came to Afghanistan, many [neighboring countries] asked, ‘Why are we behind them? We should be leading here. We should have priority,’” said Bazin Khatibi, a political analyst in Herat and deputy of the Afghan National Congress Party. “Each of these countries is thinking about its own political strategy, they want to show that they are not weaker than other countries.”

    For a nation like India that is not officially part of the coalition fighting the war in Afghanistan, soft power has proven the most effective means of projecting its influence.

    Though some of India’s success in winning over Afghans has to do with historical ties between the two countries, when it comes to administering aid, analysts say India is often simply better than the United States at developing projects that locals find more tangible and effective.

    “The Indians over a long period of time have not had so many projects of high magnitude compared to some of the other [international donors] … but they have a reputation for having targeted areas of specific need,” said Thomas Gouttierre, director of the Center for Afghanistan Studies at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

    Fisal Ahmed Zakeri, director of water management at the Ministry of Energy and Water in Herat, said that in his experience India is far better at implementing aid projects than United States. Zakeri has worked with U.S. organizations on a number of programs that he says are often plagued by inefficiency and poorly allocated resources.

    Most recently, he worked with the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, as it administered a small water accessibility study in Herat. His ministry offered to do the work for free, but he said USAID refused and instead gave the contract to an NGO, which then subcontracted it out to another NGO and so on until it ended up with a local village council that finally hired people to conduct the study.

    “It seems that at the end nothing will be left because each organization takes money,” Zakeri said.

    He compares this with the $180 million Salma Dam development in Herat, India’s biggest aid project in Afghanistan. Though it’s had delays and problems, Zakeri said it stands out when compared to U.S. projects because there are Indians on site to oversee the work and there hasn’t been unnecessary subcontracting.

    That such inefficiencies or other forms of corruption don’t happen with non-Western projects may be more perception than reality, said Kate Clark, a senior analyst at the Afghanistan Analysts Network in Kabul.

    While India was constructing a major road in Afghanistan, she said, the project fell victim to the same sort of poor oversight, corruption and poor craftsmanship that Afghans often complain about in Western projects.

    Afghanistan | International Aid | India

    great news, may be in future Afghans may accept IPKF then ISAF,,,,,,,
  3. neo29

    neo29 Senior Member Senior Member

    Dec 1, 2009
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    Good going... The more India invests the more we gain control. All our investments mean jobs of Afghans. The more AFghans are working for us the more hold we have in AFghan when US pulls out. Its a perfect chess battle and Pakistan hence wants to throw us out.

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