Development Cooperation Handbook/Interviews/Danièle Smadja
What are the important areas of cooperation between India and the EU?
We have many types of project, but for simplicity let me divide them in three. At first we have budget support at the central level; this is the case for education and health. The second type is at the state level by budget support, providing technical assistance and transferring and exchanging our practices; and we have two state programs right now, one with Rajasthan in the field of water and with Chhattisgarh in health and education. At both, the national and state level, we are not just signing the cheque, we are present in the policy making by helping them with our experience, technical assistance and our models on how to go about their policies. The third level is supporting financially the civil society organizations; we regularly have projects with them. We also try and organize the best synergies and compliment the three levels of cooperation. As an example, when we work with NGOs in education we will target the population which remains outside the main stream services, like the tribal population or remote communities.
What do you think are the factors which create poverty?
"The first two things which come to my mind, since i am in India is 'Inclusion'. What strikes me here is that even thought there is a very high economic growth for many years but they do not manage to make the benefit of this growth inclusive and as a result there are 400 million people under 1 dollar a day.
The second thing is education. So many people are uneducated, the illiteracy rate is quite high. In addition to this there are also so many disparities between people. There are other factors too, but inclusion and education are the most important which come to my mind."
Why should an EU citizen fund the education of the poor children in India?
I think that supporting the education of a child is a wonderful objective, a wonderful approach to defend human rights; because education is a fundamental right of every child.
The second element is that the money has been worth spending for in 2003 there were 25 million children out of school in India. Thanks to the program of the Government of India and the EU in 2009 there were only 8 million children out of school.
The third element is that when a child is educated, when a teenage is going to college and when out with a degree a student is getting a job; i don't think we should think in terms of competitors. We should think in terms of wealth, in terms of world economic growth. The more children are coming to the labor market with a degree, with skills... then you make the world economy run. Today there is so much interdependence between countries; it is important that there is economic growth in India and china for when our countries are lagging behind, and when they are in the middle of a crises it is then important that other countries are the locomotive of the economic growth. Whenever you give money to somebody you have less for you; but you may have less now... but it will bring you more tomorrow. And your child who is going to school in Europe, tomorrow might need the growth that an Indian child is going to produce. In terms of economic cooperation, today, we always have to look for win win situations.
What is your opinion on aid coming from an other country and an other culture?
There has been a lot of discussions over the last 5-7 decades about aid.
The most important element is to do what the government of the country we are engaged in wants to do and has decided to do. We cannot impose policies, we have to support the national policies of the country and respect the obligations of the donor country. This doesn't mean that whatever they do we sign the cheque.
Every country has to take charge of the development of their country. The effectiveness of aid then comes from the capacity of the donor country to contribute to the national policies and strategies and to make sure that whatever we are contributing to has a chance of success. Then only we can bring an added value by filling the financial gap (even if on a small scale), bring expertise, experience and policies we use in Europe.
You are with the WHAT and I'm with the HOW... and until you don't know WHAT there is no way I can help you on HOW to do it.
EU commitment towards Global Partnership for Development
The EU was very committed towards the MDGs when they were put together in the UN.
What we have in mind with this Global Partnership for Development is that our development assistance should always go hand-in-had and support the national strategies and policies of the country. We come with the projection of our values, the European values, but we don't come with our own model to impose; we come to support.
Why do we do it India? India has 400 million people under poverty, this represents a quarter of the entire population around the world. Europe cannot turn a blind eye to that.
Social integration is the resource
Education is a fundamental right and that is very important. If you say that social cohesion is a resource to go up the economic ladder in the sense that it has to be available for all and it everyone should have the possibility to have it. Even though we have a number of problems in Europe, even though we have a number of disparities in our society; social cohesion has been for many years in the heart of the architecture of the European Union. Social inclusion and social coherence has been in the heart of Europe and European policies.
We are directly putting money in the big envelope of the government. But this is not limited in just signing a cheque to the government. We are a very important party in a number of discussion of the steering committee which is in charged of the implementation of the program. But we are also helping in designing and monitoring the program. Through our presence we can influence, but this does not mean imposing a model but offering our experience, proposing technical assistance, showcasing are lesson learned and also bad experiences from where they can learn and be a source of inspiration.