India aid programme 'beset by corruption' - World Bank

Begging on the streets of India Less than half the hand-outs reach the needy in some Indian aid programmes.

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Attempts by the Indian government to combat poverty are not working, according to the World Bank.

The governing coalition spends billions of dollars - more than 2% of its gross domestic product - on helping the poor.

But a new World Bank report says aid programmes are beset by corruption, bad administration and under-payments.

As an example, the report cites grain: only 40% of grain handed out for the poor reaches its intended target.

India's coalition government is spending massively on programmes to reduce poverty.

Embarrassment

This was the first time India's major schemes had been evaluated.

The World Bank says the public distribution programme, which soaks up almost half the money, has brought limited benefits.

It gives subsidised food and other goods to the poor.

The report says one landmark scheme, launched more than five years ago, aims to guarantee government work for the rural unemployed.

But the World Bank found that it was failing to have an impact in the poorest states because of under-payments and bad administration.

All this is embarrassing for the Congress party, which leads the coalition government.

It promised to reduce the gap between the small percentage of wealthy Indians and very large percentage of poor ones, who feel excluded from the economic boom.

This report suggests that however good intentions may be, the delivery still needs a lot of work.

Although India is seeing rapid growth, more than 40% of its population still lives below the poverty line.

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