Accepting UAE cash for Kerala is a problem: Ex-Diplomat

Accepting UAE cash for Kerala is a problem: Ex-Diplomat

An aerial view of flooded areas of Kerala, on Monday, Aug. 20, 2018. (Coast Guard Handout Photo via PTI

While the United Arab Emirates (UAE) offering USD 100 million as financial assistance for flood relief operation in Kerala is a "good gesture", there is a "problem" in accepting such a huge cash donation, according to a former Indian diplomat who has served in the Gulf region.

The former Indian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Oman and the UAE, Talmiz Ahmad said to the best of his knowledge, cash transfers have not been offered in the past on a bilateral basis.

In times of calamity and disaster, money donations have usually come from Indian community living overseas which embassies collect and send home as "RBI draft", he said.

"Relief supply makes sense, and donations from Indian community (overseas) makes sense. Individual countries, to the best of my knowledge, have not made such (cash) offers," Ahmad told PTI.

What some countries have done in the past was to provide relief supplies, he said, recalling that Saudi Arabia had sent three plane-loads of such materials after the Bhuj earthquake in 2001.

"To the best of my knowledge, I don't recall individual countries making such major offers of money. The problem for India in such a situation is that it implies that we have a shortage of money in terms of looking after our people. That frankly is not the case," Ahmad said.

Donor countries should actually check with the country facing the calamity as to what relief supply is needed on the ground.

"I don't think they (the UAE) consulted the Indian government in advance. So, there is a problem with regard to accepting such a large donation from another country," he said.

But he stressed that the UAE's offer is a very good, generous and spontaneous gesture.

"It (the UAE offer) reflects their deep affection for the people of Kerala, and for the State, particularly as you know Kerala has such an ancient connection with the Arabian peninsula and over the last 40 years, the people of Kerala have contributed significantly to the development of that region," Ahmad said.

On why the UAE chose to make a cash offer and not relief supplies, he said the authorities there saw newspaper reports and television footage on a large number of casualties and devastation and "spontaneously thought that we should do something".

"Don't forget that 40 per cent of the Indian community in the Gulf is from Kerala. Out of eight million people (Indians in the Gulf), 3.5 million people are from Kerala", Ahmad pointed out.