Debates over foreign aid can seem strangely innocent of history. Economists argue about effectiveness and measurement—how to make aid work. Meanwhile, critics in donor countries bemoan what they see as money wasted on corrupt tycoons or unworthy recipients. What most ignore is the essentially political character of foreign aid. Looking back to the origins and evolution of foreign aid during the Cold War, David C. Engerman invites us to recognize the strategic thinking at the heart of development assistance—as well as the political costs.
In The Price of Aid, Engerman argues that superpowers turned to foreign aid as a tool of the Cold War. India, the largest of the ex-colonies, stood at the center of American and Soviet aid competition. Officials of both superpowers saw development aid as an instrument for pursuing geopolitics through economic means. But Indian officials had different ideas, seeking superpower aid to advance their own economic visions, thus bringing external resources into domestic debates about India’s economic future. Drawing on an expansive set of documents, many recently declassified, from seven countries, Engerman reconstructs a story of Indian leaders using Cold War competition to win battles at home, but in the process eroding the Indian state.
The Indian case provides an instructive model today. As China spends freely in Africa, the political stakes of foreign aid are rising once again.
The Price of Aid is a detailed and convincing historical study of the playing-out of the ideological and institutional politics of development aid… [It] makes a major contribution towards a necessary discussion of the politics of aid.
A must read… Sheds significant light on the economic dimension of the Cold War… There is little doubt that this book will be essential reading for scholars of the Cold War, Indian history, and economic history.
Engerman shows the unintended effects of foreign aid by explaining how it weakened Indian political institutions and diminished the country’s exercise of sovereignty.
This is a superb, field-changing book. Based on a dazzling array of archives spanning continents, David Engerman has written a groundbreaking study of how the ‘economic Cold War’ shaped India—and how India shaped the Cold War. Global in scope but rooted in local detail, The Price of Aid is essential reading: a true classic of international history.
The Price of Aid is an outstanding history of India during the Cold War and the political economy of foreign aid. Drawing on an unprecedented array of official and private archives in India, Russia, the United States, and Britain, Engerman offers a superb account—one that integrates the ideologies and policies of the superpowers with a sharp analysis of the push-and-pull of policymaking in India. This is a landmark study of independent India as well as the Cold War.
A magnificent book. Anyone who seeks to understand contemporary India and its development struggles will have to start here. Engerman’s work is not only enlightening, it turns much of what we thought we knew about India, foreign aid, and the Cold War in South Asia upside down.
- 512 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
From this author
Sorry, there was an error adding the item to your shopping bag.
Sorry, your session has expired. Please refresh your browser's tab.