Thailand’s Ambassador to India Chutintorn Gongsakdi on Friday tweeted a letter to Thai entrepreneurs with companies registered in India that he had been informally told not to attend an event where relief material for Kerala floods was scheduled to be handed over to representatives from the state.
On August 21, the envoy tweeted he had been “informally informed” that the Indian government has declined offer of relief from Thailand.
“I regret to inform you that your ambassador will not be able to participate in your companies’ handing over of relief to Kerala and I urge you and your companies to consider what you deem the most appropriate option for disposing of the intended relief,” the envoy wrote. Gongsakdi even tweeted an image with the phrase “I surrender” on Thursday.
The Ministry of External Affairs is yet to comment on the matter.
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor has criticised the Centre for rejecting the offer. “This is extraordinary,” Tharoor tweeted. “When a helpful government reaches out to offer support to people in distress and need, the ambassador is told to stay out of it. Our government puts petty pride and arrogance before human needs. The United States accepted our aid for Katrina, but India is too grand to do so?”
On August 22, the Ministry of External Affairs released a statement reiterating the government’s policy of not accepting financial assistance from other countries.
“The Government of India deeply appreciates offers from several countries, including from foreign governments, to assist in relief and rehabilitation efforts after the tragic floods in Kerala,” the ministry had said. “In line with the existing policy, the Government is committed to meeting the requirements for relief and rehabilitation through domestic efforts. Contributions to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund and the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund from NRIs, PIOs and international entities such as foundations would, however, be welcome.”
Before the announcement, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Centre and the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Kerala government got embroiled in a war of words over the United Arab Emirates’s reported offer to donate Rs 700 crore for relief operations in the state.
UAE Ambassador Ahmed Albanna later clarified that the administration had not announced an amount. “The assessment of relief needed for the flood and aftermath is ongoing,” the envoy had said.