Policy Engagements and Blogs

The Price of Aid: The Economic Cold War in India

Srinath Raghavan

May 11, 2018


Listen to the full audio (above) of the talk by David C Engerman, where he discusses how superpowers turned to foreign aid as an instrument for pursuing geopolitics through economic means during the Cold War.

Looking back to the origins and evolution of foreign aid during the Cold War, Engerman invites us to recognise the strategic thinking at the heart of development assistance—as well as the political costs. India, the largest of the ex-colonies, stood at the center of American and Soviet aid competition, 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.

David C Engerman is Otillie Springer Professor of History at Brandeis University, and the author of ‘The Price of Aid: The Economic Cold War in India’.