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The United States has invested in India’s development since President Harry Truman’s signed the India Emergency Food Assistance Act in 1951. USAID’s program has evolved progressively over the decades from emergency provision of food, to infrastructure development, capacity building of key Indian institutions, support for the opening of the Indian economy and more.  

U.S. economic assistance has followed a similar trajectory.  In 1960, food aid accounted for 92 percent of the annual assistance budget. In the late 1970s, projects included rural electrification, fertilizer promotion, malaria control, agricultural credit, integrated health and population programs, irrigation schemes and social forestry.

By the mid-1980's, the program shifted to focus on science and technology with an emphasis on policy and institutional reforms.  Programs addressed agricultural research, alternative-energy technology development, biomedical research, water resources management and family planning. Technology transfer and institution capacity building were integral to these activities.      

From 1992 to 2002, approximately 65 percent of the annual U.S. foreign assistance funding for India was dedicated to food aid. The sixty-year-old India food aid program ended in 2011, and the 2012 budget request has no food aid.

USAID has played an important role in India, including: 

  • Establishing eight agricultural universities with world-class agricultural research capacity; 
  • Establishing the first Indian Institute of Technology and 14 regional engineering colleges; 
  • Supporting capital market development to improve administration and price transparency on the stock exchanges; 
  • Launching the first municipal bond in the region for water supply and sanitation infrastructure development;
  • Launching the "green building" movement in India -- catalyzing over 1.2 billion square feet of LEED-registered green building space in the country; and
  • Strengthening India’s national programs on immunization, family planning, maternal and child health, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and polio.