The government is set to announce that it will slash the £280m aid budget to India amidst criticism that giving vast sums to the world's tenth largest economy can't be justified at a time of domestic austerity, it has been reported.

International Development Secretary, Justine Greening, will announce this week that aid to India will undergo an overhaul when it reaches the end of its current eight-year programme, reports the Independent.

Greening is due to travel to India in the next few months to discuss a timetable for the winding down of the aid payments.

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India is reported to spend £70bn on poverty alleviation

Speaking at last month's Tory conference, Greening said: "We should recognise that as countries get richer, we need to be responsible about how we transition in our relationship with them from aid to trade."

According to the Financial Times, aid to India could be cut by half although any money freed up is unlikely to be spent on deficit reduction or public services in the UK.

David Cameron has already pledged to meet the international target of allocating 0.7% of GDP to overseas aid the aid spent on India would most likely be diverted to other nations, reports the Daily Mail.

Meeting the target will mean that £12bn pounds a year will be given in aid through the Department of International Development at a time when all other departments bar the NHS are facing huge cuts.

Critics question why Britain is spending such vast sums of money on a country that spends £70bn a year on poverty reduction and can afford its own space programme.

In February, India's finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said India could afford to give up the aid it gets from Britain.

He said: "We do not require the aid. It is a peanut in our total development spending."

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