ALAN McGibbon’s letter (August 25) on aid to India, consistent with previous correspondence, was eloquent and prima facie convincing. It will undoubtedly have considerable public support. And therein lies the sadness and the tragedy.

As one who visited India on a number of occasions, my mind remains on the image of indescribable poverty, hunger, appalling rates of infant mortality, absence of clean water and educational standards, especially for girls, at appallingly low levels. On my last visit, when with a Parliamentary Group I studied tuberculosis, it was heartbreaking to witness patients struggling and in many cases dying in primitive hospitals, as much of the “civilised world” looked the other way.

It remains a fact that even today sections of the Indian population, many of them unable to read, are completely unaware of their - distant - government’s decision to send spacecraft to the Moon. As citizens of the world, as well as Britain, were we entitled to say "tough” and remind dedicated medics, who were working themselves to burn-out, of the questionable priorities of those who ruled them? I think not.

Didn’t the former British Empire gain much from its former territories? Are we to remain ungrateful to Indian soldiers who fought, and in many cases died, as they joined with our allies in the Second World War? Indeed are we to remain oblivious to the many consultants, doctors, nurses and others of Indian origin who are helping to keep our own NHS just holding together?

As for the money we send, are we really saying that a tiny fraction of 1% of our GDP - hardly anywhere equal to the profits of the energy companies and the banks - is excessive when the Indian people too struggle with inflation and other international factors?

Of the many aid agencies I have met at home and abroad, by far the most impressive is the French-based organisation loosely translated as Medics Across Frontiers. In other words, address the problem, not necessarily the governments of those in need.

Finally, if Mr McGibbon has evidence of British aid being abused in India, I respectfully invite him to make it known to the UK Government, consistent with the International Development and Transparency Act of 2006 which I had the privilege of sponsoring.

Sir Tom Clarke, former MP and Shadow Secretary for International Development, Coatbridge.

Read more: Why do we give billions in aid to a country with a space programme?

Regain control of our borders

WHILST the UK has a proud and continuing record of welcoming migrants fleeing persecution, our current political masters appear to have lost control of our borders, having been overwhelmed by the accumulated and growing mass of people arriving, whether migrants by authorised or unauthorised routes, or others by visas.

The current estimate of migrants awaiting asylum assessment is 175,000, which is growing daily. Such numbers are an unsustainable ever-growing burden on all aspects of our already-overstretched infrastructure, witnessed for example by the growing cost of housing, feeding and caring for such numbers, to the detriment of the reasonable needs and expectations of the indigenous population. Even if the rate of assessment was speeded up whilst maintaining a sufficient level of scrutiny, has anyone any idea where those whose claims have been rejected can actually be sent?

Those arriving annually by visas amount to millions including tourists and also students accepted to attend study courses. The latter have the surprising ability to bring family members which apparently hugely increases the number of arrivals. There seems to be little or no check to confirm anyone’s departure on the expiry of their visa, which obviously opens that route to abuse by those wishing to settle here illegally.

A Chinese proverb says that every long journey begins with a first step, and in this case that journey must be to regain control of our borders. In my view that can only be achieved by reconsidering all arrival routes whether authorised or not to reduce the overall numbers to a sustainable level whilst continuing to favour those genuinely fleeing persecution.

As a start the range of visa arrivals should be considered to remove those of insufficient justification. To that end the colleges and courses available for student visas should be checked to remove the dodgy ones and I cannot see why students need to bring family members to pursue their study. Also, surely there should be some attempt to verify that people depart when their visa expires, otherwise why bother even issuing visas?

As it seems impossible to stop the boats as they motor across the Channel, what alternative is there to deter the substantial numbers of migrants using this unauthorised route? One suggestion would be to make it clear that on arrival they would not be taken off the beaches. These migrants come from the tented Calais beach camps, so why do we not mirror what the French do and only provide similar accommodation facilities as Calais? If they are to be assessed rather than returned (where to?) we could set up assessment centres on the beaches and couple all this with with extensive leafleting at the Calais camps explaining what awaits migrants on arrival here.

For our politicians to continue to do nothing effective amounts to dereliction of their duty to protect our borders. It is time they woke up and started taking some hard and no doubt in some quarters unpopular decisions. What is the alternative?

Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop.

Read more: UK's heartless policies are root cause of our drugs problem

Blame SNP for drugs shame

I AM by now used to reading far-fetched stories of incompetence and suchlike from many of the regular nationalist correspondents in your Letters Pages, most with the common denominator of blaming Westminster as their theme.

The letter from Stan Grodynski (August 25) by some distance really stands out as the gold standard of woolly-minded analysis where he attempts to shift the blame for Scotland's dreadful drug deaths shame from the SNP Government to Westminster. His argument is that the cause of these drug deaths is the quite unfathomable idea that this is a result of "UK Government's abandonment of Scottish workers during de-industrialisation".

Mr Grodynski goes on to say that comparisons with drug deaths in neighbouring countries are "questionable" without any justification and that the UK overall has amongst the highest drug deaths in Europe, which is obviously true, and which is a direct consequence of Scotland's disproportionate contribution due to SNP mismanagement.

Not content with these head-scratching statements Mr Grodynski peppers the latter part of his piece with the usual attack on the Tories' "lack of compassion, heartlessness towards refugees, patronising deprivation, stigma" and such like psychobabble.

Scotland has been at the top of this dreadful drug death league for far too many years and it's time to drive these figures down.

James Martin, Bearsden.

Time to change our laws

I AM living proof that man is an imperfect creature; most of the things I really enjoy are either illegal, fattening or immoral: in that I am not alone. However, most of us decide to hang around as long as possible rather than taking an early exit. The National Records of Scotland tells me that 62,942 deaths were registered in Scotland in 2022 and that life expectancy has reduced marginally but significantly.

In 1,245 cases alcohol was recorded as the prime cause of death; 1,051 died through drug misuse. However according to Nesta (National Endowment for Science Technology and Arts) obesity is now the leading cause of death in Scotland and is linked to 23% of all deaths, only slightly higher than those attributed to being caused by smoking.

Only one of those factors that are killing Scots is illegal, only one with no quality control or any way that a user can be assured that it will not immediately kill them when all they wanted was a temporary escape from reality. Time for change.

David J Crawford, Glasgow.

Brexit not a fair benchmark

ALASDAIR Galloway’s letter (August 25), which was made in response to my letter of August 24 on the measure of the “decisiveness” of any independence referendum vote is typical of the rhetoric of many of those who support independence. It appears to assume that everyone who supports the Union voted for Brexit, which is patently not the case, and seeks also to divert attention to a totally different topic from that under discussion.

I agree with him that, for something as momentous as Brexit, such a close and “indecisive” vote should not have resulted in the UK leaving the EU, but would suggest that the issues caused by Brexit would pale into insignificance compared to those resulting from Scotland gaining independence from the UK.

Perhaps someone could be so good as to suggest a percentage split in favour of independence which would not only be seen as “decisive” but also as fair and reasonable to the potentially large minority which voted against it?

Bob Hamilton, Motherwell.