1. What has been the general trend of India’s Africa policy? What are your views on the same? Discuss.
भारत की अफ्रीका नीति का सामान्य चलन क्या रहा है? उसी पर आपके क्या विचार हैं? चर्चा करें।
Demand of the question:
It expects candidates to observe and write the general trend of India’s Africa policy. It also expects to express your views on it.
Africa is world’s second largest continent both in terms of land and population with 55 countries which account for about 15 percent of world’s population. India and Africa have a long and rich history of interaction marked by cultural, economic and political exchanges based on the principle of south cooperation.
In the recent years a number of steps have been taken to further strengthen these relations. Speaking at the Valedictory session of the national conference on India Africa Relations in changing global order India’s Vice President has said that India and Africa have a lot of common interests and both have vital stakes in each other’s progress, peace and prosperity.
- Political and Economic Engagement: In the last few years, Africa has been the focus of India’s development assistance and also diplomatic outreach, as evident in plans to open 18 new embassies.
- Also, India-Africa trade reached $62 billion in 2018 compared to $39 billion during 2009-10. India’s duty-free tariff preferential scheme for Least Developed Nation (LDCs) launched in 2008 has benefited 33 African states.
- Grants in Aid: After South Asia, Africa is the second-largest recipient of Indian overseas assistance with Lines of Credit (LOC) worth nearly $10 billion (nearly 40% of the total LOC globally) spread over 100 projects in 41 countries.
- Capacity Building via E-governance Initiative: India is investing in the capacity building providing more than $1 billion in technical assistance and training to personnel under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) program.
- India has also invested $100 million in the Pan-African E-Network to bridge the digital divide in Africa, leveraging its strengths in information technology.
- Security Cooperation: Approximately 6,000 Indian soldiers are deployed in UN peace-keeping missions in conflict zones in Africa.
- Cooperation on Multiple Fronts: Bilateral cooperation includes solar energy (Cooperation in International Solar Alliance) development, information technology, cybersecurity, maritime security, disaster relief, counter-terrorism and military training.
- Support in Fight Against Covid-19: Under the e-ITEC initiative, India has shared Covid-19 management strategies, training webinars exclusively aimed at training health-care professionals from Africa by Indian health experts.
Hence, on general trend if we see India’s Africa policy restricted to traditional sectors of investments and is more of helping in nature. Though the investment is made in the African countries, this investment has resulted as beneficial for both countries.
Views on the India’s Africa Policy:
- India’s Africa policy over the past few decades has oscillated between passive and reluctantly reactive at best. Strategic apathy toward the continent was obvious on many fronts.
- Most of the countries in Africa did not feature in India’s larger foreign policy matrix, but until recently there wasn’t any significant attention paid to the continent.
- Indian leaders seldom travelled to African nations.
- The narrative of India’s contemporary relationship with Africa is dominated by the historicity of their interactions. The century old trade partnerships, socio-cultural linkages built by a thriving diasporas, nationalist movements during the Nehruvian era that supported anti-imperial struggles, and shifting geopolitical tides with the Non-Alignment Movement (NAM).
- Beyond this rhetoric, what kept driving this relationship forward was the acquisition of critical assets by State Owned Enterprises (SOE) looking to diversify the energy basket away from West Asian nations and other commercial ventures by Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) and Multi-National Companies (MNC).
However, some changes also have been observed in the recent years as follows:
- Currently, India’s forte in the continent has been developmental initiatives such as Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC), Team 9, and Pan Africa e-network among others are aimed at building institutional and human capacity as well as enabling skills and knowledge transfer.
- Conscious attempt at evoking morality to reflect an “alternate model of development” by using terms such as “win-win cooperation” to describe New Delhi’s approach to Africa.
- A unique factor that sets Indian interactions apart is that there is palpable goodwill for people of Indian origin, a sense of familiarity and cultural connection, with Bollywood movies and songs often acting as a bridge.
- Whereas India’s policy has focused on job creation in the countries it has invested in, China has tended to bring in its own labour causing resentment among the locals.
- The Chinese model has often been criticised for creating huge debts for the nation in which it sets up projects, the Nairobi-Mombasa rail link being one example of this.
India will need to start delivering on the ground if the India-Africa partnership has to move beyond high level visits. Hence, Indian investments in Africa need to expand and diversify towards ‘broad’ range and not remain restricted to traditional sectors of investments. In order to keep the momentum of building political and economic ties with this increasingly important region, steps should be taken towards tailoring and funding joint projects for the sustainable development of the Africa.