India and the African countries are in news lately, however the ties between the two regions date back to the ancient civilizations. Along with geographical proximity, there are factors such as the cultural connect, colonial past and development hurdles that are more or less common to both and thus bring each other much closer.This article throws light on India-Africa relations which will be useful for UPSC Civil Services Exam preparation.
In this context it can be rightly said that through cooperation if the opportunities of these two regions is utilized, then there cannot be anything bigger in the geopolitical world scenario today than this cooperation.
Although triggered by the unfortunate racist attacks, however in this article we would try to learn and focus on the historical ties, how this relationship moved ahead and where do we stand today. This article intends to make the learners aware about the two regions in the most comprehensive manner and build a base for future understanding and correlation with the topic.
- Once known as the ‘dark continent’ by the colonial exploiters due to inaccessibility into the interiors of the continent
- The geographical proximity between the two was an important factor for building up relations during the ancient and the colonial period
Advent of Colonialism
- During the medieval time the Africans came to India and were part of the muslim rule in India
- A good example could be of ‘Malik Amber’ and the ‘Siddis’ who are still a part of the Indian population and are settled in parts of Gujarat, Karnataka and Hyderabad
- India’s link with the African continent dates back to the anti-apartheid struggle of Mahatma Gandhi with the colonial rulers in South Africa
- India has been aggressively putting forward the issue of apartheid on multilateral forums such as UN, NAM And Commonwealth
- Even though tackling its own problems within the first two and three decades, India shared experts in the field of agriculture and other fields. This helped generate goodwill
- Africa can be said to be a home to one of the fastest growing countries of the decade
- Today the Indian-African diplomatic relations range from India – Africa Forum Summit (IAFS), India Regional Economic Communities (RECs) meetings, annual India – Africa trade ministers meeting along with others
- It goes ahead with business meetings such as the ‘Pan Africa e-network’ and multilateral forums such as the ‘Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation’ (IOR – ARC)’
- The India-Africa Summits since 2008 have further enhanced the South-South cooperation
- India has been an active member of the UN peacekeeping missions to Africa for conflict management in the region
- Strengthened the political bond through forums and groupings such as IBSA and BRICS
Source: The Indian Express
- There is a positive change observed within the African continent and their urge to economically diversify is visible
- Business bodies such as the CII and FICCI are playing a very substantial role in bringing Africa and India together
- A recent FICCI study ‘The Rising India’ says, “Nowhere in the world is the impact of economic growth and development as visible as in Africa”
- The development of Africa with respect to the growing middle class, reducing poverty and growing trend of globalization makes it an apt destination for India to engage in investments and trade with Africa
- Our exports include medicines, refined petroleum products and others. This enables us to find an alternate promising market when our markets of the west are slowly diminishing due to various economic and political reasons. This enables the dream of ‘Make in India’ going strong
Along with this, Prime Minister’s visit to four African nations (Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya, Vice President Hamid Ansari’s recent visit to Morocco and Tunisia and the visit by President Pranab Mukherjee to three countries – Ghana, Ivory Coast and Namibia showcase India’s eagerness for a healthy relationship between the two.
A Brief Analysis of the Third India-Africa Forum Summit
‘New Hopes, New Horizons’
The Third India-Africa Forum Summit held recently unveiled a “dynamic and transformative agenda”. This agenda is of mutual empowerment and mutual resurgence between India and the African nations to strengthen the bond even more in the future.
This was the third summit, which was started in 2008, since when two summits had taken place.
However, this is the first time that 54 heads of the states out of a total of 54 in the African continent came to India together for one cause.
There were commemorative coins that were released to mark the event. They were as shown below:
The ‘Delhi Declaration’ of 2015 envisages the India-Africa partnership in development. On the same lines, India would be providing a credit of $10 billion to Africa for development projects along with a grant assistance of $600 million.
This grant includes development fund, health fund and scholarship for students in India. The Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation(ITEC) programme has already laid base for knowledge sharing and has acted as a bridge to connect students from both the sides.
The Delhi Declaration is in sync with the ‘Africa’s Vision 2063’ which also focusses on growth, stability and prosperity.
Arc of Prosperity
India-Africa Business Forum was also held as an important segment of the summit. It is noteworthy that the India-Africa trade has exceeded $70 billion!
Along with economic development through public private partnerships, institution building, infrastructure development and development of small and medium enterprises, the focus will also be on poverty alleviation, healthcare, education and sustainable development.
An agenda was brought out in the summit or the development of blue economy or ocean economy which is aimed at development of marine resources sustainably for the growth and development of countries like India, on the African coast and other littoral states with coastlines.
Commemorative stamps were also issued during the summit:
India called for partnership with Africa in raising voice for the reform of international institutions such as the United Nations and its security council.
It also stressed for collective action for climate change with the mantra of ‘clean and green’. It includes the invitation given by India to all the African countries to be a part of the Indian initiative and join the ‘Solar Club’ for a partnership in areas of clean energy, sustainable habitats, public transport and climate resilient agriculture.
Partners in Peace
India is a major partner in the UN Peacekeeping missions in the African continent. The major peacekeeping missions in Africa in which India is involved are:
- Democratic Republic of Congo
- South Sudan
- Ivory Coast
Till date, India has deployed about 4,500 soldiers on the ground. This includes the only fully formed Indian female police unit in Liberia.
Opportunities for India
Apart from the immense opportunities as can be comprehended from the above analysis of the third India-Africa Forum Summit, some of the rest can be listed as below:
- India has the opportunity to benefit from Africa’s rich resources such as coal, oil, and natural gas reserves whereas Africa would gain from India’s world-class downstream capabilities
- Indian banks to expand their footprint on the continent for developing Africa’s financial market
- The huge market can serve as an alternative to ours
- The hydrocarbon from Africa is a source of clean, energy efficient fuel which is of immense importance given India’s ambitious goals for energy production and security
Challenges for India
- There is “considerable competition” for India within Asia for ambitious African projects
- Being “sensitive” towards local concerns and contribute to the development and prosperity of local communities is a prerequisite
- Piracy related activities off the coast of Somalia. However, India’s most significant achievement in Africa has been the naval escorting of more than 3000 merchantmen since 2008, in the pirate-infested waters off the Horn of Africa. The MEA also remarked “ no piracy attacks have taken place east of 65 degree East Longitude for more than 3 years now”
- The disease outbreak such as Ebola needs to be given special attention
- Racial discrimination is one of the biggest challenges in front of both the regions
- The rise of terrorism with organisations operating such as the Al Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram etc. give dangerous signals as India too has long been a victim of terrorism itself
Although Africa is going strong on the economic front, however there are severe challenges that are a major hindrance for the development of its people. The vicious cycle of poverty, unemployment, food security, environmental awareness, disease out breaks, poor health facilities and infrastructure are not only a challenge for the African countries but also India as India is facing the same problems which are deterring its growth and development, though at a lower scale.
As mentioned above of the ‘Agenda 2063’ of Africa to deal with the above stated challenges, India’s partnership in the form of ‘Delhi Declaration’ is a positive step in this direction for both the landmasses.
The recent racist attacks on the African nationals has left a dark spot on India’s hospitality. It betrays our own understanding of ‘Vasudhev Kutumbhkam’.It is high time that being a responsible citizen of the country, we need to realize that these steps are not isolated in nature but send the image of our nation as racist and intolerant. It marks a big blow on all our previous efforts to generate goodwill.
India and Africa share a bond as ancient as the civilization itself. We need to preserve it and nurture in the best possible way by avoiding any unfortunate incidents by following restraint and tolerance on part of citizens, stringent policy making in this regard on the part of the legislative and effective implementation on the part of the executive.
The importance of the ties between India and Africa was realized by our forefathers too for the development of both the land and the people.
The great leader of the world in General and Africa in particular ‘Nelson Mandela’ once remarked:
Taking ahead the culture of civilization tying it with our ancient past, it can be very rightly concluded by Mahatma Gandhi’s views:
How to approach for civil services exam:
General Studies 1:
Society: Common issues relating to poverty, malnutrition, unemployment, level of development, women’s issues and their comparison
History: Common struggle against colonialism
Geography: Natural Resources and demography
General Studies 2:
International Studies: Relations between India and Africa in general and with important countries in particular
General Studies 3:
Economy: Successful development models of countries such as South Africa
Bio-diversity and Environment: Cooperation with Africa for climate change, preservation of biodiversity
India and Africa have shared a common past and still continue to share a common agenda. Throw light on the statement taking into consideration the recent developments. (250 words)