India ' s Relations with Africa

India’s relations with other countries are important topics in the UPSC international relations segment. In this article, you can read about the relations India has with the countries of the African continent, for the IAS exam.

India has fully sympathised with the aspirations of the African people to attain self-reliance. India has transferred technology in various forms such as direct foreign investment in the attractive sectors like petroleum, mining and export, agriculture and industry etc. Trade has been the other mechanism for transfer of technology embodied in goods and services. However, India’s trade with African countries has not been large and continued to be stagnant during the period 1960-70, and even after that. Further, this trade has been mainly confined to some countries of Africa like viz. Nigeria, Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana etc. India has also provided extensive facilities for the training of the local people so that they may be able to play an active role in the management and development of various projects. Training facilities have been provided to personnel of these countries in India. In addition a number of experts have been sent to various African countries. After the African countries gained independence, India and the African countries took identical stand on various international issues. They expressed full faith in the policy of non-alignment and peaceful coexistence. On the wider economic issues like North-South Dialogue also they have worked in complete co-operation and have come to accept the need of closer horizontal co-operation between the undeveloped countries.

Impact of Afro-Asian Resurgence on International Relations

The impacts are:
  1. Change in the nature of international relations
  2. It gave a setback to imperialism and racialism
  3. Gave serious setback to colonial system
  4. Democratisation of International Relations
  5. Helped in strengthening world peace
  6. Prominent role at the UN
  7. Increased the importance of UN
  8. Significant role in the creation of NIEO.

India and Liberation Struggle in Africa

India has consistently supported the Liberation Movements in various African countries and took up the cause of the African countries in the United Nation, the commonwealth Conferences and other international forums. First, India tried to impress on the United States that the Trusteeship System should be worked in the interest of dependent people and there should not be any parcelling out of territories on the basis of strategic needs. India also insisted that the Trusteeship powers must supply regular information to the United Nations Organization regarding the measure taken by them or proposed to be taken by them with a view to expedite the grant of independence or self-government to the trust territories.

Racial Discrimination and Colonialism

India was the first country to take up the question of apartheid and racial discrimination practised by the South African regime. India raised the question or racial discrimination being made by South African government against the people of Indian origin in South Africa constituted a violation of the fundamental human right.

Cooperation through International Organization

India has also tried to assist the African countries through international organizations. Thus in 1979 India gave a grant of Rs. 50 lakhs to United Nations Trust Fund for African Development, and thus earned the distinction of being the first non-African Developing country to contribute to this fund. India also joined African Development Bank and thus participated in the various projects funded by the African Bank.

Support to Liberation Movements Outside United Nations

Outside the United Nations also India extended full support to the African liberation movements and various organizations founded for the purpose. India particularly showed great appreciation for the Organization of African Unity (O.A.U.) set up in 1963, which endeavoured to create conditions to find an African solution to the African problem. As India did not seek any privileged position in relation to the African countries it did not take part in the liberation movement and tried to channelise its aid chiefly through the O.A.U.

Economic Assistance to Africa

India did not merely extend support to the African countries in their struggle for freedom but also provided economic assistance during the struggle and after independence, primarily with a view to ensure stability and economic prosperity in the African continent, and to strengthen their hard-won independence. India provided special assistance to countries like Mauritius, Tanzania, Zambia, Nigeria, Libya and Algeria. It set up joint commissions of economic and technical cooperation with these countries. These commissions hold periodical meetings and try to promote cooperation by identifying new areas of economic activity.

Faith in Non-Alignment

Both India and African countries profess faith in the policy of non-alignment. They adopted this policy because they wanted to preserve their newly won freedom and independence.

Economic Collaboration

India has also been increasingly collaborating with the African countries which has been of mutual benefit to both. India has secured some of world’s biggest contracts. India also got a contract to construct world’s most sophisticated airport in an arid area. India has procured contracts for the construction of hospitals, houses and irrigation dams in Libya.

Transfer of Technology

India has fully sympathized with the aspirations of the Africans to attain self-reliance. Trade is one of the mechanism for the transfer of technology embodied in goods and services.India has also contributed to the economic development of Africa through transfer of technology. India’s trade with the African countries has not been large and continued to be stagnant during the period 1960-70.

Drought Assistance

India has provided funds and foodstuffs at the time of drought. It also made available expertise and technical assistance in the development of agriculture along modern lines and development of irrigation facilities so that these problems can be tackled on long term basis.India has also showed its solidarity with various African countries at the time of their distress and provided them every possible assistance. India has also extended assistance to various African countries in the development of non-conventional energy sources, rural electrification solar energy and wind power.

Credit Facilities

Despite her tight financial position India has made available to several African countries enormous amounts as credit on most reasonable terms. It offered credit between 5 to 10 crores to countries like Tanzania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Zambia, Uganda, Sudan etc. for purchase of India manufactured goods such as textiles and engineering goods, tractors, motor cycles, buses, trucks, bicycles etc.

Problems of Indians in Africa

India has maintained very intimate relations with Africa since the day of independence. She not only extended full support to the liberation movements in different African countries and took the cause of African countries at the United Nations and other international forums, but also extended every possible help to these countries to enable them to make quick economic .

Decolonisation and Asia-African Resurgence

  • Most of the countries of Asia and Africa at the time of their independence were suffering from chronic problems of poverty, unemployment, illiteracy and disease.
  • To a large extent these problems were mainly the result of their long exploitation by the colonial powers. The colonies took away all the important raw materials and dumped manufactured goods, which greatly retarded the economic and social progress of these colonies.
  • Though the states of Asia and Africa differed from each other, yet they possessed some common features. For example – all of than had a history of western domination of varying duration and degree of severity.
  • All of then were under developed and characterized by
    • low standards of living
    • widespread illiteracy
    • parochial loyalties
    • economic stagnation
    • political break down
  • The Afro-Asian countries did not possess any factories, roads, railways and means of communication.
  • People had a high rate of illiteracy and there were hardly any facilities for higher education. A semblance of Banking service did exist in some of the countries which were created by the colonial powers to promote their own trade interests.
  • As these countries did not have any industries, their economies were purely agricultural.
  • The political freedom in these countries paved the way for two other revolutions viz : (a) Masters of science and technology for economic growth and efforts to bring about social transformation of their societies, (b) The people of Asia and Africa felt that their political freedom shall be incomplete without progress in social and economic sphere.
  • Due to the emergence of Afro-Asian countries, the nature and character of international relations has been changed.
  • The Afro-Asian resurgence gave a serious setback to imperialism and racialism. In the elimination of racialism, these countries planed a significant role. They fully utilised the forum of the UN, the GA in particular to impress the international community that racialism was an international problem. It was mainly due to the efforts of the Afro-Asian group in the UN that the racialism in South Africa and Rhodesia, etc.
  • The emergence of Afro-Asian countries has given a serious blow to the colonial system.
  • After independence these countries extended full support to the nationalist movements.
  • With the emergence of Afro-Asian countries, a change has also taken place in the manner of conduct of foreign policy. After the emergence of new states, people began to play an important role in the formulation of foreign policy and international relations have assumed a democratic character.
  • The Afro-Asian countries have rendered great service to the cause of world peace by adopting the path of non-alignment and keeping off from the power bloc.
  • The Afro-Asian countries due to their numerical strength, have been able to play a prominent, rather dominant role in the UN.
  • Though Afro-Asian countries were economically and military weak, they tried to place greater reliance on the UN and other international agencies for the solution of various political, economic and social problem.
  • Ever since their independence the Afro-Asian countries have been insisting on the regulation of economic relations among various nations on terms of equality.
  • In 1974, the UN G.A. adopted a resolution regarding the establishment of NIEO.

The above discussion clearly establishes that the resurgence of Afro-Asian countries has left a deep impact on international relations significance of the resurgence of Asia-African Countries.

Pan-African e-Network Project

Government of India’s flagship project under which India is helping setting up a fiber-optic network to provide satellite connectivity, tele-medicine and tele-education to 53 countries of Africa, has been commissioned in 47 countries out of the 48 that signed the agreement with TCIL for participating in the project. The Project is presently being implemented in South Sudan. The Project has been commissioned in the following 47 countries: Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Under the Tele-education part, 9960 students from African countries have already registered with Indian universities and are being imparted Tele-education by Indian universities. 3577 tele-education sessions and 465 Tele-Medicine consultations had also taken place till October 2012. Regular Continuing Medical Education (CME) sessions from Super Specialty Hospitals had started from 22 April 2009.

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