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India’s African safari

India’s African safari
Highlights

India is all set to reinvigorate its relations with all the 54 countries in Africa. The Indo-African partnership will further intensify in energy and agricultural sectors. The new grammar of relationship was arrived at the summit attended by 41 heads of state and government from African nations held in New Delhi.

India is all set to reinvigorate its relations with all the 54 countries in Africa. The Indo-African partnership will further intensify in energy and agricultural sectors. The new grammar of relationship was arrived at the summit attended by 41 heads of state and government from African nations held in New Delhi.

There is an international rush to Africa, especially from the United States, European Union, China and other nations to appropriate the potential in the resource-rich continent. India poised for higher economic growth is obviously keen on having an access to raw materials from Africa. Prime Minister Narendra Modi described, Indo-African engagement is a meeting of the dreams of one-third of humanity. At a time when China is fast expanding its foot print in Africa, India cannot remain passive.

The African continent, which got frustrated by the western neo-colonial exploitation, is looking towards China and India for a redefined engagement. India should therefore ensure that economic and trade relationship with Africa is not exploitative in character.

This is also essential for a long-term sustainable partnership with the countries in the region that are witnessing a new awakening. Indian investment in African oilfields has been significantly increasing. But, as Economic and Political Weekly cautioned in an editorial, the real nature of this oil trade between Africa and India is merely one of natural resources being extracted from the former for the economic benefits of the latter. Africa’s resources can fuel India’s economic growth. But, India should focus on making this partnership a win-win situation for India and Africa.

Indian companies are in the global race to acquire huge tracts of arable land across Africa. A report entitled, India’s Role in the New Global Farmland Grab by Rick Rowden produced in collaboration with GRAIN and the Economics Research Foundation, cautioned on the negative economic and environmental consequences for host countries due to such a land acquisition by Indian companies too.

Instead, India can promote a decentralised small farm centric model of agricultural development. The Indian agricultural engagement should ensure trickle down of technology and income to African farmers but not lucrative profits for our agricultural companies alone. India’s African safari should be a genuine South-South cooperation. Our embrace with this erstwhile dark continent should aim at helping these countries to liberate from centuries of colonial and neo-colonial exploitation rather than perpetuating it in any form.

The demand for energy, food and minerals in India is registering an unprecedented rise due to its demographic dividend. The largely untapped mineral, natural resources of Africa create a strategic basis for fostering higher level of economic interaction for India.

But, India should only be conscious and cautious to not to tread the western model of engagement with Africa. India should not emerge as new colonialist in this fledgling continent but be an active and reliable partner in shaping the destiny of our African brothers and sisters.

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