India-Africa Summit 2011

A Bold Stride in African Safari

Dr. Suresh Kumar

Diplomatist. Vol. III. Issue No.6. July 2011. www.diplomatist.com

(This article is the revised version of the Panel Discussion on India-Africa Relations of 25 May 2011, Analysis of India-Africa Forum Summit 2011, in समायिकी कार्यक्रम, & Daily Spotlight Programme in different channels of AIR, 28 May 2011. India-Egypt Contemporary Relations, al-Jazeera, TV English Channel, 30 May 2011).


The year 1935 saw Nehru in his role of an active Africanist engaged in a crusade against the march of fascism in Africa. He was very much upset at the fascist invasion of Abyssinia (as Ethiopia was then known) in October 1935 and waged a relentless campaign against so much fascism in Africa. Nehru gave a call for the observance of Abyssinia Day on May 9, 1936. He appealed to the Indian people to observe Abyssinia Day and said: “Addis Ababa lies at the foot of the conqueror. Ethiopia inspite of her gallant defence of her independence lies helpless and prostrate before the brutal might of fascist imperialism. —we in India can do nothing to help our brethren in distress in Ethiopia for we also are victims of imperialism. But we can at least send them sympathy in the hour of their trial. We stand with them today in their sorrow as we hope to stand together when better days come” (Jawaharlal Nehru. April 1936. Presidential Address. Lucknow Congress Session & A.I.C.C. File. 1936: 59-60). The second India-Africa Forum Summit of 24-25 May 2011 at Addis Ababa is the beginning of the movement of renaissance of what Pt. Nehru said to stand together in the better days. The academic communities in the Indian Universities were made aware of the importance of Africa in the pre-independence days and consequently five Kenyan students were selected for study in India in July 1947 a month before India’s Independence on 15th August 1947.

Path for Mutual Development

Today, India offers to establish new institutions and training programmes worth USD 700 million (Table-1), opening India-Africa Virtual University to meet higher studies demand among African students and providing 10,000 new scholarships every year from 2011 onwards for African students will be given under this new University scheme. Along with it, the Pan-Africa Electronic Network project will strengthen the idea of Virtual University among African students. Indian support to establish the India-Africa University for life & Earth Sciences will also strengthen Science & Technology programmes in Africa. All these universities, research centers and Pan Africa connectivity will educate the African human resource to work for African needs. Along with it, India offers to provide the education in the field of information technology, entrepreneurship development & vocational training (Table-1). Besides, India offers to open India-Africa forecasting centers for medium range weather forecasting by connecting areas of agriculture, fisheries, disaster management & its preparedness in advance and meant for the availability of natural resources. All the education centers of Africa will train the professionals in these universities and provide the employment opportunities in these research centers. The education training in the field of Science & technology will support the neglected areas of Africa’s agriculture & rural development. This initiative further establishes rural technology for food testing laboratories, food processing and incubation centers, centers on geo-informatics application & rural development. It will strengthen through the Africa-India Institutes for Agriculture & Rural Development in Africa.

The development of rural sector through education, science and technology leading to Green Revolution, production of marine resources will encourage trade flows and technology. To have stabilized economic growth, there is a need to formulate the India-Africa Business Council to bring business leader from both sides together. The idea of Business Council will work further for Pan-Africa Stock Exchange and connect it with Indian business houses.

Table-1 India-Africa Forum Summit Highlights

Sr Project Area Amount Beneficiaries
1 Line of Credit for Africa’s development in consultation with Africa Union USD 05 billion All AU members
2 Establish new institution & training programmes in consultation of AU & its various institutions USD 700 million All AU members
3 A new Ethiopian-Djibouti Railway line to cultivate Land locked nature USD 300 million Ethiopia & Djibouti
4 v Scholarship to African students for Higher Education 10,000 in number All AU members
5 v Supporting development of African capacities in the maintenance of Peace & Security. USD 2 million Strengthening African endeavors and indigenous solution in Somalia

Source: India-Africa Forum Summit24 May 2011Addis Ababa.

India’s mutual development policy will open regional level science, water & tissue testing laboratories, regional farm science centre, seed production cum demonstration centre & material testing laboratories for hybrids that will strengthen the bonds of different member countries towards their regional economic community such as SADC, COMESA, IGAD, SACU and others. These regional centers will be taken care by African human resource in the long run because of India’s seriousness about Africa’s education. To overcome from language barrier Africa in general and especially in the Francophone Africa, India offers to establish bilateral level Institute for English language training. The language training will share the real ideas among the communities of Indian-African teaching, scientists, businessmen, theatre groups, press & media personalities, Stock exchanges and bureaucrats.

Path for Mutual Peace & Security

India and Africa are directly concerned with the issues of peace & security and international terrorism. The political unstable conditions in South Asia are a worrisome issue for India. Indian Ocean is the major linkage between Africa and India. India is looking for mutual a respectful partnership that ensures the stability of the Indian Ocean. This setting will ensure the continued safe flow of goods and natural resources through the Indian Ocean and beyond, which is still very susceptible to piracy. There is a tremendous scope for improvement of trade and economic cooperation via Indian Ocean that deepens the bond between India and Africa connectivity. Indian Ocean, a source of threat either by international terrorists or oceanic powers are a major concern of Africa & India’s security today. The priority to Africa is concerned with broader national security as well. India’s foreign policy is seriously focusing on the untapped sea-natural resources in the Indian Ocean. The coastal water forms the habitat for ecologically sensitive and commercially important marine organisms. Indian Ocean needs to be developed as a hub inter-linking Africa & Asia, sharing its fisheries and other rich marine resources as an alternate food resource. At the same time, India & Africa’s growing relations needs mutual understanding to deal with international deterrence. International terrorism will be curbed only through people’s development. India offers 2 million USD for AU Peace Mission in Somalia and supporting indigenous solution of African capacities in the maintenance of Peace & Security.


The rich Indian experience of practicing democracy and pluralism is the only solution for sustainable development and to curb the international terrorism. Our democracy offers a supportive economic climate as a pre-requisite for some degree of social cohesion and political consensus. This linking development with democracy in Africa is focused on a set of preconditions to be fulfilled in order to achieve a good society. It is only then that the peaceful transformation of power based on federal democratic structure will actually take place. There are compelling reasons for a high degree of regional autonomy in large African countries with culturally diverse populations. India’s rich experience of dealing fiscal federalism, however, can only help Africa to find purely economic solutions to federal problems. The process of decentralization appears more active issue of administrative reforms in Africa and has become an object of mass mobilization and popular politics.

India and African continent are known more through western media such as Discovery Channel, BBC World Service, CNN, Travel & Living Channel (TLC) and National Geography Channel (NGC). It has been now realized to get over this biased propaganda and know more about each other directly. India offers African Airlines to access different cities in India and build air connectivity of the people of India and Africa. Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India address at the Joint Session of the two Houses of the Ethiopian Parliament said firmly, “There was movement in the other direction too. Thousands of people of Ethiopian origin have settled in India and have become an integral part of Indian society along the West Coast of India. The fort of Murud Janjira in the State of Maharashtra stands as a symbol of African influence in India. These exchanges have produced remarkable and often overlooked similarities in our traditions and cultures. The Siddis of African descent living in India have created a fusion of Indian and African styles of music that thrives today. The tradition in southern India of using fermented flour for making Dosa is similar to the Injara in Ethiopia. The sight of women with heads covered and men wearing turbans is strikingly common in Ethiopian and Indian villages. Hospitality in humble village homes begins with simple offerings, and guests are treated as incarnations of the gods” (Address of Prime Minister. 26 May 2011). India-Africa connectivity will grow by mutual interaction and that both the continents can develop themselves in the decolonization process. This is the only way to know each other, which will break the myth propaganda sphere of India acting as colonial power in Africa on the one side and the people-to-people connectivity understands the real objectives of rural development on the other hand. The day is not far when the operation of sea railway through the Indian Ocean will connect the people of India and Africa and an African farmer will visit Indian market with the excuse to sell their food grains, fruits and vegetables and build socio-economic-cultural fusion among common man. The offer of USD 300 million for new Ethiopian-Djibouti Railway line to delimit the land locked nature of Ethiopia is the initiative in this direction to begin with. This South-South relationship carries forward the historical past of mutual working and strengthens this flagship for the peaceful and secure world.