Diplomatist Magazine Diplomatist April 2018 - Page 54

AFRICA DIARY Indian industries looking to invest and create a sustainable partnership with African countries. In the second India- Africa Trade Ministers meeting, the 'India-Africa Business Council' (IABC) was launched on 17 March, 2012 in New Delhi. The council is intended as a mechanism for offering suggestions about the way forward for enhancing economic and commercial relations between India and Africa and also identify and address issues which hinder growth of economic partnerships between them. Security Cooperation The Indian Ocean has become a signifi cant factor in India’s Africa policy. Africa’s east coast is seen as part of India’s ‘extended neighborhood’ and has security policy implications for India. Through naval diplomacy and the opening of listening posts, India is aiming at strengthened security cooperation with East African states in the Indian Ocean region. The necessity to safeguard trade routes from pirate attacks and terrorism constitutes India’s growing security policy engagement in Africa. India has been increasing its military ties with African states like Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar, Tanzania, and Mozambique. Recently, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the fi rst of 32 planned Coastal Surveillance Radar stations in Seychelles. India is also regularly patrolling the Mozambique Channel, supplying equipment and training, and providing maritime assistance. The Indian navy has also contributed to anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden since 2008. This has led to greater interactions between the Indian Navy and other navies in the region. Apart from regular shipping visits, efforts are also made to share best practices and build capacity through training, transfer of naval hardware and intelligence sharing. India has also constructed a high-tech monitoring station in northern Madagascar to tackle piracy and terrorism, while keeping an eye on the sea lanes as well as China which is critical for its security and economy. As the third largest contributor of personnel to United Nations Peacekeeping Operations (UNPKO), India’s significant participation in conflict-containment and reconstruction processes is well acknowledged in Africa. At present, Indian Armed Forces are currently undertaking UN Missions in Democratic Republic of Congo (since January 2005), Sudan and South Sudan (since April 2005), Cote d’Ivoire (since April 2004), and in Liberia (since April 2007). Furthermore, both India and Africa, as victims of global terrorism, could partner in proposed multilateral and regional-counter terror initiatives in Africa. Engaging the Diaspora There has been a marked shift in India’s diaspora policy since the 1990s from a policy of ‘active-disassociation’ in the earlier decades, to ‘pro-active association’. India is engaged in a vigorous strategy to rope in its diaspora not only for economic purposes but also to strengthen its relations with their host countries. As India seeks to become a signifi cant global player, it has started a strong and sustained engagement with its diaspora. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent string of whirlwind tours and new initiatives have transformed Indian foreign policy. It has served the purpose of raising India’s global profi le as well as in mobilising the Indian diaspora. PM Modi’s worldwide visits which engage the Indian diaspora in large numbers has created a momentum and perception about India’s pro-diasporic approach which argues well for the Indian policy towards its diaspora in Africa. The Indian diaspora in Africa is estimated to be 2.6 million in number and spread across 46 countries. It has a strong presence in the Western Indian Ocean Island states like Mauritius, Seychelles and Madagascar apart from East African countries and South Africa. The Indian diaspora in many African countries is not only in a privileged economic position, but also enjoys political infl uence. Given their strength and potential, the Indians in Africa could be a strategic asset in promoting India’s economic growth and national interest. However, the level and impact of the Indian Diaspora in strengthening bilateral relations with African countries will much depend on the policy initiatives of both African countries and India, along with the strength and interests of its diaspora in the years to come. Conclusion In the decades since 1990, India and countries in Africa have witnessed a series of economic reforms amid the globalisation of the world economy, as well as a change in rank and international profi le. In light of the same, India has taken various initiatives to rope in African countries in its drive for economic and strategic cooperation to achieve shared developmental goals. This has resulted in a slew of initiatives aimed at enhancing India’s engagement with Africa that included Focus Africa, TEAM-9, Agriculture Development Projects, Lines of Credit facilities and investment in energy sector, and India-Africa Project Partnership Conclaves. The India-Africa forum summits will also help in crystallizing the partnership and will open new pathways of cooperation. Recently, the Indian government has approved the opening of 18 new Indian Missions in Africa over a period from 2018- 2021 which will further enhance India's outreach to African countries. Furthermore, recent visits by Indian Prime Minister and President to several African countries in 2016-17, and visits by 12 African heads of government and state to India since 2015, have all further contributed to the rapid growth of Indo-African ties. * The author is an Associate Professor at Department of African Studies, University of Delhi. 52 • Extraordinary and Ple \[X\H\X]\8( 8(\YH 8(\[ N Y