Syllabus: General Studies Paper 2 (International Relations)
“A historical solidarity is today a modern partnership,” tweeted external affairs minister s. Jaishankar during his recent trip to kenya.
- India has a long history of partnership with africa, with solidarity and political affinitygoing back to the early 1920s when both regions were fighting against colonial rule and oppression.
- India’s freedom movementhad an internationalist outlook; many indian nationalists viewed the struggle for independence as part of the worldwide movement against imperialism.
- After india gained independence, it became a leading voice in support of african decolonisation at the united nations.
- Independent india, though extremely poor after two centuries of colonial exploitation, strived to share its limited resources with african countries under the banner of south-south cooperation.
- In 1964, india launched the indian technical and economic cooperation (itec) programmeto provide technical assistance through human resource development to other developing countries, with african countries the greatest beneficiaries of it and the special commonwealth african assistance programme (scaap).
Indias role in africa:
- A historical solidarityis today a modern partnership. Critical to its foreign policy matrix, india’s engagement with the african continent has been multifaceted, with projects implemented under indian lines of credit, capacity-building initiatives, and cooperation in a range of sectors.
- As an importer of fruits, nuts, grains and pulses from the continent, indian congruence with african countries in the agriculture sector is expanding.
- With 65% of the world’s uncultivated arable land, employing over 60% of the workforce, and accounting for almost 20% of sub-saharan africa’s gdp, agriculture is critical to africa’s economy.
- The african continental free trade area agreementis expected to improve cost competitiveness by removing tariffs.
- As this relationship enters the post-pandemic world, it is vital to prioritise and channel resources into augmenting partnership in agriculture.
- This is crucial given its unexplored potential, centrality to global food security, business prospects and to provide credible alternativesto the increasing involvement of chinese stakeholders in the sector.
- india is currently africa’s fourth-largest trading partner, and africa’s third-largest export destination.
- Indian government initiatives like focus africa (2002), team-9 (2004), duty-free tariff preference scheme for least developed countries (2008), and the institution of the india africa forum summit (held in 2008, 2011, 2015), have succeeded in lifting bilateral trade and investment flows to new heights.
- After south asia, africa is the second-largest recipient of indian overseas assistance with lines of credit (loc) worth nearly $10 billion (42 per cent of the total) spread over 100 projects in 41 countries.
- It is an economic cooperation agreement between india and japan which envisages closer engagement between asia and africa for “sustainable and innovative development”and will be anchored by these pillars.
Chinese engagement in africa:
- Many chinese entities have been active in africa’s agricultural landscape for decades now, the nature, form and actors involved have undergone substantial change.
- In zambia, chinese firms are introducing agri-tech to combat traditional challenges, such as using drone technology to control the fall armyworm infestation.
- They have set up over 20 agricultural technology demonstration centers (atdcs) in the continent where chinese agronomists work on developing new crop varieties and increasing crop yields.
- These atdcs partner with local universities, conduct workshops and classes for officials and provide training and lease equipment to small holder farmers.
- Chinese companies with no prior experience in agriculture are setting out to build futuristic ecological parks while others are purchasing large-scale commercial farms.
- Furthermore, african agriculture experts, officials and farmers are provided opportunities to augment skills and be trained in china.
Takeways for india:
- India-africa agricultural cooperationcurrently includes institutional and individual capacity-building initiatives such as the india-africa institute of agriculture and rural development in malawi, extension of soft loans, supply of machinery, acquisition of farmlands and the presence of indian entrepreneurs in the african agricultural ecosystem.
- Indian farmers have purchased over 6,00,000 hectares of land for commercial farming in africa.
- Sub-national actors are providing another model of cooperation in agriculture.
- While india’s africa strategy exists independently, it is important to be cognizant of china’s increasing footprint in the region.
- Beijing’s model, if successful here, could be heralded as a replica for the larger global south.
- It is important to note, however, that prominent african voices have emphasized that their own agency is often overlooked in the global discourse on the subject.
Question: elucidate upon india’s foreign policy priority to africa and also examine the need for revamping india-africa policy to deepen its ties for mutual benefits.