051_Global12_InFocus_IndiainAfrica_V6

Global issue 12

In FocusIndia in Africa education, training and railways. Stating that Africa was emerging as the new growth pole of the world, Dr Singh added, “The current international economic and political situation is far from favour- able, particularly for developing countries. Even as the global economy is recovering from the economic crisis, fresh political up- heavals are taking place. The world faces new challenges in assuring food and energy security. Global institutions of governance are outmoded and under stress. “We therefore need a new spirit of soli- darity among developing countries. We must recognise that in this globalised age we all live interconnected lives in a small and fragile planet. We must work together to uplift the lives of our people in a manner that preserves the sustainability of our com- mon air, land and water.” This sentiment, implying genuine part- The spirit of Nehru lives behind a new political and economic pragmatism nership with Africa, has gone down well, particularly in East Africa with its long his- India’s attempts to widen its diplomatic into Namibia, Niger. But what we don’t re- torical connections with the subcontinent. presence will inevitably be compared to ally get out of the relationship between In- A series of bilateral projects in education, that of its Asian rival, China, which since dia and Africa is the backlash, as is the case ICT, food processing, textiles, agriculture the turn of the millennium has embarked on in China,” Naidu adds. and transport infrastructure, announced a massive, coordinated programme of com- “In a way, I think India likes to play in the during the summit, has been equally wel- mercial, economic and diplomatic engage- shadows, because as long as China is in the comed. ment. This in turn has precipitated consid- spotlight, China is getting all the attention, While critics have complained that In- erable hand-wringing in Western capitals, China is getting all the criticisms.” dia’s direct political engagement in recent and also in New Delhi. As the country’s interests in the natural re- years – composed of smaller-scale, seem- “It has always been the context of In- sources sector in Africa increase, and as its ingly disparate initiatives that trail in the dia’s emergence in Africa, that it seems to companies take a greater role in agriculture, wake of the huge infrastructure projects be following in China’s footprint,” Naidu including the politically sensitive issues of and grand gestures coming from Beijing – believes. “Analysts have said that China’s land rights which that entails, the chance of appears to lack an overarching strategy, it resource strategy is being emulated by the the focus shifting on to India grows. does offer a friendlier alternative to China’s Indians. China set up the Forum on China– Sometimes the rivalry between the two more muscular approach. Africa Cooperation, the Indians set up the is very much in the open. When Chinese This, in part, Naidu says, is due to the Africa–India Forum Summit in 2008. There President Hu Jintao visited the Seychelles necessity to layer on the strategy ex post in 2007, beginning a pattern of overtures facto, a strategic element to their engage- India’s emergence in Africa to the Indian Ocean islands that New Delhi ment, taking in economic development and has long considered its backyard, it caused energy – and national security. seems to be following in considerable introspection in India. This is not easy to do, and comes with China’s footprint as they The Indian Ocean remains the transit considerable risks. While Indian companies route for the majority of the country’s en- – particularly those in the health care, phar- emulate the Chinese ergy resources. Somali piracy has spread maceutical, agriculture and transport sec- across the region, causing concerns for the tors – can offer considerable developmental resources strategy. There safety of shipping, while China’s explicit benefits to their host countries, the potential is an interesting dynamic strategy of building a chain of military for corporate missteps reflecting badly on outposts – the so-called ‘string of pearls’ – the government is high. of the elephant chasing the stretching all the way to Africa has placed it sector at least strong links into the East dragon’s tail in direct competition with India.“Hu Jintao was really putting himselfIts diaspora has also given the private African community. However, it is diver- about when he was visiting the Seychelles sifying, looking to the hydrocarbon econ- seems to be an interesting dynamic of, per- and Mauritius. China was building airports, omies of West Africa and deepening ties haps, the elephant chasing the dragon’s tail.” setting up special economic zones off the with Ethiopia, where it is both a diplomatic In some areas, India’s interest is nakedly Seychelles, and that impelled India to buck partner and a major investor. It was telling, for the acquisition of strategic minerals, up its ideas,” says Gerard McCann, a lec- Naidu notes, how quick New Delhi was to such as uranium, to be used in its civilian turer in modern history at the University of offer condolences on the death of the Ethio- nuclear programme. Indian companies have York and an expert in India’s engagement pian prime minister, Meles Zenawi, earlier also invested heavily in coal and iron ore. with the developing world. this year. “What is interesting is that they moved “I remember this memorable quote from globalfourth quarter 2012 www.global-briefing.org l51


Global issue 12
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