Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
Africa has been in focus since last decade as its untapped potential is slowly becoming visible to world. The op-ed discusses India’s relationship with Africa in last 3 years, India-japan cooperation in Africa’s development and associated problems. Note down important points discussed in op-ed to use in Mains.
From UPSC perspective, following things are important:
Prelims level: African Development Bank, Asia Africa Growth Corridor, India-Africa Forum Summit, other organisations and countries mentioned.
Mains level: India-Africa relations, China angle in Indian inclination towards Africa and other related issues.
- India-Africa engagement is getting stronger with the active involvement of political and business leaders of both sides
- This was reflected in deliberations at the annual meeting of the African Development Bank (AfDB) recently
Confidence towards India:
- AfDB’s decision to hold its meeting here in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, demonstrated its confidence in recent achievements and future prospects of the Indian economy
- It also confirmed Africa’s growing interest in connecting more extensively with India Inc
- This conference came against the backdrop of the historic third India-Africa Forum Summit in October 2015 when all 54 African nations had sent their representatives, 41 of them at the level of head of state or government
Appreciation of foreign tours:
- African governments have also been appreciative of Indian leaders’ unprecedented readiness to visit Africa
- In the past two years, the President, the Vice President and the Prime Minister have visited 16 African countries in the east, west, north and south.
A growth corridor:
- Mr. Modi released a vision document on the “Asia Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC)”
- Study conducted by: This study was jointly produced by three research institutions of India and Japan — Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), New Delhi; the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), Jakarta, and the Institute of Developing Economies Japan External Trade Organisation (IDE-JETRO), Japan — in consultation with other Asian and African think tanks
- What it says? It envisages closer engagement between India and Africa for “sustainable and innovative development”, and will be anchored to four pillars: development and cooperation projects; quality infrastructure and institutional connectivity; enhancing capacities and skills; and people-to-people partnership
- Priority areas: The AAGC will accord priority to development projects in health and pharmaceuticals, agriculture and agro-processing, disaster management, and skill enhancement
- Special focus: It will have special focus on the following geographies: Africa, India and South Asia, Southeast Asia, East Asia and Oceania
- Preferences: This study indicates a preference for turning the 21st century into an Asian-African century, and not just an Asian century
Synergy between India and Japan:
- Convinced of the rising importance of the Indo-Pacific region as “the key driver for prosperity of the world”, the two leaders (Mr. Modi and Mr. Shinzo Abe) decided “to seek synergy” between India’s Act East Policy and Japan’s “Expanded Partnership for Quality Infrastructure”
- How it would work? This synergy would be reflected in better regional integration, improved connectivity and industrial networks
- Collaboration: The strategy encompasses India-Japan collaboration for accelerating development in Africa together with other like-minded countries such as the United States, Germany, France and probably the United Arab Emirates and Singapore
Differences in approach- China and India:
- Counter to OBOR? AAGC excited many observers and a few in the media asked experts whether this would be India’s answer to China’s One Belt One Road, who responded in negative way.
- Approaches of India and China towards Africa are essentially different
- China concentrates on infrastructure and cheque-book diplomacy, whereas India promotes a broader spectrum of cooperation projects and programmes focussed on the development of Africa’s human resources
- China goes solo, while India is desirous of working with other willing nations to assist Africa as per the latter’s priorities
- Limitless possibilities: While committed to a voluntary partnership with Africa, India is not “prescriptive” and this enlightened approach offers “limitless possibilities” for India-Africa cooperation
Challenges for India and Japan in Africa:
- Less time at disposal: India and Japan do not have the luxury of time in view of China’s rapidly expanding footprint in Africa
- Urgent action required: An urgent need exists for them to increase the scope of their development projects, create synergy among themselves, engage proactively with other willing partners, and thus turn the concept of the AAGC into a viable reality
- Start pilot projects: If New Delhi and Tokyo are anxious to make a difference, the most important task for them is to immediately initiate a few joint pilot projects involving the companies of India, Japan and a few African countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia and Mozambique in identified areas such as health care, agriculture and blue economy
- Unless results become visible in the short term, questions may arise about the credibility of their joint approach.