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  • India and the African countries are in news lately, however the ties between the two regions date back to the ancient civilizations. Along with geographical proximity, there are factors such as the cultural connect, colonial past and development hurdles that are more or less common to both and thus bring each other much closer.
  • In this context it can be rightly said that through cooperation if the opportunities of these two regions is utilized, then there cannot be anything bigger in the geopolitical world scenario today than this cooperation.
  • Although triggered by the unfortunate racist attacks, however in this article we would try to learn and focus on the historical ties, how this relationship moved ahead and where do we stand today. This article intends to make the learners aware about the two regions in the most comprehensive manner and build a base for future understanding and correlation with the topic.

Backgrounder:

  • Once known as the ‘dark continent’ by the colonial exploiters due to inaccessibility into the interiors of the continent
  • The geographical proximity between the two was an important factor for building up relations during the ancient and the colonial period

Ancient Period

  • During the ancient period, the Indian merchants were in the constant look out beyond the Arabian Sea towards the west for lucrative markets. Slowly, the increasing people-to-people contacts made them a part of Indian Ocean circuit of trade’
  • They sailed regularly to the Zenj coast (Zanzibar) for palm oil, gold, copper, spices, ivory, rhino horn etc.
  • They sold cloth, metal implements, foodstuff like wheat, rice and jaggery, besides porcelain and glassware
  • Trade developed through the knowledge of favourable sea winds and the development of a suitable marine technology
  • Periplus of Erythrean Sea, a first century AD merchants’ sailor guide throws light on the thriving trade between India and the Western Indian Ocean region
  • It also stated that India’s trading contacts were spread from Egypt to coastal to northern Somalia, ancient land of Punt, kingdom of Kush (Sudan) and Axum

 

Islamic Era 

  • Indian presence in Africa is also seen during the Islamic age. The Venetian traveller Marco Polo mentioned explicitly about the Gujarati and Saurashtrian merchants on Africa’s east coast
  • The use of Indian system of weights and measures and Cowries as currency, pointed to the fact that Indians were playing a key role in this area
  • Not only economic benefits, the trade also contributed to the development of internal links in the African continent even before the advent of Europeans
  • By seventeenth century, the nature of Indian Ocean trade underwent a radical change due to demand for captives who could be sold as slaves.

During the medieval time the Africans came to India and were part of the muslim rule in India

  • A good example could be of ‘Malik Amber’ and the ‘Siddis’ who are still a part of the Indian population and are settled in parts of Gujarat, Karnataka and Hyderabad

 

Advent of Colonialism

  • With the advent of European colonial powers in India and Africa, the trade pattern underwent a significant change as Indo–African relations entered a new era of ‘colonialism’
  • During the colonialism period, trade continued and also started the slave trade
  • The Indians who went to Africa as slaves and post abolition of slavery, as the indentured labourers, and the merchant class of Gujarat slowly settled down there
  • India’s link with the African continent dates back to the anti-apartheid struggle of Mahatma Gandhi with the colonial rulers in South Africa
  • India has been aggressively putting forward the issue of apartheid on multilateral forums such as UN, NAM And Commonwealth

Post-Colonial Period

The foundations were laid by Mahatma Gandhi. According to him, there will be a “commerce of ideas and services and not of raw materials and goods like imperialist powers”. The present government continues to take this approach as the foundation of India’s Africa Policy. According to Vice President Hamid Ansari, “ India shares Africa’s dreams and India Africa cooperation is genuine 2 way street partnership

Relations uptill 1960:

Nehru talked about Afro Asian solidarity. African countries provided strength to Nehru’s NAM. The policy in this phase is described as “ideational” and “pragmatic”

2nd phase (1970s – 1990s):

There was neglect of Africa because of India’s attention on South Asia and India’s attention on inward looking foreign policy. Though India in this phase continued to support Africa against Apartheid.

3rd phase (1990s onwards):

This is the phase of reengagement with Africa. However the lead was taken by private sector, rather than government. Private sector of India should be given credit to push attention of GoI towards the region of strategic and economic importance.

Present status of relations:

Since 2008, India and Africa relations have been institutionalized. India has started engagement with African Union (Pan African Platform). So far 3 summits have been organized under the aegis of India Africa Forum Summit. It is to be noted that the approach of GoI is also influenced by China. China has also initiated the Forum for Africa and China cooperation in the year 2000.

Importance of Africa:

Geostrategic

  • Africa is critical to India’s security, especially the Horn of Africa region, because of its proximity with India. The threat of radicalism, piracy, organized crime emerge from this region

Economic

  • Africa can help us in diversifying our energy sources, which is one of the stated objective of our Integrated Energy Policy
  • Africa also contains rich reservoir of valuable minerals, metals including gold and diamond
  • Africa provides a space for Indian investment
  • Africa has ample agricultural land which cab address India’s food security. India is looking at leasing land in Africa to overcome the land deficit that we face in terms of arable land

Geopolitical

  • Support of African countries is important for India’s aim of gaining a permanent seat in UNSC
  • Africa provides a space for displaying both India’s soft and hard power
  • India has been actively involved in peace and stability of African countries through UN Peace keeping operations. India is involved in capacity building of African countries. Africa is also the largest beneficiary of India’s ITEC programme

History of India Africa Relations: India Africa Relations

Strategies adopted by Indian government:

  • Pan African level engagement
  • Partnership with regional organization
  • Development partnership through IBSA and BRICS
  • Bilateral engagement with countries
  • Involving Indian communities and Indian Diaspora

Whether India’s relationship with Africa should be seen through Chinese prism?

  • While China has been in Africa’s infrastructure, mining, oil and natural gas sectors for many years, India, despite moving late, has worked through training, education and capacity-building programmes — which have been very well-received by the countries.
  • China is developing series of important ports in Africa on the western and eastern coast right uptill Mediterranean and building rail linkages to connect to those ports
  • Over the last 15 years, India-Africa trade has gone up 20 times, and reached, according to the government, $ 70 billion.
  • Indian investment in Africa is between $ 30 billion and $ 35 billion.
  • India has given concessional credit to the tune of $ 7.4 billion, of which $ 5 billon has been disbursed. The credit lines have helped create 137 projects in 41 countries.
  • A Pan-African e-Network for education and health is functional in 48 countries.
  • Since 2008, India has extended 40,000 scholarships to African countries under ITEC programme

Thus it would be wrong to conclude that India’s African outreach is with a view to counter China’s expanding influencing in the region.

Moreover Chinese strategy of exporting Chinese labour as part of its push to create excess capacity abroad to counter unemployment in China is rattling the African population. There have been protests against the discriminatory employment practices of China in matters of employment in Nigeria, Kenya etc.

Challenges India faces from the presence of countries like U.S in Africa

  • S trade with Africa initially was high because of its strategy to reduce dependence of middle East oil and hence they went for greater purchase from Africa. With shale revolution in USA, trade volume has declined.
  • USA still involved in infrastructural development, export of commodities (food stuff, refined products), export of equipments, projects for Mineral exploration. All these fields are also what India is interested in. Same is the case with china
  • USA along with China has also been offering soft loans which are being lapped up by capital starved African nations

Shortcomings of U.S (and other developed countries) involvement

  • S products are too costly for African customers compared to Indian and Chinese products
  • Export of raw materials to USA unlikely to grow a lot because of relative stagnation of GDP growth rate of U.S economy compared to India and china
  • USA’s involvement in building transport infra etc can lead to increased sale of Indian cars etc which are cheaper
  • Development of African primary industries by these countries can lead to increased exports to India

Shortcomings of India’s involvement in Africa

  • In terms of cheque book diplomacy, India can not compete with China or U.S. Some of the African countries, even the richer ones like Nigeria, expect India to bear gifts for them under IAFS. However India asserts for joint endeavour for better development
  • India abrogates its responsibility in terms of mid stream and down stream delivery processes, instead relying on multilateral agencies like African Union. This leads to India losing credit for a project despite the financial, technological backing it gives
  • India contributed a lot more than other countries in terms of ebola relief but did not highlight it. Indian assistance was largely through multilateral forums and in a piecemeal manner

Impact of IAFS process so far:

  • India has committed unprecedented level of resources to Africa (in soft loans and grants). $5bn in soft loans, half a billion dollars in grants, institution building and training fellowship to Africa
  • Earlier in IAFS 1 India had offered DFQF (Duty Free Quota Free) access to LDCs of Africa
  • Increased people to people contact as observed in the increasing flow of medical tourists, students, trainees and Indian entrepreneurs and experts.
  • IAFS process has also given a boost to cultural and information contact and mutual awareness
  • Growth in India’s trade and investment activities has partially slowed down due to the effects of recession.

SWOT analysis

Strength

  • Indian diaspora in Africa to be leveraged for involvement in building social infra
  • Similar socio economic challenges and historical linkages
  • Indian developmental model more in line with Africa’s needs
  • Private sector involvement in Africa. India’s private sector is involved in 2x more Greenfield projects as compared to Chinese counterparts. Another advantage that India has, in any projects it employs local people thereby generating employment, earning goodwill. China exports Chinese labour.

Weakness

  • Multiple competing interests present. China and USA are the top 2 trading partners
  • Chequebook diplomacy can not be done by India
  • Lack of emphasis on bilateral relationships instead engaging mostly through forums like IAFS

Opportunities

  • Shift from line of credit approach to private sector involvement which would help in providing loans at cheaper interest rate, risk mitigation
  • Better organized, more coherent and faster responding mechanism accompanied by an appropriate media campaign required for highlighting India’s contribution

Threats

  • Bureaucratic hurdle in trade expansion as we interact largely with African Union. We have focus on nations individually to take projects forward
  • No efforts by India to curb racial discrimination. Several reports in the past have highlighted that the propensity if Indians to discriminate on grounds of race is quiet high. China has undertaken educational projects to bury the African stereotype

A Brief Analysis of the Third India-Africa Forum Summit

‘New Hopes, New Horizons’

The Third India-Africa Forum Summit held recently unveiled a “dynamic and transformative agenda”. This agenda is of mutual empowerment and mutual resurgence between India and the African nations to strengthen the bond even more in the future.

This was the third summit, which was started in 2008, since when two summits had taken place.

However, this is the first time that 54 heads of the states out of a total of 54 in the African continent came to India together for one cause.

There were commemorative coins that were released to mark the event. They were as shown below:

9

 

                                                                            Source: MEA

Development Partnership

The ‘Delhi Declaration’ of 2015 envisages the India-Africa partnership in development. On the same lines, India would be providing a credit of $10 billion to Africa for development projects along with a grant assistance of $600 million.

This grant includes development fund, health fund and scholarship for students in India. The Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation(ITEC) programme has already laid base for knowledge sharing and has acted as a bridge to connect students from both the sides.

10

The Delhi Declaration is in sync with the ‘Africa’s Vision 2063’ which also focusses on growth, stability and prosperity.

Arc of Prosperity

India-Africa Business Forum was also held as an important segment of the summit. It is noteworthy that the India-Africa trade has exceeded $70 billion!

Along with economic development through public private partnerships, institution building, infrastructure development and development of small and medium enterprises, the focus will also be on poverty alleviation, healthcare, education and sustainable development.

Blue Economy

An agenda was brought out in the summit or the development of blue economy or ocean economy which is aimed at development of marine resources sustainably for the growth and development of countries like India, on the African coast and other littoral states with coastlines.

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Commemorative stamps were also issued during the summit:

12

Source: MEA

Strategic Partnership

India called for partnership with Africa in raising voice for the reform of international institutions such as the United Nations and its security council.

It also stressed for collective action for climate change with the mantra of ‘clean and green’. It includes the invitation given by India to all the African countries to be a part of the Indian initiative and join the ‘Solar Club’ for a partnership in areas of clean energy, sustainable habitats, public transport and climate resilient agriculture.

13

Partners in Peace

India is a major partner in the UN Peacekeeping missions in the African continent. The major peacekeeping missions in Africa in which India is involved are:

  1. Democratic Republic of Congo
  2. South Sudan
  3. Ivory Coast
  4. Liberia

Till date, India has deployed about 4,500 soldiers on the ground. This includes the only fully formed Indian female police unit in Liberia.

Cultural Bonding

15

 

Opportunities for India

Apart from the immense opportunities as can be comprehended from the above analysis of  the third India-Africa Forum Summit, some of the rest can be listed as below:

  • India has the opportunity to benefit from Africa’s rich resources such as coal, oil, and natural gas reserves whereas Africa would gain from India’s world-class downstream capabilities
  • Indian banks to expand their footprint on the continent for developing Africa’s financial market
  • The huge market can serve as an alternative to ours
  • The hydrocarbon from Africa is a source of clean, energy efficient fuel which is of immense importance given India’s ambitious goals for energy production and security

The importance of the ties between India and Africa was realized by our forefathers too for the development of both the land and the people.

The great leader of the world in General and Africa in particular ‘Nelson Mandela’ once remarked:

16

Taking ahead the culture of civilization tying it with our ancient past, it can be very rightly concluded by Mahatma Gandhi’s views:

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Prime Minister’s African nation visit includes MozambiqueSouth AfricaTanzania and Kenya. The visit of Prime Minister comes close on the heels of the high level visit earlier by President Pranab Mukherjee and Vice President Hamid Ansari.

kenya-tanzania

Earlier visit of Vice president to Morocco and Tunisia covered North Africa. Later President’s visit to Ghana, Namibia and Ivory Coast covered West Africa. Now the Prime Minister’s visit covers South and East Africa. Through this our three topmost leaders have covered the whole of Africa .

It is projected that by 2020 the collective GDP of all African nations will be $2.6 trillion.

Strategic significance of Prime Minister’s visit

  • The Prime Minister’s focus of the African tour is on deepening cooperation in areas of hydrocarbonsmaritime securitytrade and investmentagriculture and food. Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya are very important and all are littoral states. They had very close connection with India.
  • India-Kenya ties have stood the test of time. Both our nations have had very strong people-to-people ties and both nations have successfully fought colonialism in the previous century.
  • Mozambique was a Portuguese colony earlier. Till 1750 the country was managed from Goa. There are large numbers of Goans in Mozambique.
  • Prime Minister addressed the Indian Diaspora at Nairobi. Terrorism and Global Warming are the two major global challenges faced by all the nations. No country is immune to the state of terrorism. Concerted action is required by the global community through UN frame work.
  • India and Tanzania have agreed to deepen overall defense and security partnership, especially in the maritime domain.

India’s strengths

  • India had age old cultural, historic and civilization ties with Africa and around 16th century India’s indentured labor had come here and now they have all prospered and helped in the progress of these countries.
  • India and Africa are neighbors which are connected by Indian OceanMaritime securitycounter terrorism operation, utilization of the Blue Economy is the important element between India and Africa.
  • There are opportunities for Indian private companies and Public sector entities to invest in Africa. India is interested in securing energy needs, renewable and non conventional sources of energy where Africa is rich in all these resources.
  • Energy security is a significant element of our partnership with Africa. 25% of India’s total investment in Africa is in Mozambique that is $8 billion. Around 10% of total investment is in Tanzania that is $3 billion. These investments are in the field of Energy.
  • India will grow and India will need Energy. Large numbers of countries of Africa are members of International Solar Alliance. Prime Minister also met ‘Solar Mamas’, a group of rural women solar engineers from Africa who have been trained under Government of India-supported programme to fabricate, install, use, repair and maintain solar lanterns and household solar lighting systems in their villages

Difference in India and China approach in Africa

  • India is different from other large investors in Africa. China is considered to be exploitative in terms of exploitation of Natural resources and there is not much benefit to the local people of Africa.
  • China has acquired land for agriculture which has got its own work force and this has not benefited Africa.
  • India wants African nation to get equal benefits from India’s economic development in Africa. India wants a win-win situation for both the countries.
  • There are concerns that India has been very slow on delivery. It makes promises and commitments, but it doesn’t have the wherewithal. There was a tangential comparison with china where china was able to deliver. India in the last 2 years has demonstrated through certain projects that now India will deliver on its promises.
  • India is interested in improving the living standards of the common people. Whether it is energy, renewable energy, agriculture, food processing etc. The strength India has in terms of Human Resource Development, capacity building, education, health care and large numbers of African students are in India.
  • $92 million line of credit that has been agreed to is for water distribution and purification systems. India has long term agreement with Mozambique for the purchase of pulses.

Any doubts?


  1. Vamshi Chaithanya

    Please discuss

  2. Surabhi Mishra

    But i still find Indian contribution in Africa still meagre in comparison other nations. though we have long lost presence in africa. Initial infrastructure were actually built by indians(sent as labours to africa by britishers) in many countries of african subcontinent. we still have to harness this bond. India can do well in this we have potential but now i think somewhat kinetic energy is needed to push it farther.

  3. SHAMIL ABDULRAHIM

    Superb one

  4. Krupa Bhandari

    Very well Summarized!!

  5. Pratyush Kumar

    Pliss,,CD! Do Something For Hindi Medium Students too . We really Need These Stuffs in Our Medium Language 🙂

  6. Dr. Preethi Sundar

    India can also enhance its partnership by granting educational scholarship, by providing them internship in reputed univ of our country, improve sports in their nation, we can help them tap their human resources by providing skill training

    1. SHAMIL ABDULRAHIM

      Hello… frnd.. thats the thing..they already told..to improve the bilateral relationship with africa.. which includes everything like support and aid on educatn, sports etc… 🙂 dont take it bad.. ok?

    2. Arun Muradnar

      Indeed, Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) offers 900 scholarships around 54 countries of Africa, to enhance the academic opportunities for students of African countries in India.
      Also, Pan-African e-Network project, which is biggest project of distance education and tele-medicine ever undertaken in Africa.
      This Project is equipped to support e-governance, e-commerce, infotainment, resource mapping and meteorological and other services in the African countries.
      So far, this project has successfully tapped tele-medicine and tele-education fields.

      Link : http://www.panafricanenetwork.com

3rd edition of UNPCAP underway in Delhi

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the UNPCAP

Mains level: Aim of the UNPCAP. (The Chinese influence in the African continent is a cause of concern for not only India but also for the US. These efforts will help us in countering the Chinese influence)


News

The third edition of the United Nations Peacekeeping Course for African Partners (UNPCAP)

  1. It was recently inaugurated in New Delhi
  2. The UNPCAP sessions will be held from May 7-25

Aim of the UNPCAP

  1. The course is aimed to build and enhance the capacity of the African Troop Contributing Countries to the UN and to further train the trainers from these countries
  2. The training incorporates topics on operational and logistical matters, humanitarian issues, thematic topics and table top exercises, and mission briefs

India’s contribution

  1. The course revolves around the concept of training the trainers(as stated by the UN) is one of the many steps that India has initiated towards active contribution to peace support activities

Background

  1. The course is conducted by the Centre for United Nations Peacekeeping in India (CUNPK) in partnership with the US, the Indian Army
  2. The first and second editions of the course were held in New Delhi in 2016 and 2017, respectively

[op-ed snap] Continental ambition: The African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA)

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the ACFTA

Mains level: Importance of the ACFTA for the African Continent.
(Also, China’s presence as a major investor in Africa’s giant energy and transport projects cannot be ignored. It is important for India to closely watch politics of the African Continent.)


News

Importance of the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA)

  1. The ACFTA is a potential game changer for the world’s poorest region
  2. The pact seeks to create a single market in goods and services, free movement of persons and investment, and eventually a customs union with a common external tariff
  3. It was recently signed by 44 of the 55-member African Union (AU) in March

The ACFTA is crucial for Inter-African trade: Opportunities for the African Continent

  1. The exports within Africa accounted for a mere 18% of the continent’s total exports in 2016, compared to 59% and 69% of intra-regional exports in Asia and Europe, respectively
  2. With a number of African countries ranking among the world’s fastest-growing economies over the last two decades, the ACFTA could tap into the immense potential for closer trade integration
  3. Moody’s also points out that exports in manufactured goods within the continent are more than double the exports to countries outside it
  4. These findings increase expectations that a continent-wide single market would enable Africa’s transformation from an exporter of commodities and raw materials to a supplier of finished manufactured goods

One of the main aims of the ACFTA

  1. The ACFTA aims to abolish import duties on 90% of goods(currently averaging at 6%) which is projected to raise internal trade by over 50%
  2. That would double if non-tariff barriers are scrapped, says the UN Economic Commission for Africa
    Caution
  3. The UN Conference on Trade and Development is cautious about the effects from initial loss of tariff revenues and uneven costs and benefits during the transition

Another important requirement

  1. Deeper regional integration requires not only the dismantling of border tariffs, but also the elimination of non-tariff barriers such as poor infrastructure

Lack of the US engagement

  1. There has been a corresponding lack of U.S. engagement in the continent whose threat to reduce global aid could hit the region the most

The way forward

  1. African leaders have been highly successful in leveraging their influence in the global strategic and economic arenas
  2. But they could strive harder to uphold democratic rights and constitutional principles at home. That is critical to promote sustainable development

Back2basics

African Continental Free Trade Area

  1. The African Continental Free Trade Area is the result of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement among all 55 members of the African Union
  2. If ratified, the agreement would result in the largest free-trade area in terms of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organization
  3. African heads of state gathered in Kigali, Rwanda in March 2018 to sign the proposed agreement
  4. Forty-four of the 55 members of the African Union signed it on 21 March 2018
  5. The Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) is a continent-wide free-trade agreement brokered by the African Union (AU) and initially signed on by 44 of its 55 member states in Kigali, Rwanda on March 21, 2018
  6. The agreement initially requires members to remove tariffs from 90% of goods, allowing free access to commodities, goods, and services across the continent
  7. The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa estimates that the agreement will boost intra-African trade by 52 percent by 2022
  8. The proposal will come into force after ratification by 22 of the signatory states

Planned Indian military base stirs Seychelles controversy

Image source

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India &/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Assumption Island, Mozambique Channel

Mains level: India’s counter arrangements to China’s string of pearls


News

India’s plan to build a military base in Seychelles

  1. The military base is likely to come up on Assumption Island is to be funded by India and shared by the two countries’ militaries
  2. The deal to build a military base was struck in principle in 2015 during PM Modi’s visit to Seychelles

Importance of establishing a military base

  1. The location lends India a strategic importance for monitoring shipping in the Mozambique Channel
  2. Base will also help India ensure the safety of its vessels in the southern Indian Ocean
  3. The military base will help coastguards to patrol its 1.3 million square kilometers exclusive economic zone for illegal fishing, drug trafficking, and piracy

India-Seychelles military cooperation

  1. India has had a military cooperation agreement with Seychelles since 2003
  2. The present agreement would give India rights of use of the Assumption base for up to 30 years
  3. Indian soldiers would be deployed on the island and help train Seychelles’ troops

[pib] Revised Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) between India and Kenya notified

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement

Mains level: India’s relationship with African countries


News

  • The Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) between India and Kenya was signed and notified in 1985
  • Subsequently, the DTAA was renegotiated and a revised DTAA was signed between both countries on 11th July 2016
  • The revised DTAA has been notified in the Official Gazette on 19th February 2018

Key features of the revised DTAA

  • In order to promote cross-border flow of investments and technology, the revised DTAA provides for reduction in withholding tax rates from 15% to 10% on dividends, from 15% to 10% on interest, from 20% to 10% on royalties and from 17.5% to 10% on fees for management, professional and technical services.
  • The revised DTAA provides for a new Article on Limitation of Benefits to allow treaty benefits to bonafide residents of both countries, to combat treaty abuse by third country residents and to allow application of domestic law to prevent tax avoidance or evasion.
  • The Article on Exchange of Information has been updated to the latest international standard to provide for the exchange of information, including banking information for tax purposes, to the widest possible extent.
  • A new Article on Assistance in Collection of Taxes has also been provided in the revised treaty which will enable assistance in collection of tax revenue claims between both countries.

Benefits from DTAA

  •  Improve transparency in tax matters, help curb tax evasion and tax avoidance, remove double taxation and will stimulate the flow of investment, technology, and services between India and Kenya

[op-ed snap] Raja Mandala: India and Djibouti’s geopolitical scrum

Image Source

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Geographical location of the ‘Horn of Africa’ region

Mains level: Indo-African relations has very important for Indian economic activities in the region. Also, the Chinese influence in the region is also one of the main factor.


News

Context

  1. The article talks about the recent visit of President to the ‘Horn of Africa’ region and diplomatic issues related to it.

Horn of Africa

  1. The four different states constituting the Horn Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti along with Yemen across the Red Sea have long been described as one of the world’s pivotal regions

Why is this region in news?

  1. Due to President Ram Nath Kovind’s recent visit to Djibouti and Ethiopia
  2. It is President’s first visit abroad
  3. The visit suggests India is finally giving importance to the extraordinary geopolitical significance of the region
  4. Kovind is India’s first president or prime minister to visit Djibouti

Particulars of the Djibouti

  1. Its population is less than a million and its land is largely barren
  2. Djibouti’s location at the confluence of the Red Sea with the Indian Ocean and the crossroads connecting Africa, the Middle East and Asia
  3. The geographical position made it a very attractive piece of geopolitical real estate

India’s Diplomatic relations with Djibouti

  1. India does not have an embassy in Djibouti
  2. The president’s visit suggests Delhi is now ready to end its prolonged neglect of Djibouti and re-engage the region strategically
  3. Like in so many areas, China’s strategic advances in the Horn have helped put Djibouti back on India’s political radar

How was India’s relations with the African countries started improving?

  1. Things began to change in the 1990s as Delhi turned to economic globalisation
  2. Growing commerce resulted in intensifying India’s focus on Africa as a major economic partner
  3. India had declared that its national interests were no longer limited to the Subcontinent but stretched from the “Aden to Malacca”
  4. Also, at the Africa summit in India during 2015, most participating leaders wanted an expansion of security and defence cooperation with India

China’s influence in the region

  1. China’s infrastructure development in the Horn preceded the launch of the Belt and Road Initiative
  2. One of the biggest infrastructure projects in the region has been the 750 km-long rail link between landlocked Ethiopia and Djibouti
  3. Military influence: China has secured the rights to a base in Djibouti that can host up to 10,000 soldiers until 2026
  4. This is the first ever foreign military base for China

The way forward

  1. Many regional powers are now trying to shape the strategic landscape of the Horn through military bases and armed interventions
  2. India is somewhat late in joining the scramble for political influence in this critical corner of the Indian Ocean
  3. The President’s visit will hopefully lay the foundations for a comprehensive engagement with Djibouti and the Horn of Africa

Ocean forecasting system unveiled

Image Source

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: The article shows the good foreign policy initiatives by India.


News

Inauguration of the Ocean Forecasting System

  1. The Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) of the Ministry of Earth Sciences has inaugurated the Ocean Forecasting System for Comoros, Madagascar, and Mozambique 
  2. It was done at the third Ministerial Meeting of Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System for Asia and Africa (RIMES)
  3. The meeting was held at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
  4. The Ministerial council and the WMO lauded and placed on record the initiatives of INCOIS/India in providing the ocean forecast and early warning services to the Indian Ocean countries

Who will get benefited from it?

  1. The ocean forecast and early warming information on high wave, currents, winds, tides, sub-surface ocean conditions cater to users like
    (1) fishermen,
    (2) coastal population,
    (3) tourism sector,
    (4) coastal defence officials,
    (5) marine police,
    (7) port authorities,
    (8) research institutions and offshore industries of these countries
  2. The system would offer oil spill advisory services, high wave alerts, port warnings, forecast along the ship routes in addition to tsunami and storm surge warnings and help in search and rescue operations

Hungary, Algeria back fight against terror: Ansari

  1. Source: Vice-President Hamid Ansari
  2. Event: End of five-day-long visit to Hungary and Algeria
  3. Hungary and Algeria have both unequivocally added their voices to the international outcry against terrorism in the current Indian context
  4. Positive outcome: An improved equation with the African continent’s largest nation, i.e. Algeria
  5. Algeria, has an overwhelmingly Muslim population, and the visit could be a positive development diplomatically and otherwise for India

Ansari-led team has a busy agenda in Algeria

  1. Event: Vice-President Hamid Ansari’s visit to Algeria
  2. Both countries agreed on the need to give a renewed impetus to the bilateral engagement and the dialogue process
  3. Given Algeria’s substantial oil and gas and also phosphate deposits, India expects to work with the country to add significant fertilizer capacity
  4. Algeria is the largest country in Africa in terms of area
  5. More than four-fifths of the land area of Algeria is covered by the Sahara Desert
  6. Oil and gas were discovered in 1950

Operation Sankat Mochan

  1. News: In order to evacuate Indians stranded in Juba (South Sudan), the Indian government sent two aircraft under Operation Sankat Mochan
  2. However, nearly half of the Indian nationals in Juba declined the offer to be evacuated citing the ceasefire which has brought a welcome break after a week of intense fighting
  3. Context: One of Africa’s oldest civil wars was reignited in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, between the heavily armed rival factions divided on ethnic lines
  4. Operation Sankat Mochan was the first big evacuation effort in a year after Operation Raahat evacuated hundreds of citizens of India and other countries from Yemen in 2015

India, Kenya to deepen security ties

  1. News: India and Kenya decided to deepen and expand cooperation in a wide range of areas as they signed 7 pacts, including defence and security and avoidance of double taxation
  2. LoC: India also announced extension of a concessional Line of Credit of US$ 45 million to Kenya to help it in development of small and medium enterprises and textiles
  3. Health: India will also build a cancer hospital in Kenya to provide quality and affordable healthcare
  4. Defence: MoU on Defence Cooperation signed will entail staff exchanges, expertise sharing, training, cooperation in hydrography and equipment supply
  5. India is Kenya’s largest trading partner, and the second largest investor in Kenya

South Sudan civil war- 300 Indians stranded in Juba

  1. At least 300 Indians have been left stranded as one of Africa’s oldest civil wars reignited in Juba, the capital of South Sudan
  2. The civil war is between the heavily armed rival factions divided on ethnic lines
  3. Law and order has broken down
  4. Even the UN peacekeeping contingent was busy defending its bases
  5. Though there are 2,500 Indian soldiers in the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) they are unable to help

India-Tanzania: Solar Mamas

  1. News: Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted with ‘Solar Mamas’ while on his visit to Tanzania
  2. Solar Mamas: A group of nearly 30 rural women solar engineers from 6 African countries
  3. Training: Trained to fabricate, install, use, repair and maintain solar lanterns and household solar lighting systems in their villages
  4. They have been trained under India’s developmental support for harnessing solar energy
  5. Trained at either Barefoot college in Rajasthan or at the vocational training college in Tanzania

India inks 5 agreements with Tanzania

  1. News: India extended its full support to the resource-rich Tanzania to meet its development needs and signed 5 agreements
  2. Key agreement: India would provide a Line of Credit of US$ 92 million for rehabilitation and improvement of Zanzibar’s water supply system
  3. The 2 countries agreed to deepen overall defence and security partnership, especially in the maritime domain
  4. Combating the twin threats of terrorism and climate change was also on the agenda

India-South Africa deepening co-operation

  1. News: India and South Africa agreed to deepen engagement in key areas of defence production, manufacturing, mining and minerals
  2. Also vowed to cooperate actively in combating terrorism
  3. Discussions on multilateral fronts such as UN Security Council reform, BRICS summit, IBSA, IORA conferences were held
  4. India was projected as an attractive destination for manufacturing of defence equipment and platforms to South Africa, a major global player in defence production
  5. South Africa’s support to India’s membership bid to the Nuclear Suppliers Group was also thanked

India-Mozambique II

  1. Security: India will also help build capacities of Mozambique’s security forces
  2. Defence: Pact signed to boost security and defence ties between the 2 nations connected by the Indian Ocean, recognising terrorism is the “gravest threat” to the world
  3. Both nations to step up security and defence cooperation to counter emerging security challenges, including in the maritime areas
  4. Economy: Mozambique is the “gateway” to Africa and one-fourth of India’s investment in Africa is in Mozambique
  5. Guide presented on the Indian business persons who intend to invest in Mozambique

India-Mozambique I

  1. News: A range of pacts were signed between India and Mozambique during Modi’s visit
  2. Agriculture, healthcare, energy security, security, defence and skill development were some of the areas identified with potential for cooperation
  3. Pulses: A significant “long-term” agreement signed to import pulses from Mozambique to plug India’s shortfall and contain prices domestically
  4. Health: Essential medicines, including those for AIDS, would be donated to Mozambique to strengthen its public health system

Modi to go on a 4-nation Africa tour

  1. In a bid to strengthen India-Africa ties, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit 4 African nations between July 7 and 11
  2. This would be his first visit to the African mainland
  3. Previous visits to Africa has been to Seychelles and Mauritius
  4. Countries planned on this visit are Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya

Exim bank has a greater say now

  1. The change in approach of Exim bank follows the government giving a greater say to Exim Bank in identifying India’s best interests while it promotes economic diplomacy
  2. As part of the new strategy, it is also important to encourage more Indians to move to Africa on short-term projects in services sectors
  3. Exim Bank has been extending credit to Africa through concessional Lines of Credit, Buyer’s Credit (meant to finance imports of overseas buyers, in this case African buyers, from India) etc.

Exim Bank’s African credit to boost services exports

  1. Context: Exim Bank of India is looking to disburse $10 billion to Africa in the next three years
  2. It wants the credit which has a mix of concessional and commercial rates to be used for boosting India’s services exports to Africa
  3. Shift: (in Exim Bank’s credit disbursal strategy to Africa) From mainly to help build infrastructure and industrial projects to help boost services exports
  4. Why? Infrastructure building is something that China has been doing in Africa & with its huge financial resources, China probably has greater capacity to do it than India
  5. India’s strength is in services, especially in sectors such as healthcare, information technology, education and even agriculture-related services & it needs to be actualised

India eyes uranium from Africa

  1. India might ask African countries to relax commitment to the Pelindaba Treaty
  2. India would try to convince Namibia to implement a bilateral treaty with India and supply uranium to Indian nuclear energy projects
  3. Namibia: India and Namibia signed two MoUs on Cooperation in the field of geology and mineral resources and Cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy in 2009
  4. However, Namibia’s membership of the Pelindaba Treaty has prevented it from ratifying the agreements
  5. Namibia is the fourth largest producer of uranium

Tourism in Seychelles relations

  1. Economy of Seychelles is heavily dependent on tourism & India is an important source of tourism for it
  2. Last year, about 8,000 Indians travelled to Seychelles to spend holidays
  3. Indians can travel visa-free to Seychelles & the connectivity is also good
  4. The direct share of tourism in the economy 27 per cent, which goes up to 62 per cent if the indirect contribution is factored in

We’re working with India to ensure security in Indian Ocean: Seychelles

  1. Seychelles: India and Seychelles have very close relations and both counties are working together to ensure safety and security in the Indian Ocean
  2. Naval base: Work will start this year in the Assumption Island to jointly develop a naval base by India and Seychelles
  3. Seychelles has allocated a plot on the Assumption Island for the base, which will help enhance maritime security along India’s west and south coast
  4. This initiative has come following China’s announcement that it would build its first African naval base in Djibouti

African countries and their engagements in Indian states

  1. Mali is one of the top cotton producers of the world and so is India
  2. Focus: Tamil Nadu- which is one of the most important centres of textile industry in India & Mali will send a delegation to India in July to firm up ties in the textile sector
  3. Mali would also focus on Goa’s tourism sector and use its best practices to contribute to Mali’s famed tourist hotspot of Timbuktu
  4. The State-focus was visible also during the latest visit of Vice-President Hamid Ansari to Tunisia and Morocco which have emerged as crucial sources for phosphate for India
  5. Phosphate is the main item that Tunisia is selling to India and its trade has drawn Tunisia towards Gujarat due to the State’s history of being business-friendly and the Gujarat State Fertilizer and Chemicals Ltd which is a major partner of Tunisia

Africa reaches out to Indian States

  1. Context: Govt is trying to step up its Africa outreach by involving the States in a major boost to its ties with Africa
  2. Countries like Mali and Tunisia have added to Africa’s ties with India’s States by coming up with plans for engaging the States
  3. Earlier: The promotion of States in foreign affairs had begun with the opening of the Centre-States division in the Ministry of External Affairs two years ago
  4. South Africa was the first from Africa to begin State-centric approach by forging ties with Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra
  5. However, time has come for other African states also to look beyond the big cities of India
  6. Areas: Education, IT, tourism, manufacturing businesses, cotton textiles etc.

India’s ties with African countries ‘good’: Hamid Ansari

  1. Context: Vice President Hamid Ansari’s visit to Morocco & Tunisia
  2. He described India’s ties with African countries as ‘good’
  3. Areas of engagement: IT, tele-medicine, agriculture
  4. Morocco: Substantive relationship due to one product- phosphate
    India has also invested in Morocco in this sector

India eyes more crude oil imports from African nations

India will host 22 African countries at the 4th India-Africa Hydrocarbon Conference.

  1. India’s domestic crude production plateaued at 37mt and is likely to remain at this level with little likelihood of future discoveries and technological breakthroughs.
  2. Meanwhile, the number of African nations that have struck oil or gas has increased from 7 in 1990 to 25 now.
  3. Africa is likely to be a significant source of meeting India’s hydrocarbon needs and this will help diversify source of crude from volatile West Asia.
  4. India is also a major exporter of refined petroleum products and Africa is the second largest destination for these products.
  5. India hopes to nurture the growth of African hydrocarbon sector by providing its expertise in oil exploration, refining, consultancy, training and infrastructure development.

PM offers $10 billion credit for infrastructure projects

  1. Mr. Modi announced credit at concessional rates of $10 billion over 5 years
  2. This is in addition to about $7.4 billion that India had already pledged since 2008.
  3. India will also offer a grant assistance of $600 million.
  4. India would give 50,000 scholarships to African students, as they will be new links between India and the African continent.

Expanding An Old Friendship

Indian interests in Africa will benefit from timely implementation of projects.

IndiaAfrica


  1. The third India-Africa Summit will be held at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium in New Delhi on October 29.
  2. India’s total commitment to African infrastructure has been $7.5 billion and this covers, inter alia, 137 projects in 41 countries.
  3. Particular attention has to be given to expanding the distance education and telemedicine programmes to convert them to a virtual university.
  4. The Indian private sector will have to show integrity and sensitivity to African concerns.
  5. The collapse of Libya in 2010 and the general unrest in north Africa has caused instability and arms, illicit drugs and terrorist groups emerged. Thus, terrorism is a major challenge for both.
  6. The security of the Indian Ocean is vital for African countries on the continent’s eastern shore as well as for island countries that are members of the African Union (AU).
  7. The time has come to develop defence ties through training programmes with the objective of enhancing naval capacities.
  8. The two pressing global issues are climate change and UN reform.

Doubtless, the summit will be a successful and grand diplomatic event. However, the pursuit of Indian interests in the continent will demand the timely implementation of its decisions.

 

Reversing the continental drift

The India-Africa Forum Summit process, that began in 2008, is a much needed intergovernmental attempt to give direction and thrust to bilateral synergies.

IAFS


  • In the economic domain, two sides only partially able to leverage their socio-economic similarities and complementarities (such as India’s growing need for Africa’s commodities and the suitability of Indian technology) .
  • At IAFS-1, India had offered duty-free market access to Africa’s least developed countries.
  • In IAFS-2, India promised $5 billion dollars in soft loans, half a billion dollars in grants, institution building and training fellowships to Africa.
  • The IAFS process has given a fillip to cultural and informational contacts and mutual awareness.
  • A welcome surge in people-to-people contacts as large numbers of African entrepreneurs, medical tourists, trainees and students have started coming to India.

Some contextual and challenging factors

  • First, India is not alone in region, our competitors on the continent, such the European Union, China, Japan and the U.S. also have IAFS-type processes and often commit even more resources than we do.
  • Second, in recent years, new drivers of the putative African century have emerged.
  • These include lower commodity prices, greater democracy, rise in militancy, population growth, preponderance of youth and urbanisation.

How can the momentum achieved so far by the IAFS process be sustained or even accelerated?

  • First, we need to inject greater bilateralism and balance into the process. Joint endeavour is more productive for both sides.
  • Second, the IAFS process needs to better leverage two strong assets, Vibrant Indian private sector and Indian diaspora in Africa.
  • Third, Need to improve the last mile of the delivery chain to ensure efficacy. e.g. Pan Africa e-Network project
  • Fourth, India needs to make more vigorous efforts to inform its African friends about its contributions.
  • As, Indian help in Ebola epidemic ravaged countries, received scant attention and publicity, partly because India delivered it multilaterally or in a piecemeal manner.
  • By having a dedicated, commercially-driven Indian television channel for African countries may be a good beginning.

The IAFS process has shown the promise of Indo-African partnership. Indeed, the current global economic stagnation only enhances the relevance of a mutual interface between the world’s fastest growing continent and the world’s fastest growing major economy.



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