Foreign Policy Watch: India-Africa

Explained: Why India-South Africa relations are unique

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: Red Fort Declaration

Mains level: India’s recent Africa focus and its strategic as well as economic importance


News

Background

  1. President Cyril Ramaphosa of the South Africa was the Chief Guest at the 70th Republic Day
  2. This is the second time a South African Head of State is Chief Guest for Republic Day — the first occasion was in 1995 with late Nelson Mandela.

India and South Africa

  1. India’s relations with South Africa go back centuries and have a powerful emotional component.
  2. It is here that Mahatma Gandhi began his political career, and over the decades of the 20th century, India stood solidly behind their struggle against apartheid.

Historical Significance

  1. India was the first country to sever trade relations with the apartheid government, and subsequently imposed a complete — diplomatic, commercial, cultural and sports — official ban on South Africa.
  2. India worked consistently to put the issue of apartheid on the agenda of the UN, NAM and other multilateral organizations and for the imposition of comprehensive international sanctions against South Africa.
  3. The African National Congress (ANC) maintained a representative office in New Delhi from the 1960s onwards.
  4. India actively worked for the AFRICA Fund to help sustain the struggle through support to the frontline states.
  5. In March 1997, during the visit of President Mandela to India, the two countries signed the historic Red Fort Declaration for Strategic Partnership between India and South Africa.

Red Fort Declaration

  1. South Africa achieved democracy in 1994, it was the Red Fort Declaration on Strategic Partnership between India and South Africa, signed in March 1997 by which set the parameters for a rekindled relationship.
  2. The 20th anniversary of signing of the declaration was commemorated by an India-South African cultural extravaganza at High Commission of India, Pretoria on April 9, 2017.
  3. This Strategic Partnership between the two countries was again re-affirmed in the Tshwane Declaration (October 2006).
  4. Both these declarations have been instrumental mechanisms that has contributed in the past to both South Africa and India for achieving their respective national objectives.

Growth in Bilateral Trade

  1. India’s has had fairly flourishing commercial relations with South Africa since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1993.
  2. However, despite bilateral trade having been “on the upswing”, having “crossed the $10-billion benchmark in 2017-18.

Way Forward

  1. The uniquely intertwined histories of India and South Africa have ensured that the bonds much deeper than we generally realize.
  2. The partnership is about a shared and prosperous future, which realizes the dreams of Madiba and Mahatma for our people.

For more comprehensive reading on India-South Africa Relations, must navigate to:

Observer Research Foundation

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