Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Relationship between India and Africa dates back to the time of Non Aligned movement, when President Josip Tito of Yugoslavia, President Gamel Nasser of Egypt, President Nkrumah of Ghana and Prime Minister Nehru had formed a partnership to promote the voice of countries of South. India’s involvement in Bandung Afro–Asian conference of 1955 further showed how India Africa partnership during that time was guided by ideological, political issues. Leadership guiding such a relationship wanted to take a stand against imperialism, colonialism and racism which were prevalent in countries of Africa. In 1950s, political and ideological principles drew these two countries towards an alliance. In the next two decades common developmental, economic challenges of India, Africa and a demand for a “New International Economic Order “  by  them became key drivers of such an alliance. Post 1990s, a new framework of partnership between India and Africa has been developed.
Since mid-1990s, South South Cooperation has become the mantra of India, Africa partnership. A key element of this partnership has been economic diplomacy pursued by India. India has been engaged with Africa at regional and bilateral levels. At a regional level, India has been an observer in regional organisations like SADC (Southern African Development Community), COMESA (Common Market for East and South Africa), ECOWAS (Economic Community for West African States).  Moreover, India has maintained bilateral engagement with various countries of Africa. Such a bilateral engagement with Africa has developed through merchandise trade, investment, aids, exchange of knowledge, human resources and skills. Some of the sectors in which this engagement has gradually grown are –natural resources, infrastructure, agriculture, energy, health and food.  
As a result of that, value of merchandise exports have grown at a larger rate than imports between India and Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt, Mauritius for items like transport equipment, machinery and instruments, pharmaceuticals, non-basmati rice, manufactured products, cotton-yarn fabrics, as well as primary and semi-finished iron and steel products.  India has also expanded her trade relationship with Ethiopia, Tanzania, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Ghana and 17 other countries of Africa through the Focus Africa Programme.  Outward foreign direct investments from India to Africa have increased by 32.5% between 1997 – 2008. Indian companies like ONGC have made equity oil investments in Ivory Coast, Libya, Egypt, Nigeria, São Tomé and Sudan. Exploration and production blocks have also been acquired in Madagascar, Nigeria. India has been dependent on Africa to secure access to oil resources. This is not only important for India’s energy security but also it can help her to reduce the dependence on Middle East and other parts of the world for crude oil. As a responsible partner of South South collaboration to strengthen the economic diplomacy, India has taken measures to expand line of credits and grants to build up joint projects by involving players from Africa and India in sectors like railways, information technology (IT), telecommunications to generate multipliers for the economies of Africa in the long run. Presence of Indian companies have grown in agriculture, secondary, tertiary  sectors through companies like Mahindra and Mahindra (which has provided tractors for agriculture sector in select countries of Africa),Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, Tata Consultancy Services.  Africa has also seen a spurt in the presence of major pharmaceutical companies (Ranbaxy, Cipla and Dr Reddy’s), consumer product firms (Emami and Marico), construction firms (Punj Lloyd and Shahpoorji Pallonji) from India.
However at the backdrop of this growing South South collaboration, since 2007, there has been a shift in the focus of the main instrument of South South Cooperation between India and Africa. The focus has shifted towards capacity building and enhancing measures in Africa by Indian institutions through exchange of knowledge, human resources and skills.  This deliberate shift of focus has been created to start a process to enhance the trust levels between the people of India and Africa by understanding each other to a larger extent. Thus as an outcome of this exchange, there is a hope of formation of a new harmonized cultural identity of Africa India relationship that started way back in 1950s. This move towards exchange of human resources can be realized in the policy of countries of Africa who have welcomed knowledge expertise of various sectors from India to create larger social welfare for their nation. Thus, one can see that joint efforts are being made by India through the Pan African E Network to reduce the poverty of African youth by means of removal of the digital divide. Pan African E Network has been integrated with education and health care centres where through better technology the youth of Africa is provided timely, vocational, education and proper healthcare to address their basic developmental needs.
Capacity development in science and technology through knowledge and human resource exchange is an imperative to form a unified, harmonized identity of South South collaboration between India and Africa. In this regard, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India has extended CV Raman fellowships to support the training of students of Africa in science and technology at institutes of India. India is also expanding number of scholarships for students from Africa in agriculture, science & technology under the framework of enhanced cooperation supported by Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India. India is supposed to be the lead country in the Life and Earth Science segment of the Pan African University and IARI is engaged in developing capacity of institutions of Africa in agricultural research.  Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation programme of Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India having 47 empanelled institutes of India like TERI, IIM (A), Administrative Staff College of India, RIS, ICISA, NIIT, APTECH and many others have facilitated such enhancement through knowledge exchanges between practitioners, mid-career professionals of Africa and India. These courses have created experience sharing between countries of Africa and India in the knowledge domain related to accounts, audit, banking, finance, telecommunication, english, management, rural development, specialized and technical fields, environment, renewable energy, sustainable development. Over the years, participation from Africa in these training programmes run by various Indian institutes and held in India has increased.  These training programmes are now needed to be organized in various countries of Africa to accelerate the existing knowledge and cultural exchange between India and Africa. Implementation of capacity enhancing training programmes in Africa on several issues pertaining to sustainable development which are of common interest for India and Africa can be a way forward in this regard.  This can be done through new capacity building institutions in Africa. India has already moved forward in this direction by proposing to build 21 new capacity enhancing institutions in various sectors of Africa.

Actions taken by India on South South collaboration with Africa after 2007 have shown that such an association is much beyond trade, investment, enhancement in the balance of payment of countries through cooperation. It is an exchange process in health, culture, sports that can define human development and a cultural identity. This has been evinced in the firm commitment shown by India towards research and development in medical services for rural areas through application of tele and e-health applications. It is also being manifested in the pledge of India against the usage of counterfeit medicines in Africa by promoting access to traditional medicines, practices for the rural population of Africa through larger research and development in such disciplines. Collaboration between India and Africa in the health sector for contributing towards Africa’s development  has been evinced in India’s support directed for knowledge, experience sharing in health care systems, community health programmes and accelerated reduction of maternal mortality in Africa.

Post 2007, South South Collaboration in sports between India and Africa has started happening through an agreement to develop sports policies, training of trainers programme for India and Africa. Initiatives in cultural activities have begun through mutual cultural tours between India and Africa supported by ICCR. Cultural dance troupes supported by ICCR have gone to Africa for performance. Similarly, musicians, dancers and performing artists from parts of Africa have come to India for performance. Indian film festivals have been organized in Africa and collaborative projects have started happening leading to mutual development of creative industries in India and Africa. This is relevant as Bollywood (world third biggest film industry) has many things to learn from the world’s second biggest film industry in Nigeria. Such learning will only happen when there are exchanges of creative thinking. Proof of such exchanges within the entertainment industry lies in the title credits of Bollywood director Vishal Bhardwaj’s film “Kaminey” that acknowledges a script writer Cajetan Boy from Kenya  for his script of the film “Kaminey”.  Reports from Bollywood suggests that the script was bought for $4000 from Cajetan who was mentored by Vishal Bhardwaj in a script writing workshop at Uganda. This story, essentially summarises the changing paradigm of South South collaboration between India and Africa. It is about giving equal recognition to the human skills, knowledge, talents and creation of a space for cultural exchange to create a harmonized identity for mutual benefit of the people of India and Africa through trust and bondage. Such a human connection, bondage, will therefore secure the future of alliance, partnership between India and Africa in the next decades and for future generation. 

South South Cooperation and Democracy, Development, Society: Some Generic Thoughts

Our time in the current years is already observing a shift in the dominance of nations towards countries of South like India and China.  South South Cooperation has achieved a new meaning in the context of this shift in the dominance  towards Southern Countries. Additionally, countries of Europe have been going through sovereign debt crisis. This has added to the woes of North North cooperation.
Growing protectionism in U.S driven by the financial crisis has acted as a barrier in determining a smooth transition to North South Cooperation. With this premise the importance of South South Cooperation has increased. This article would not however dwell on these dimensions of South South Cooperation. This short note would ratherexplore the theoretical generic question of whether cooperation of South South nature is driven by the state and nature of democratization of the two states that get involved in cooperation.
So the basic question that we explore in this note is – Does the nature, state of democratization of two states in a South South cooperation guarantee or ascertain the degree, extent and sustainability of cooperation?
In order to get an answer to this question we have to first search through the extensive literature on democratization. Dahl (1998) suggests that democratization as a subject has been widely researched. Geddes (1999) provides extensive literature for Latin America on nature of democracy. However Collier, Levitsky (1997), Geddes (1999), Kitschelt (1992), Remmer (1996) provides us with literature on how and why democracies sustain and how quality of a democracy determines that longevity. Literature validates that quality and longevity of democracy of a country to a large extent is being determined by the level of economic development.
Economic development has also a considerable effect on the sustainability of democracy (Przeworski & Limongi, 1997). Sustainability of democracy is ensured by higher levels of economic development along with other factors like degree of socioeconomic equality. So two countries which can be at the same levels of development can forge a larger beneficial spillovers from cooperation. South South Cooperation between countries at similar levels of development thus might work if we try to bridge this theory of democracy to nature of South South Cooperation.
Additionally, two countries can be at different levels of democratization levels but still cooperation can emerge with a vision of complementary partnership. In terms of South South Cooperation the level of democratisation in two partnering countries might not always be a key factor.
However the level of democratization and stable political environment in two countries can help in the forging of the cooperation measures. According to Fish (1998), Kopstein &Reilly (1999), economic reform is one of the best indicators of democratization. In this regard, one needs to see how various countries of South are performing in terms of sustainability, longevity of democracy.
Rich post socialist countries have performed better in terms of sustainability of democracy whereas countries like Albania, Kyrgyztan have been moving away.   Sustainability of democratization is guaranteed by economic growth and reforms that can reduce  the authoritarian structure of the ruling party. With higher economic growth often the accountability of people of the nation can increase with the implementation of necessary domestic reform measures. Public pressure for accountability of the government, larger civil society participation and increased levels of education are some of the outcomes that incur with the advent of economic reforms which leads to larger transparency and democratization on the path of increasing democratization. The moot question is whether occurrence of such conditions in two countries forging a South South Cooperation facilitate the chance and nature of longevity of the nature of cooperation.

Any cooperation measure which aims to promote development, can benefit the public at large by creating more transparent accountable structures that can sustain the degree of cooperation. The same principle will hold good for South South Cooperation measures. .
If there is a chance of economic reform that can happen as a spillover of South South cooperation, then such cooperation measures could be used to create democratization in the countries that get engaged in those measures. Performance of south south cooperation in terms of its sustainability can actually increase if those measures create more stable democratization process as an outcome of cooperation.
If the two nations can discount the fact that such democratization process can start as an outcome of the cooperation, then there is a larger change that they will forge such cooperation provided that the two countries are not being guided by authoritarian government and governance principles.
However whether such democratization will happen or not also depends on the political leadership which  is at the centre stage of South South cooperation measures. The value system instilled by the political leaders in the implementation measures  of South South cooperation policies will guide the nature of democratization as an outcome of the South South Cooperation measures.
Democratization process can be understood through a short and long term view. The one which has emerged in southern Europe or in East of Africa is more of a long term nature whereas the one which has emerged in Latin America, Europe is of a short term nature (Di  Palma, 1990).

The reason behind this different duration of democracy and its effect on economic reform can happen owing to a following reason.  In a country which has achieved a new democracy, people are more sensitive and if they expect that there are chances of losing out from economic reform process in the new democracy then the tensions can increase between a new democracy and economic reform. Precisely this then guides how long a democracy will stay in a country. Two countries in South South Cooperation on same levels of economic development can forge a stronger partnership. But the strength of the partnership will also depend on how internally the people of the countries are managing the tensions between the trade offs of economic reform, democracy and the fears of losing out from such economic reform process. This can only happen if the domestic governance structures, institutions of the two countries are not able to give confidence to the people of the nation. The degree of confidence giving by the state to the people in turn also depends on the positioning of the democracy and at what point of democracy the two countries are standing out. If the democracy is well rooted to the social origins of the people then the fragility and negativity of the tensions between the people from loosening out from a growing democracy, economic reform process can go down. This can instill larger strength to the nature of democratic functioning of the nations, which thereby can also help in forging in South South Cooperation measures of the two partnering countries.
Historical dynamism and relationship guides this process that can also thereby act as a contributory factor in determining the South South Cooperation relationship of the two countries. The nature of the relationship within the countries and people of the countries also determine the cooperation relationship. One can find linkages between this proposition and Moores work on social origins of democracy .  Social origins of democracy will also depend on how people, civil societies are functioning in a democratic state and whether the state is connected to the people through civil society groups. Such connection can go up through reduction in concentration of bureaucratic and aggregated forms of representation.  Robust civil society participation, transparent institutional functioning, larger societal disaggregated linkages across the people of the society existing in the nations forging South South Cooperation can pave a way towards stronger social origins of democracy in partnering countries of South South Cooperation.