New Indians in Africa

The Guardian has a piece on India’s growing economic influence on the continent. It opens with Manmohan Singh receiving a red-carpet welcome as he led a delegation to the India-Africa summit in Addis Ababa, which 15 African leaders reportedly attending.

“The India-Africa partnership rests on three pillars of capacity building and skill transfer, trade and infrastructure development,” said Singh at the start of the six-day trip to Ethiopia and Tanzania. “Africa is emerging as a new growth pole of the world, while India is on a path of sustained and rapid economic development.” The trade meeting is to be attended by 15 African leaders. On its fringes was an India show comprising business seminars, cultural projects and a trade exhibition.

It may be high-revivalist times for former non-aligned nations, but building political and economic ties, and positioning itself as different from China-all while attempting to distance itself from the criticism about human rights abuses and corruption-isn’t going to be easy for India. (For starters, in the photograph above taken at the summit, Singh poses with some unsavory “leaders,” including King Mswati III of Swaziland and Teodoro Obiang of Equatorial Guinea.)

The comments below the article are also indicative of the general congratulatory mood, as well as the ignorance, fear, and silliness that arise when when trade agreements (which are about money and securing assets, not high-minded patriotism) are made. Africa – and Africans’ part in the deal – is lost in the back-slapping and vitriol.–Neelika Jayawardane

Further Reading

No more caricatures

Engaging seriously with Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s life could help us understand how South Africa got where it is and where it’s going.