Brookings India was part of a consultation on “India-Africa Partnership: Priorities and Prospects” organised by think tanks, Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) in collaboration with Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA), and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) at the India Habitat Centre.
India and Africa, with a combined population of 2.3 billion and very old civilisational ties, are looking at deeper political and economic engagement and the upcoming India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) next month would see many fresh ideas thrown up, said a top official at the consultation.
Brookings India Senior Fellow Dr WPS Sidhu said Africa was an indispensable continent for India, and that there was need to engage with it not only at a government-to-government level, but also for industry (which has been leading the relations more recently) to work together with think-tanks and civil society.
“Given that the India-Africa Forum Summit happens once in three years, it is important to keep up the momentum in between as well, through inter-governmental interaction, as well as through regular interaction between other stakeholders, particularly think-tanks,” he said.
Dr Sidhu suggested that Indian peacekeepers that work in Africa can also act like our ambassadors in the region. “India has the largest number of peacekeepers deployed in Africa. There is a possibility of using them as part of India’s diplomatic outreach to the African countries where they serve.”
While one of the themes at the consultation was for the media in India to do more to promote India-Africa relations in a more prominent way, Dr Sidhu suggested one way to get media attention would be to promote high-level visits political between the two regions.
“India and Africa have areas of convergence and areas of divergence. India should build its strength in the areas of convergence, but also manage the areas of divergence with Africa, for example on matters related to climate change,” Dr Sidhu concluded.
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Jonathan D. Pollack will moderate a discussion with Ambassador Frank Wisner on potential nuclear conflicts in Asia and shifting U.S. nuclear policy on April 1.