Week 8 – Emerging Powers: India in Africa

Sarah Virani

The readings for this week examined the Indo-African relations. In the first article India’s Rise in Africa, Ian Taylor examines the overlooked relationship between the two countries. While Indian diaspora largely exists in Africa, the presence of India in Africa is driven by private, commercially operated industries. India’s reasoning for their presence is to have energy security and also to gain a position as a global power on the world stage. As India develops, it loses interest in the idea of South-South solidarity, which I believe could be problematic and cause tensions between the countries.

It was not surprising that the main challenge in the relationship between India and Africa is the lack of governance and the large presence of corruption. Taylor discusses how the presence of India in Africa creates competition amongst other countries for Africa’s resources, which in turn increases Africa’s capacity to have access to good at a price, which is more affordable. One of India’s main competitors in Africa is China. India followed China’s footsteps and established the Africa-India Forum Summit, which wanted to change the view of India from a recipient of aid to a donor. I believe that this could be way for India to play a game of catch-up with China in regards to their involvement in Africa.

In the second article Offshore Healthcare Management: Medical Tourism between Kenya, Tanzania and India, the author focuses on the role of medical tourism from Africa to India. While India is a destination country, the majority of patients are from Kenya and Tanzania, which Modi highlights. Africans go to India because the medical infrastructure is more advanced than Africa’s and to seek treatment for problems, which they had not been correctly diagnosed or local hospitals in Africa could not provide them with the necessary treatments. I found it interesting that Modi raised the point that some Africans frowned upon the term ‘medical tourism’ has tourism typically refers to a fun holiday hence why it is referred to as offshore health management. I agree that this term can be problematic as it depicts something that it is not. Public health delivery in Africa suffered from structural adjustment policies. The continent relies on expensive imported pharmaceutical products. The analogy mentioned of ‘unhealthy refugees’ is significant because it illustrates the realities of those who receive treatment in India.

The final article, Fragile Fortunes: India’s Oil Venture into War-torn Sudan examines India’s national oil company, ONGC-Videsh (OVL) and their presence in the African state of Sudan. The association of oil with armed conflict in the state raises concern over the political relations between Africa and India. Patey highlights that India’s engagement with the oil companies’ in Sudan ignored the human rights atrocities in the state and were more concerned over the companies’ safety. It is evident that both Sudan and India supported each other, especially as Sudan hoped that India would have a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. I was surprised to learn that India has been able to avoid a lot of the negative publicity, especially from the West as their corporations pushed out of Sudan. As oil in Sudan is a cause of armed conflict, countries investing should be precautious as to whether their investment will due further harm in the state.

Discussion Questions

1) Do you believe that India has increased its efforts in Africa in order to have a more profound position in Africa especially if they are in competition with Chinas involvement on the continent?

2) What are some of the differences between India and China’s relationship with Africa?

3) What are some of the possible implications caused by the close relationship between India and Africa for the West?

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