Emerging Powers: India in Africa

This week’s articles largely focussed on India and its emerging role as an investor and aid donor to African countries. Our first article, by Ian Taylor examines the rise of India’s economy and its transition from being an aid receiver to an aid donor in hope of gaining recognition on the world stage as an independent world power. In the article, the author builds on the idea of India’s partnership with African states as being ones of South-South solidarity, and draws comparisons between India’s investment and aid strategies to those of China. The author demonstrates how a key motive behind India’s involvement with African countries is to seek out legitimacy from international actors in order to attain a position on the UN Security Council and to advance itself in political and economic terms. In my opinion it is concerning that India is giving aid to African countries when its population continues to face extreme levels of poverty and malnutrition. Therefore, this article largely demonstrates how India is using development assistance primarily for political objectives and to increase its economic activity.

The second article we had to read by Renu Modi, discusses the concept of medical tourism, which is when people seek healthcare in a different country than their own because it may have better equipment or be less expensive that the healthcare sources in their home country. The author states how India is becoming increasingly popular as a destination for medical tourists because of its ability to provide high quality healthcare at a low costs. As a result, this has contributed to India’s relationships with other countries, including those in East Africa, due to the frequency of medical tourists from these countries, as well as India’s growing role in providing support for healthcare initiatives in Africa countries. In the article the author also discusses the issue of how many people in African countries are still not able to afford travelling to another country such as India for healthcare, and therefore argues that there is a need for local governments to make healthcare more affordable and accessible for their citizens.

Unfortunately I was not able to access the last article by Luke Patey, so instead I read the article by Padraig Carmody called India and the ‘Asian Drivers’ in Africa, which was also in the book India in Africa: Changing Geographies of Power. This article focused largely on what motives lay behind India’s involvement in Africa as well as the various resources sought after by Indian investors in African countries and the role of migration and geopolitics. I found this article really interesting in the way that it built on Ian Taylor’s article by furthering the comparison between Indian and Chinese investment and how India’s need to compete with China is a significant motive behind its involvement in Africa. In the article, the author discusses the irony behind how India gives aid to Africa despite the fact that India has a higher proportion of malnutrition that the Africa countries that it gives aid to. This demonstrates how India’s motives are primarily political and economic, not humanitarian. The author expands by discussing how India’s investment in Africa is a result for their want to be recognized as a world power and a competitive player in the international economy, as well as the fact that it needs Africa votes to secure a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. The article highlights India’s sense of competition with China by the geopolitical significance of how India denied China participation in the IBSA (India, Brazil, and South Africa) dialogue and how it is establishing naval defence agreements with Mozambique, Madagascar and Kenya in fear of Chinese expansion. This makes me wonder if there is a possibility of India experiencing a backlash from China as a result of the defensiveness and competition that India has established towards China.

Questions:

  • In the article by Carmody, the author states that, “The difference between the first and the second ‘scrambles’ for Africa is the difference between colonialism or globalization.” – Do you agree or disagree, and why?
    • Building on this is the question posed by Taylor, “is India a scrambler or a development partner, a self-interested actor bent on exploitation, or one that aspires to some level of mutual benefit?” (pg. 795)
  • Do you think India will face any economic (or social) challenges in the future as a result giving financial aid to African countries when India currently suffers from high levels of poverty itself?

– M. Thwaites

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