Week 8

The article by Ian Taylor (2012), India’s rise in Africa, discusses the increased growth in economic relations between India and Africa. India, once being an aid receiver has transformed into an aid giver with its own political interests just like the U.S. and uses it to their advantage to carry out developmental and profitable projects in Africa. The most influential actors are the Export-Import Bank of India and the Confederation of Indian Industries. The transactions and activities that they carry out are all commercially driven and private, and serve within the telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing and energy sectors. The Prime Minister of India views Africa as ‘a major growth pole of the world’ offering significant opportunities for new investment sites, export markets and capital accumulation for Indian-based interests (p.780). This includes the ‘Focus Africa’ initiative, whereby the extension of lines of credit was offered to support imports of goods and services from India to Ethiopia, Kenya and Mauritius. Involvements such as this differ from China’s dealings with Africa, as China focuses more on state-to-state deals, infrastructure development, and industries/opportunities left behind but can be restarted to bring back into the market.

This sort of relationship appears beneficial to India as it is trying to curve its own niche in the global market alongside developed, commercialized nations of the West. African countries are good places to begin establishing businesses and increasing trade activities to gain its credibility worldwide. In terms of overall costs too, in a place like Africa, that has undiscovered resources and plenty of human capital, India’s benefitting greatly by taking advantage of an existing positive relationship that they have had for years and presenting opportunities for African businesses to flourish. I think another major factor in this Indo-African relationship is the fact that the culture between the two is very similar in terms of basic values, morals, family dynamics and religious beliefs. This allows India to be a step ahead of China because they can then design products and services that will be tailored to satisfy the needs of Africans while also strengthening that relationship even more.

The last two readings from the book, India in Africa: Changing Geographies of Power, discusses major changes that are taking place in the global economy and polity, comparing India to China and other ‘rising powers’ in Africa. The piece by Renu Modi examines the concept of medical tourism by African patients from Kenya and Tanzania in India. She argues that the proximity of India to many African countries, its high level of expertise and comparative cost advantage over the West, are some of the factors that provide insight into the recent influx of Africans to India for medical treatment. African patients have given positive feedback about their treatment in India, emphasizing on the skilful doctors, advanced machines and big hospital spaces. The medical tourism industry is growing rapidly and it provides various investment opportunities between India and Africa, as health-care may seem affordable to those who are able to pay for treatment abroad. But as Modi concludes and I definitely agree with her, that, Africa should come up with new incentives to provide healthcare to the large population that cannot afford it abroad and require good domestic treatment. As well, instead of relying heavily on expensive imported pharmaceutical products, Africa should consult with its own healthcare professionals and invest on medical research to produce its own medication and other materials necessary to provide treatment.

The last reading from the book titled Fragile Fortunes: India’s Oil Venture into War-torn Sudan, examines India’s national oil company, OVL, and its motives behind investing in Sudan. While India entered the market at the end of war between northern and southern Sudan and the beginning of war in Darfur, there is an increase in concern and certain levels of insecurity amongst the Sudanese. This is because India was not concerned about the people in the state but rather more cautious about the safety of the company. The topic of oil has never ended well for Sudan and has always resulted to armed conflicts, so while Sudan was trying to recover from war, India and China’s rivalry with each other to extract oil from Sudan received threats from their military and other regimes. While trying to make profit out of a war-torn country where they were not accepted, OVL still remains operating fully with chances of not succeeding like the other established oil companies that had to exit due to the high risks of failing.

Questions:

  1. Do you think the eventual outcome of ‘medical tourism’ by African patients to India is merely advancement on India as a Southern hegemon? Or is it really the goal of Indian government to provide healthcare support to Africans in need of it?
  2. Do you think India would have entered Sudan to take advantage of their war-torn economy even if the West did not end up exiting the market due to high risks of failing?
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