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Mozambique Insurgency 2021 and impact on India’s interest – International Relations Current Affairs

Mozambique Insurgency 2021 and impact on India’s interest – International Relations Current Affairs

Relevance:

  • GS 2 || International Relations || India & Rest of the World || Africa

Why in the news?

Five presidents had recently conveyed for a crisis summit in Maputo to discuss how to combat rebels in Mozambique. The meeting comes just after 12 people were beheaded following an attack claimed by the “Islamic State.”

Eastern Africa:

  • The UN subregion of East Africa consists of 20 countries in the eastern part of the continent.
  • These countries include some of the poorest nations in the world situated in the Horn of Africa and Great Lakes regions.
  • The region of East Africa is made up of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda; and the Horn of Africa, made up of Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea, and Ethiopia.

East Africa: Significance for India

  • Historical reasons: India‟s East African relations date back many centuries, to the time when Indian traders began to engage with countries along the eastern coast of Africa.
  • Political relationships: India has been enjoying great political relationships with the East African countries, especially Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The India–Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) is the official platform for the African-Indian relations. India takes part in the summit every single time since it was started in 2008.
  • Strategic reasons: The strategic location of East Africa in the Indian Ocean makes it imperative for India to cultivate and sustain good relations with the countries in the region.
  • Economic needs: India‟s economic partnership with East African countries has been vibrant, extending beyond trade and investment to technology transfers, knowledge sharing, and skills development. Indian-African synergies can be used for expanding sectors like tourism, banking, telecommunications, manufacturing and agriculture
  • Indian Diaspora: East Africa has a long Indian Diaspora heritage. The Indian Diaspora in the East African region plays a very significant role in promoting India-Africa relations. With their business ties with India and a good knowledge of Africa, Indians in East Africa have played a significant role in attracting new investments from India to the African continent.
  • Increasing competition from China: While India insists that it is not in competition with any other external player in Africa, there is little doubt that China’s activities have provoked a more proactive Indian approach, both at the government and business level, towards East Africa and the continent at large.

Challenges:

  • Lack of government capacity to sustain bilateral engagements: Another challenge that both India and African nations face is the lack of capacity, particularly at the government level, to sustain bold foreign policy initiatives. For instance over two dozen Indian embassies in Africa are missing Ambassadors/High Commissioners. While political initiatives by strong leaders make for good headlines, their implementation is dependent on the ability of official institutions to sustain them.
  • Changing foreign policy of India: This Indo-African relationship primarily stemmed from Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s leadership and firm stance against colonialism, imperialism and hegemony by colonial powers in the African continent. Now when India is changing its posture from Non-alignment to inclination towards the US, it may pose a challenge to the Indo-East Africa relationship.
  • China factor: China has increasingly expanded its sphere of influence in the region. It has acquired rights over Djibouti to use it for various purposes, including military purposes. The increasing influence of China poses a threat to India’s national security in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
  • Rampant Ethnic conflicts: Ethnic and religious conflicts and governance issues in most of the east African countries such as Somalia, Horn of Africa etc. undermine full cooperation between India and East Africa.
  • Lack of coherent Policy for the region: India has no coordinated East Africa policy nor does there seem to be an avenue where the strengths of both actors can be leveraged

Recent Measures by India to strength India-East Africa relations:

  • Vaccine Maitri: During Covid-19 pandemic, India delivered around 7 million dosses of cicid vaccine to east African countries such as Kenya and Uganda alone. The ‘Vaccine Maitri’ initiative has strengthened India-east Africa bilateral relationship.
  • Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) program: India is investing in capacity building providing more than $1 billion in technical assistance and training to personnel under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) program.
  • Projects for sustainable development: As a full member of African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), India has pledged $1 million towards ACBF’s sustainable development, poverty alleviation, and capacity building initiative.
  • Pan-Africa e-network: India has also invested $100 million in the Pan-African E-Network to bridge the digital divide in Africa, leveraging its strengths in information technology.
  • Training and capacity building of African armed forces: Indian military academies offer training to military officers from a number of African states.
  • Growth corridor: India has also unveiled the Vision Document of the Asian Africa Growth Corridor which is jointly prepared by Indian and Japanese think tanks. The corridor will focus on Developing Cooperation Projects, Quality Infrastructure and Institutional Connectivity, skill enhancement, and People-to-People Partnership.

Way ahead:

  • India needs to increase its institutional capacity of foreign affairs ministry to sustain the large scale engagement with African countries.
  • India also needs to think through innovative measures to counter growing Chinese influence in the region.
  • The institutional organisations such as Africa-India Summit, African Union (AU), etc, need to be strengthened through bilateral cooperation.
  • India needs to increase its development assistance and also its expertise of anti-insurgency operations to the east African countries to keep them relatively free from the ethnic conflict and terrorism.

Model Mains Question:

  1. Assess the significance of the East African region for India’s interests. Discuss the measures that need to be taken by India to preserve its national interests in the region.