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Indian Govt’s Attempts to Attract More Africans
At the national level, the Indian government is making special efforts to woo Africa and obtain the cooperation of the 54 African countries for mutual benefit and as a block for votes in the international forum like the United Nations. India has been holding India-Africa summits with all African countries since 2008 to promote bilateral relations in many spheres. The most recent such meeting in Delhi in 2015 was attended by almost all heads of African states and Prime Minister Narendra Modi made special efforts to welcome and meet each one of them.
Cooperation in many fields was proposed and agreed upon. Investment and export credits were top features. Summit meetings, like the conclave in New Delhi earlier this month, carry the economic agenda further. India has mounted a diplomatic outreach to Africa, with visits by its president, vice-president, the prime minister and ministers to African states.
Need For a Public Campaign
However, repeated boorish behaviour and violent assaults wipe out all these goodwill gestures while seriously damaging India’s reputation and the fate of the Indian diaspora contributing to the development of Africa. So what can be done to remedy this pathetic situation?
First, the police must crack down on all accused of racial insults and violence to Africans. A thorough investigation, a fool-proof prosecution and tough punishment should be the primary response by the authorities. And that's not enough; the punishment must be reported by the media as a deterrent to all others.
Second, in addition to pacifying diplomatic statements by the External Affairs Ministry, other ministries and organisations must be roped in to launch a strong and aggressive public campaign to promote racial harmony.
Third, the Public Diplomacy division of the MEA should launch a campaign to inform and educate Indian students in high schools, universities and higher institutes of learning about Africa and its importance to India. Africa is still undiscovered by almost all Indians. All they know about Africa are the cricket teams from South Africa and Zimbabwe!
Four, in addition to offering higher education and medical treatment for Africans, India should urgently establish branches of its universities and specialist hospitals, at least in east, west, central and South Africa. These projects have languished for ages in the preliminary stages and now the time has come to implement them urgently to reduce the flow of African students and patients to India.
The prejudice and violence against Africans in India is not going away anytime soon. Strong, drastic and sustained action is overdue.