India needs to focus on a long-term exploration of seven dimensions that distinguish it positively and could develop into a strategic advantage over China.
- First, India should not shy away from publicizing that instead of just “giving fish” and thus perpetuating Africa’s dependence, it is teaching the continent how to fish for itself (Times of India, New Delhi). India’s presence in Africa is marked by the predominance of its private sector, manly small and medium enterprises focusing on education skilling and health services.
- Second, India and Africa share an enviable geographical proximity in the western Indian Ocean. The piracy threat along the Somali and East African coast offers the Indian Navy superb opportunity to develop into a regional security provider. The Indian Ocean naval Symposium and the revival of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation are important steps in this direction..
- Third India could develop its democracy and human rights discourse in Africa. Several African countries have expressed interest in learning from India’s successful experience with federalism. Others are keen in working with the Election Commission of India of study and replicate India’s unique electronic voting system.
- Fourth, India needs to explore its diplomatic capital as a “bridging power”. India’s role as a non-aligned power and consistent support to the African independence movements has also earned it a persisting respectability.
- A Fifth advantage resides in the cultural proximity between African and India. Almost 100000 Indian citizens and one million people of Indian origin live in Africa. Indian communities are fully integrated, as well as interested in offering their local expertise and privileged access channels consultants to Indian interests.
- India is in a better position to offer Africa a better educational opportunity, in helping them learn English, in helping them learn skills and in medical take care. India offers to Africa build a knowledge economy like no other country.
- Africa offers enormous scope for India to extend its soft power status and to bind the whole continent with soft power. This is largely on account of popularity of Indian cinema, Indian way of life and Indian education in Africa.
- Finally, As India becomes a true Blue water navy it will need to leverage its potential in forging diplomatic relations with littoral states as these are the states that will help India in its naval power projection.
Source– Strategic Affairs, Hindustan times, Economic Times