Political Economy of Africa-India Relations: Remaking of a South-South Alliance?
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It is analytically awkward to compare the relationship between a country and a continent. Arguably, in this case it is possible since India is a postcolonial country of continental proportions due to its size and diversity, while the African continent is comprised of sixty-one territories, with shared histories, identities and closely tied economies carved out rather arbitrarily by former colonizers. Traditionally Africa-India relationship has been driven by the shared historical experience of colonization and the concomitant political, social and economic problems that the newly independent states faced. During the Cold War era, the Non-Aligned perspective espoused by India and a significant number of African countries created further common grounds. Additionally, the Indian Diaspora settled on the African continent since colonial times has been an important agent in this relationship. However, the emergence of the New or Knowledge Economy has affected India and Africa remarkably differently. While the resilience of democracy and the post-independence policy of government subsidization of education, coupled with the liberalization of economic sectors opened the flood gates of impressive economic growth and a reckoning as a future world power for India, Africa has benefited marginally from the New Economy, with only a few exceptions. Poverty has widened and deepened even in the most developed economies in Africa; political instability has become the hallmark of a number of African countries; and regionalization efforts have remained stymied. Ironically the rise of the BRIC group of countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) has led to further political and economic marginalization of the African countries internationally. Economically, China and India are greatly contributing to demand growth for African commodities; however, this is only contributing to a raw material boom. Will this trap the continent in a vicious international division of labor? What does the emergence of China and India mean for Africa? How has Indiaâ s engagement with Africa changed in the new political economy? This presentation will outline the historical trajectory of India-Africa relations in the international political economy.