Kenya: An Indian safari

Chapatis are for Christmas and biryani is for weddings. And samosas are forever. Traces of India and Indians can be found just about everywhere in the leafy, sunlit streets of the capital of Kenya which has emerged as an economic magnet for the East African region.

If you are looking for a bit of an escape, take a ‘gaddi’ (vehicle), ask your driver to put on a Bollywood number (he is sure to have the latest CDs), and go on a safari to one of the game parks Kenya is famous for.

Cultures and languages intersect effortlessly in Nairobi. There are all-Indian malls, the Indian Bazaar, any number of Indian restaurants offering a mouth-watering variety of Indian cuisine and theatres showing Indian films.

It is this deep cultural bonding, cemented by the history of anti-colonial solidarity and 70,000-strong Indian diaspora,that underpins the vibrant multi-faceted diplomatic relationship between India and Kenya. The spirit of enterprise animates the blossoming economic relationship that dates back to traders sailing to and fro between Momabsa and Mumbai decades ago. Bilateral trade had already exceeded $4 billion. And leading Indian companies have pitched their tent in this gateway to East Africa. Tata Chemicals, Essar Energy, Bharti Airtel, Reliance Industries Ltd, Mahindra and Mahindra are just some of top-billing corporates doing thriving business in Kenya.

Developmental partnership remains as robust as ever. India has extended several lines of credit and grant running into millions of dollars for the development of power transmission sector and bolstering economic-related infrastructure. Training and nurturing human resource of Kenya is a shining pillar of India-Kenya partnership. The Indian government provides over 100 scholarships annually to Kenyan nationals, which includes scholarships for professional training under the Indian Technical & Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Programme and Indian Council of Cultural Relations scholarships. India is also a preferred educational destination for Kenyan students. Many Kenyans live and study in India. Nearly 18,000 visas for India are issued annually.

Weaving trade, development and culture into a rich tapestry, the evolving India-Kenya relations form a rich mosaic that is reflected in countless ways Indians and Kenyans interact and nurture this mutually empowering partnership between the two countries. It’s the spirit of Ubuntu- I am because of you. In this safari of India-Kenya friendship, there are no full stops. Only new milestones…

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