NSG support, stronger defence ties signal a new era in India-South Africa ties

modi-zuma-2016Ending weeks of speculation, South Africa has declared support for India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, a key takeaway for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Africa’s economic powerhouse.

Getting the support of South Africa, a non-proliferation hawk which renounced its nuclear programme decades ago, was on top of Modi’s agenda in Pretoria.

South Africa had expressed reservations about India’s NSG membership and is understood to have cited process-related issues, which fuelled speculation in New Delhi that Pretoria was echoing the line of Beijing. India has singled out China for stalling its NSG membership at the plenary held in Seoul last month.

Mr Modi has already visited many Western countries to drum up support for India’s membership of the 48-nation NSG, and managed to win over sceptics like Switzerland and Mexico during his five-nation tour last month.

Modi’s wide-ranging talks with South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma on July 9 firmed up a substantive agenda for galvanising India-South Africa relationship across the spectrum, with special focus on collaboration in defence, value-added manufacturing and information technology. Taking a long-range view of strategic partnership, Zuma ended ambivalence by conveying his country’s support for India’s entry into the NSG, which will enable greater access for India to civil nuclear technologies.

“I thanked the President for South Africa’s support to India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group,” announced Mr Modi at a joint media address with the South African leader. The announcement triggered cheers in India’s strategic circles and took many by surprise.

Pretoria also declared support for PM Modi’s pet Make in India mission as the two countries agreed on forging joint development of high-tech weaponry. “Beyond economic ties, and links of business, trade and investment, we can also partner in the field of defence and security. Both, at the level of industry and for our strategic and security needs.”

“In India, this is one of the sectors witnessing a complete transformation. It offers exciting opportunities in defence trade. Our companies can also pool their capacities to jointly develop or manufacture defence equipment and platforms. And, not just to meet our defence needs, but also to respond to regional and global demand,” said Mr Modi.

modi-zuma-ganshiThe two countries have also agreed to bolster strategic partnership by enhancing cooperation over a host of cross-cutting challenges, ranging from terrorism to climate change.

Mr Modi’s visit to South Africa, which has been cheered by the political establishment and the 1.3 million-strong Indian diaspora, promises to end drift in ties between the two long-standing partners, which have been framed by anti-colonial and anti-apartheid struggle.



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Manish Chand
Manish Chand
Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.