Modi’s Africa: Skill, Scale and Speed

It’s time for Afro-optimism in India, and it is crystallised in the ongoing third India-Africa Forum Summit, the biggest diplomatic show India has hosted in over three decades. The narrative of a resurgent continent is intersecting with that of a rising India, opening up new vistas for reinvigorating a critical partnership between the two growth hubs of the rejuvenated global South.

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Akbar-nama: Art of truth-telling, spinning and much else

You have only one life to live, and one question to ask. One question, one person. And don’t weave multiple questions into one, like the Matryoshka doll. And as any seasoned journalist covering India’s foreign office, better known as MEA, knows by this time that they can speculate endlessly, but he does not respond to speculation. Only hard facts, truth-telling, albeit with a bit of spinning that goes with his job.
Syed Akbaruddin’s pointed one-liners, witticisms and sharp ripostes are now part of folklore in the universe the voraciously inquisitive and intrusive media inhabits. And rightly so, for Akbar, as he is being fondly called by his colleagues in the ministry and journalists covering the MEA beat, set new benchmarks for communicating and batting for the government, regardless of the dispensation in power.
Akbar, the spokesperson of India’s external affairs ministry who makes way for his successor Vikas Swarup on April 18, will be sorely missed by his countless admirers as he moves into his next position, this time around as Chief Coordinator for the Third India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS-III), to be held in New Delhi in October. The new interim position, till he gets a coveted ambassadorial posting, reflects the high standing he enjoys with the powers-that-be as the Narendra Modi government was looking exactly for someone like Akbar to be the face of India’s diplomatic outreach to Africa.
With his proven skills in communication and public diplomacy which he helmed for India for over three years, the government can safely bank on the suave and articulate Akbar to pull off a successful summit and the larger project of building bridges with the vibrant African continent that is set to loom large on India’s diplomatic horizons in months to come.

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India’s enhanced Africa diplomacy takes off, with Tanzania & S. Africa

The Narendra Modi government has flagged off its enhanced Africa diplomacy, which will be telescoped in India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s first bilateral visit to two key partners of New Delhi in the resurgent African continent – Tanzania and South Africa. The forthcoming African safari of Mrs Swaraj will cohere the trinity of India’s engagement with Africa that pivots around three Ts: Trade, Training and Technology.
The minister’s interactions with her counterparts in Dar es Salaam and Pretoria are going to focus primarily on stepping up bilateral relations across the spectrum, but will also involve some preliminary consultations on the evolving agenda of the third edition of the India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS-III) in New Delhi later this year. This will be the Modi government’s first summit-level interaction with the leaders of African countries, and promises to be bigger and grander than the previous two summits in New Delhi and Addis Ababa.
The March 28-31 visit of Mrs Swaraj, which was formally announced by Syed Akbaruddin, the spokesperson of India’s external affairs ministry on March 20, will be watched closely in the continent as this will signal the Modi government’s desire to raise the bar for this vibrant multi-faceted relationship that some feel was not given enough attention during the first few months of the new Indian government.

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