Africa India Relations — Promoting Harmony and Goodwill


Dr Ravi P Bhatia – TRANSCEND Media Service

Africa is a continent comprising 54 countries and has a population of about 1.3 billion people of which Nigeria on the western coast is the most populated one. Incidentally India itself has a population of the same size.

Africa is a multi lingual continent and has vast diversities — social, economic, racial and historical. It has been colonised by several colonial powers — Portugal, Spain, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Italy for brief periods of time. But the most important colonial powers have been France and England. France had colonised a few north western countries including, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Côte d’Ivoire,   Chad etc and as a result, the French language is widely spoken in these countries; they are also known as Francophone countries.

The British colonialism was mainly confined on the eastern part of the continent— Kenya, Uganda  and South Africa on the southern side of Africa. Mozambique had been colonised by Portugal.

Egypt is another country in the north eastern side of the continent that has a long and rich civilisation. It now connects the Mediterranean and Red Seas and is located near Greece, Saudi Arabia, Iraq as well as Israel. Egypt’s civilisation is universally admired and some of its artefacts are found in a few well known museums in France, England and elsewhere. Pharaohs are also part of this heritage.

India’s relationship with Africa dates to pre historical times and the precolonial period for the purposes of exchange of trade and culture. This relationship was fortified mainly by Britain which had colonised India also. Africa needed labour in agriculture and for several infra development activities; the labour was supplied mainly from India and neighbouring regions. Trade and commercial relations also were promoted.

The challenges faced by Indian indentured labour in S Africa, Uganda, Kenya are well known as a result of Mahatma Gandhi’s long stay — 21 years in S Africa. His interaction with the country’s leaders — Nelson Mandela, Bishop Tutu and others have been documented by Gandhi himself and others. In fact his stay was politically a learning experience for Gandhi. The ideas of peaceful protests and Satyagraha developed as political tools by Gandhi against racism, injustice, freedom are now well established in many parts of the world apart from India and S Africa. Many countries including India gained their independence from colonial rule after the end of WW II with help of these political means of Gandhi.

Several places — Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town, Tolstoy Farm (developed by Gandhi) are well known names to Indians as a result of the challenges faced by Gandhi and how they were overcome by him. Although he faced racialism and injustice himself, today there are statues of this great icon of India in these places.

As a result of India’s policies of having good relationships not only with the rich prosperous countries — USA, Russia, England, France China, Japan etc but also with  Africa and countries on the east, several initiatives are being taken to promote trade and goodwill with them. Towards this end, a Seminar was held a few weeks back in New Delhi the Indian capital, on the Legacies of Gandhi and Nelson Mandela.

Last week (3, 4 September) a conference was held in Delhi again, on  India-Africa Partnership in a Changing Global Order  to discuss the challenges being faced by the people of Africa and India.   Delegates who participated in the conference were from different fields — culture, education, science and technology, apart from some students and some political personalities. H.E. Alem Woldemariam, the Ambassador of Eritrea was present and also addressed the audience.

Some of the areas discussed in the Conference included Enhancing People to People Cooperation, Common Security Challenges, Promoting Economic Development, Factoring Diaspora Relationship, etc. An Indian scholar who had travelled to many regions of the continent and had met Indian Diaspora living there made a very interesting presentation on these people, some of whom had been living in Africa for four generations. She spoke of their perspectives of India and how, given any opportunity they travel to India to learn about India which they somehow feel is their motherland. They also faced difficulties in India trying to locate and meet people who were relatives of their parents or grandparents.

Another interesting presentation made was on the popularity of Hindi cinema— usually called Bollywood, in some parts of Africa. The African people loved Indian cinema for its dances and music and social issues that were highlighted in some of the films. The speaker mentioned that even though there were occasionally no subtitles to the Hindi dialogs, they still enjoyed these films, some of which made a lot of money. The audiences loved some popular actors like Shahrukh Khan, Amitabh Bachman, Raj Kapoor and Nargis among others.

Another interesting topic that was discussed was on the status of African students in Indian Universities and Colleges. Many students come to India  because studying in India is much cheaper than in Europe or USA or Canada. But they face several problems including racial remarks that some students face and not receiving in time, scholarships and stipends they are entitled to. The speakers were sympathetic to these issues and suggested how these problems could be reduced.

Incidentally I am participating in a conference in Cape Town on 18 – 20 September. I will perhaps better appreciate the problems of overseas students during my stay in that place.

Like most International Conferences, there were also preventions made by some political personalities including Ambassadors and officers working in commercial enterprises in Africa. They presented a different perspective and offered some suggestions to improve India Africa Partnership. In this context, the Valedictory Address was made by the Vice President of India Shri M Venkaiah Naidu, whose photograph is appended in this article.

Altogether an interesting and enriching experience that promoted harmony and goodwill among delegates, students and scholars.


Dr Ravi P Bhatia is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment, an educationist, Gandhian scholar and peace researcher. Retired professor, Delhi University. His new book, A Garland of Ideas—Gandhian, Religious, Educational, Environmental was published recently in Delhi.

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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 16 Sep 2019.

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One Response to “Africa India Relations — Promoting Harmony and Goodwill”

  1. samir sardana says:

    Africa- India love ?

    Is that for real ?

    What does history and theology say ? dindooohindoo

    Y do Nigerians and Africans come to Hindoosthan – to study ? Hindoos and Indians, by extension , are anti-black anti-african, by genetic, ideological and theological design.

    The Southern Indians – also called Sudroids,are offspringed from the Negroids of Africa..Indian History records that several Abyssinian sunni slaves,from Nigeria and Ethiopia,came to India as slaves and then became soldiers,and thereafter became kings who ruled over Bengal,The Deccan and Central India for centuries.

    The Indians are ashamed about this – when they see Africans in their nation – as this part of their history is not taught,in any Indian History – Educational Book !

    Abyssinian Muslim slave kings also trained “so called gurerilla fighters”, who later became kings – like Shivaji.This is also a fact that Hindoos refuse to acknowledge -as it shames them.

    Hindoos state that Rama of Ramayana was a fair skinned blue eyed god.In reality,as per the Ramayana, Rama was a black skinned man (as stated below) whose wife ran off and was in love with
    another african,who was the king of Lanka – called Ravana.

    Book II : Ayodhya Kanda – Book Of Ayodhya

    Chapter[Sarga] 2

    तेषामायाचितं देव त्वत्प्रसादा त्समृद्ध्यताम् |
    राममिन्दीवरश्यामं सर्वशत्रुनिबर्हणम् || २-२-५३
    पश्यामो यौवराज्यस्थं तव राजोत्तमाऽअत्मजम् |

    “Oh best of kings, Dasaratha ! We shall see Rama adorned with princely kingdom. Your son Rama has the complexion of a black lotus flower and annihilates all his enemies. Let the wish of the people be fulfilled by your grace.

    Rama’s wife spent 12 years with Ravana – and produced 2 kids – Luv and Kush.The Kushites of Africa claim lineage from Kush (Ravana was a Black man and Kush was Black)

    This is a source of acute discomfort to the Hindoos !

    The fair skinned Indians are the offspring of the Scythians, Sakas, Greeks,Mongols,Mughals,Persians etc who pillaged Indian women, and some stayed back in Hindoosthan and settled with Hindoos,and their own breed.So they are,at best. a mongrel race.

    These fair skinned people wrote the Rig Veda and other vedas, wherein “hate of the black skin” and their “extermination is rationalised,justified,eulogised and celebrated”.Black skinned inhabitants of India in the era of the Rig Veda were called “Dasyus”.

    The Theological Proof

    Black Colour

     “He, much invoked, hath slain Dasyus and Simyus, after his wont, and laid them low with arrows.The mighty thunderer with his “fair-complexioned friends” won the land, the sunlight, and the waters.” (Rig Veda I:100:18.Rg.V.III.34.9)

     The ancient singer praises the god who “destroyed the Dasyans and protected the Aryan colour.”

     Indra is praised for “killing thousands” of the “abject tribes of Dasas”, with his arrow and taking great vengeance,with “murdering weapons.” (Rig Veda IV:28:3-4)

     The sacrificer poured out thanks to his god for “scattering the slave bands of black descent”, and for stamping out ” the vile Dasyan colour.” (Rg.V. II.20.7, II.12.4 ] Rg.V.I.130.8)

    As per the Rig Veda, the Dasyus are “fit to be killed” anytime and any where. Sample the Rigveda , as under :

    1.8.65 Mantra 65 – Indra (Author: Pragatha Kanva)

     Indra, both worlds complained to thee when uttering thy fearful roar, What time thou “smotest Dasyus dead”.

    1.8.87 Mantra 87 – Indra (Authors: Krsna Angiras, Dyumnika Vasistha, Priyamedha Angiras)

     For thou art he, O Indra, wiio stormeth all castles of the foe,”Slayer of Dasyus”, man’s Supporter, Lord of Heaven.

    1.8.66 Mantra 66 – Indra (Author: Kali Pragatha)

     The Vrtra-slayer smote them all as “spokes are hammered” into naves:The Dasyu-killer waxed in might

    1.5.29 Mantra 29 – Agni (Author: Gauriviti Saktya)

     Thou slewest “noseless Dasyus”, with thy weapon, and in their home hostile speakers.