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Visit of Young Parliamentarians from African Countries to IDSA

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  • March 13, 2014

    Facilitated by the Ministry of External Affairs, a nine member delegation of young parliamentarians from Algeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, South Sudan and Uganda visited the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses on March 13, 2014 for an interaction with Scholars. During the deliberations, following issues were discussed:

    Military and Defence related issues

    The young parliamentarians were very keen to discuss issues related to defence and military. They were interested in knowing the possibility and nature of co-operation between defence establishments of India and Africa. They were interested in the recruitment practices of Indian Army, the possibility of military co-operation with African countries and co-operation in terms of defence equipment and capacity building. Specifically, they wanted to know that how the Indian Military can help in building African militaries capacity to operate military equipment and about the system of monitoring atrocities committed by Armed personnel; the young parliamentarians wanted to know about possibility of co-operation with Indian defence establishments in terms of restructuring of Armed forces especially in countries going through post-conflict transition. The parliamentarians wanted to know whether women are recruited in the Armed Forces in India.

    Deputy-Director General, Brig. Dahiya said that in Indian military, women are present in non-combat roles, although the Central Police Reserve Force has women contingent. Women contingents are also sent as part of United Nations Peace Keeping Force. The DDG pointed out that India and Africa have long standing military co-operation. Indian military has been involved in military training in Lesotho and Botswana. India has established a Military Staff College in Tanzania. Cadets from Ghana, Kenya and Uganda have been coming for training in the Indian Military Academy. There is strong possibility of establishing military training with other countries like South Sudan.

    India-Africa Relations

    Regarding India-Africa relations Ms. Ruchita Beri, Research Fellow and Centre co-ordinator of ALACUN cluster at IDSA, acknowledged that there were historic ties between India and Africa since Independence. India does not view Africa as a hopeless continent and has co-operated with Africa at both bilateral and African Union level. An important facet about Indian co-operation is that it does not come with any conditionality attached to it. Moreover, India attunes its co-operation to suit African requirements. Indian government has provided financial support to African Union Peacekeeping Mission in Somali and African led International Support Mission in Mali. India has supported African counties in defence training and capacity building. Globally there is a rethinking on the definition of “Security”. At present it encompasses both traditional and non-traditional security concerns. In this context, India may enhance its cooperation with African countries in counter–terrorism, energy security and space technology. Dr. G. Balachandran, Senior Research Fellow at IDSA, said that there were excellent historical as well as people to people relations between Africa but they have not fully capitalized it. The knowledge dissemination about Africa in India is done by third parties rather that African themselves.

    IDSA Research

    The parliamentarians were interested in knowing IDSA’s research on issues related to terrorism, militia violence and illegal immigration. The Director General of IDSA, Dr. Arvind Gupta while briefing the delegation on the overall role and functioning of IDSA, touched upon these issues. In relation to terrorism, the Director General said that IDSA has an Internal Security Centre and interacts with various stakeholders to understand the issue of terrorism which includes a project with Ministry of Home Affairs. India has struggled with problem related to militias some of which have operated in India with outside support. India also faces problem of illegal migration which occurs due to economic reasons as well as other reasons like natural calamities and trafficking. IDSA with its engagement with law enforcement agencies attempts to understand the root causes of the problem of illegal migration.

    Report prepared by Nachiket Khadkiwala, Research Assistant, IDSA.