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Visit of the Tanzanian National Defence College Delegation

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  • June 11, 2014
    Round Table

    A nineteen member delegation from the Tanzanian National Defence College visited the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) on June 11, 2014. The Africa, Latin America & UN Centre at the institute organised an interactive session with them. The visiting delegation, headed by Maj Gen Festo Ndewiro Ulomi (Retd), was briefed about the internal security system of India and India’s Engagement with Africa, followed by queries and discussion. The members of the delegation expressed their keen interest in the security dynamics of India and the lines India is engaged with Africa, particularly Tanzania.

    The IDSA team comprised Brig Rumel Dahiya (Retd), Ms Ruchita Beri, and Cdr. Abhijit Singh. The team briefed the delegation about India’s security system and its relationship with the immediate neighbourhood and the rest of the world with a focus on India’s challenges and responses to the current scenario.

    India’s general security scenario

    India shares a healthy relationship with most of the countries across the globe, for which it is seen as a benign nation in the international arena. The increasing threat of terrorism and disturbing repercussions of the Arab Spring are seen as huge challenges for the world and majorly for India as it has been the focal point of terrorist activities. Besides dangers of terrorism, Naxalite-Maoist insurgencies and the spread of internal violence in the realm of internal security, the issues of extreme poverty and unemployment among large sections of the Indian society are observed as major concerns for the whole nation.

    Following the 1962 Sino-Indian War, the relationship between India and China has been characterised by border disputes, arms race on the one hand and growing trade, cultural and diplomatic ties on the other. Meanwhile, India has been vigilant about China’s strong support to Pakistan and China’s hostile behaviour with Vietnam and Taiwan.

    Despite shared cultural trends and geographical features, the viewpoints of India and Pakistan are different in terms of global vision and perspectives. In spite of the confidence building measures (CBMs) taken between India and Pakistan, a fatigue has developed between the two countries due to the persisting problem of Jihadi elements being used by Pakistan for meeting its strategic ends. India feels that the best way both the nations can grow is by developing healthy bilateral relationship.
    India showcases good relations with the SAARC countries, being a contributor for economic and other assistance. The foreign policy of India, based on the principles of Non-Alignment, has made India an amicable nation which has been reciprocal to the countries in need, providing them with expertise and help. India has also been a major supporter of the democratisation process in South Asia but never intends to ‘export’ it.

    India has been a huge investor in Afghanistan in terms of contributing to develop infrastructure and setting up NGOs working towards capacity-building among the people. At the same time, Iran has also been very important due to its significant presence in the geopolitical arena and for future strategic interests. Trade relations between India and West Asia are of remarkable importance, as India has been engaged in high level interactions with the West Asian countries, particularly UAE. However, the oil-rich West Asian region affects India in terms of energy security which is an alarming issue for the country.

    The Look East Policy, strong cultural linkages and the exuberant development of trade between India and Southeast Asia have all been positive facets of India’s relations with the Southeast Asian countries.

    Looking at the long on-going friendship between Russia and India, there are no security challenges that both the nations face from one another. Russia has always been a major supporter of India due to commonality of issues and circumstances, in spite of minor differences with regard to non-agreement on certain issues.

    Indo-US relations are based on the common virtues of liberalism, democracy, equality and other fundamental principles. Starting from the British colonial times in India, the relationship between the two countries has been a strategic partnership at a multilateral level, ranging from the Nuclear Agreement to US being supportive of India on many world fora.
    The new issues of prime importance for the Indian security system are water scarcity, climate change and cyber & space security.

    Maritime Security Environment

    Three paramount realities have emerged in the maritime framework. First, the shift of economic power from the West to East affects the maritime security environment. Second, the governance mechanisms and effective methods for safeguarding the Indian Ocean Region are of high priority while addressing the challenges faced in the maritime realm; exerting increased pressure on defence budgets of the powers in the region. Third, the Indian Ocean littoral states are claiming higher status in the region.
    Apart from coastal security, the emerging new challenges are human trafficking and drug trade that need attention. The “Maritime Silk Route” model of China can be viewed, in the long run, as a strategy to establish its military presence in region. The legality of the issues of repeated violent attacks on fishermen and floating armouries have to be looked into more attentively. Lastly, joint-naval exercises, maritime agreements, trade and energy cooperation are all positive features in the maritime domain. Alongside, the future prospects of Indo-Africa maritime partnership can be seen if Africa is provided with higher assistance and aid for development.

    India’s engagement with Africa

    India’s engagement with Africa is unique and is based on mutual cooperation. Three levels of the engagement process can be chalked out:

    • Bilateral relationship, dating back to the ancient times, wherein India established its trade relations with Africa long back and has been developing partnership on common grounds of economic cooperation and struggle against colonialism, poverty, illiteracy and other societal problems.
    • At the regional level, a number of dialogues and interactions on a wide range of issues have been taking place from time to time.
    • Pan-African cooperation, through the India Africa Forum summit process that began in 2008.

    India’s optimistic approach and engagement based on mutual consensus indicate a strong partnership at all the three levels. India views that Africa is one of the fastest growing continent, consisting of rich manpower and fast-developing economies. Beyond trade and investment, India’s partnership with Africa has developed in terms of training, technological advancement and knowledge sharing. The engagement is not limited only to the energy sector; another important aspect is the growth of Indian investment in telecommunication and infrastructure in Africa. India’s emphasis on skill enhancement and increase in human resources by way of providing training in the areas of IT and defence, amongst others, is of utmost importance in order to strengthen the Indo-African partnership. Here an important Indian initiative is the Pan-African e network that provides tele medicine and tele education to various countries across the African continent. Similarly India has also launched an initiative to support the African efforts in developing institutions that will enhance the skills and capacities of the people in the region. In recent years, India has pledged to develop a strong partnership with Africa and has offered to share its own development experience with these countries.
    While India and Africa continue to share strong relations, certain challenges and concerns remain. Political instability and continued conflicts in Sudan, Mali and rise of terrorism in Nigeria and Somalia are issues of concern. From the Tanzanian perspective India has always been a close friend of Africa, however in recent years, other external powers such as China have adopted aggressive strategies to develop closer cooperation with Africa. African countries hope that India speeds up the delivery of its development assistance to the continent.

    Major points raised during discussion:

    • Indo-Pak relations, the current state of conflict and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.
    • The nuclear potentiality between India and Pakistan.
    • Issues of military modernisation.
    • Is the growth of the Chinese maritime forces a challenge for India?
    • India’s participation and engagement in Africa with regard to peacekeeping.
    • India’s prospects for becoming a permanent member of the UNSC.
    • India as a member of BRICS grouping.
    • The nature of India-China relations with regard to the maritime engagement and challenges faced by the prevalence of China.
    • The difference between Indian and Chinese engagements with Tanzania.
    • India’s efforts and strategies in terms of cultural intervention.

    (Report prepared by Smriti Rajan, Research Intern, IDSA, New Delhi)

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