Delhi, predictably (in that that’s how much MEA/GOI is not clued into trends into mainstream African thinking), is fluffing it even as the grand show Modi is hosting for African countries gets underway. Modi and, only hours before the inaugural session, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj’s emphasis on getting the African bloc to strongly back India’s candidature for a UN Security Council permanent seat by coupling it with the placement of an African nation in the same forum, couldn’t be wronger.
African states, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, are in the gimme mode and are looking for Indian investment in industrial and, its power areas — education and software sectors, and offering their natural resources as inducement and incentive, also as a means of setting up India as a counterweight to China in the extractive industrial sphere. Most of these states don’t give a fig about the UN — nothing but a useless talkshop. They’ll be disinclined and distinctively chary about getting in on this Indian campaign full bore because it will only exacerbate the differences and the divisiveness inherent in choosing between South Africa, Nigeria, and Egypt to represent the continent in the UNSC. They’d rather not get into it, if they can help it. So, for New Delhi to push for a consensus backing for India and an Africa seat makes little sense because even if there’s wide support for India among the African nations, there’s no agreement whatsoever about the African candidate. Here the competition divides up between the states constituting the Muslem North, and the black states south of the Sahara, and then between whom to back — Pretoria or Lagos?
It would have been more sensible for Modi govt to not have made much of this issue, concentrating instead on the mining concessions India can utilize and the related infrastructure projects it can finance, and particularly stress security linkages with offers of military training, exports of Indian made armaments, and establishing the Indian military presence in embryo on the East African littoral.
Then again, there’s no point in expecting anything strategically farsighted from the MEA-directed Indian foreign policy.