Govt to make big diplomatic push with Africa meet
NEW DELHI: India will join the US, Japan and China to engage the whole of Africa together with the third India-Africa Summit to be held in Delhi in the last week of October, for which all 54 heads of government from the continent has been invited.
It will be India’s biggest diplomatic outreach in the past three decades. For the first time, the foreign ministry will be taking over the Indira Gandhi Stadium in central Delhi for the summit with Vigyan Bhawan, which hosted the 2008 India-Africa Summit unlikely to accommodate such a huge delegation.
The Centre had postponed the India-Africa Summit in December 2014, citing the ongoing Ebola epidemic. While many had criticized the government then, it was also taken at the request of many African leaders who were uncomfortable being at a glittering ceremony while their people battled a deadly virus at home.
Therefore, the summit this year will attempt to put that behind with a massive display of Indian soft power and hospitality. “Innovative” is the mantra for ideas for the summit with some of India’s best diplomats working overtime to make it an international talking point.
For possibly the first time, the government has dispatched Union ministers to different African capitals to personally invite their leaders. While Modi is certain to showcase yoga during the event , many African countries have requested a Bollywood presence, which remains India’s most potent soft power export. One of the more innovative designs is a Twitter Tree – based on the famous Africa Tree of Life, which will keep delegates updated on all the events during the summit. India will also show off some of its green technology with electric vehicles. The summit will deal with issues of energy, skills, health and education, areas where India wants to extend its competence for African countries to utilize.