Sunday, 4 June, 2023

India-Africa partnership essential for regional peace: Rajnath

India, Africa face common threats of terrorism, says Indian army chief

PUNE: Indian Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said India and Africa are maritime neighbours and their cooperation in maritime security and hydrography, and countering terrorism and extremism will be essential for the regional peace and prosperity, reports NDTV.

Rajnath was addressing India-Africa Army Chiefs’ Conclave in Pune.

On this occasion, he said that moving beyond training programs and support, Joint Exercises between India and African Nations provide an excellent opportunity for Indian armed forces to learn from each other and promote interoperability. 

The second edition of AFINDEX is reflective of our continued focus on African nations, to develop capacities in line with a shared vision and enhance mutual capabilities. As many as 31 African nations have participated in the Conclave.

India and Africa share a rich history, across millennia. Even from the perspective of the entire humanity, he added.

"We have to seize the opportunity to turn this huge human resource into an engine of growth and development. Many African nations have the fastest rate of growth of population in the world," he said.

"Our exchanges of ideas and practices will not be one-way affairs. We would also like to learn from the experiences of our African friends. I distinctly remember, the good work done in Kenya, towards financial inclusion through Mobile banking. I am sure there would be many more such initiatives in India and Africa, where we can learn from each other," he said.

“A competent and responsible defence mechanism is one of the most important pillars of a strong and secure state system. Needless to say that in this defence mechanism, the Armed Forces, and especially the Army, plays a key role,” he further said.

In order to proceed on the path of development, African states have to become stronger and more capable in general, particularly so in the defence domain. That is, the African states need capable and responsible Armed Forces, Mr Singh added.

"Our training programs cover a wide range of areas, including counter-insurgency operations, peacekeeping, maritime security and specialized training in new domains such as cyber warfare and Drone operations, he stated.

"The training goes beyond conventional subjects and also encompasses training civilians in areas such as disaster management, humanitarian aid and medical assistance. A large number of African Countries' Armed Forces' personnel continue to visit India for training in different areas," the Defence minister said.

While addressing the conclave, Chief of Army Staff of India General Manoj Pande said strengthening mutual capabilities in combating terrorism was one of the 10 guiding principles for cooperation with Africa announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, reports NDTV.

"We face common threats of terrorism and violent extremism that have the potential to adversely affect our development goals. Strengthening our cooperation and mutual capabilities in combating terrorism and extremism was one of the 10 guiding principles for cooperation with Africa announced by the PM in 2018," he said.

He further added that Indian armed forces have been actively involved in a number of United Nations peacekeeping missions in Africa since 1965.

"As one of the largest group contributors, Indian armed forces have been actively involved in a number of United Nations peacekeeping missions in Africa since 1965. Out of the six Indian Army battalions deployed on UN missions currently are in Africa," said the Chief of Army.

"Together, India and Africa represent one-third of humanity and the Indian diaspora spread across 46 countries in Africa accounts for approximately 12.5 per cent of the total Indian diaspora worldwide. These large numbers are reflective of the vast potential for cooperation between us in various fields," he added.

The Army Chief said that the relationship between the defence forces of India and Africa is a vital component of that overarching partnership between the regions.

"Our collective experience can help us to be better prepared for emerging security threats. Many African armies have the experience in operating in difficult and challenging operational environments and can offer valuable insights into their tactics, techniques and procedures," he said.

The Army Chief also shed light on the joint exercise with the African Armies and said that the aim is to increase prospects of mutual learning and capability enhancement.

"I'm sanguine that the Indian defence industry can contribute towards building the capacity of African defence industries and also create opportunities for Indian companies to expand their reach in the region. Collaborative approach in defence manufacturing will be a win-win situation for India-Africa cooperation," he said.

Exuding confidence in India's Defence manufacturing he said that the counties

manufacturing industry is expected to be one of the key drivers of our fast-growing economy.

"We, therefore, aim to nurture a vibrant and world-class defence manufacturing industry in the country. To achieve this goal our government has undertaken far-reaching reforms in the last few years aimed at creating a business-friendly environment," he said.

Hoping that the Conclave would be a landmark event in improving India, and Africa defence relations, he said, "Together we can overcome any challenge and create a better world for ourselves and for our future generations."

The second edition of the Africa-India Field Training Exercise (AFINDEX- 2023) between India and 23 nations of the African continent commenced on March 21, at Foreign Training Node, Aundh, Pune.

The exercise anticipates regional unification between Africa and India for everyone in the region's growth and security (SAGAR).