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The (Narendra) Modi government must take stock of the move and ensure that lost ground is made up

New Delhi must channelize the large Indian diaspora in Africa to recast its ties with the continent amid a belligerent China, which has not only increased its grip over the continent for commercial reasons but has also expanded its activities in the Indian Ocean with an aim to becoming a maritime power. Africa is home to three million people of Indian origin.

"New Delhi enjoys a natural advantage because of the people of Indian origin in East Africa. Without delay, the (Narendra) Modi government must take stock of the move and ensure that lost ground is made up," an analyst, who did not wish to be identified, told India Narrative. "New Delhi enjoys a natural advantage because of the people of Indian origin in East Africa. Without delay, the (Narendra) Modi government must take stock of the move and ensure that lost ground is made up," the analyst said.

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India's ties with Tanzania had got a boost after the visit of former President Jakaya Kikwete in 2015. Kikwete visited New Delhi for five days in June 2015. However, engagements between the two countries have been slow since then. Tanzania, which opened a consulate in Hyderabad last month, has sizable natural gas deposits in the Indian Ocean, which India has considered its backyard. "It is estimated that the country has over 46.5 trillion cubic feet of proven natural gas reserves," the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses in a report noted.

Indian Ocean Africa's large Indian population has merged with the society there and New Delhi must cash in on this aspect. Photo by Patrick Maiyo on Unsplash

It also said in the report published earlier that India and Tanzania have a common interest in maritime security. "Looking at the wide range of threats in the maritime sphere such as sea piracy, armed robbery, narcotics trafficking, terrorism, India, has declared maritime security as the top priority. Similarly, there is no doubt that maritime security is an issue of concern for Tanzania," it said.

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So recently, when Tanzania announced that it will revive a $10 billion port project in the town of Bagamoyo on the Indian Ocean regions (IOR) eyebrows were raised. Reason? China is the main project investor. A Nikkei Asia report said that the move has led to speculations over whether China is looking to establish an additional dual-use foothold on the East African coast.

Meanwhile, external affairs minister S Jaishankar's recent visit to Kenya, which shares its borders with Tanzania, underscored the importance India is now attaching to Africa though the intensity of engagement between India and the African countries has slowed down due to the outbreak of the Covid 19 pandemic. "Africa's large Indian population has merged with the society there and New Delhi must cash in on this aspect. It must take them into account to further expand its relations with the African nations. All channels of communication need to be opened up. Using the diaspora is one which can be effectively used," an analyst told India Narrative. (IANS/JC)


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