New Delhi: The Third India Africa Forum Summit began on Monday, with the senior officials of India and the African Union, comprising 54 African countries, meeting to finalise the deliverables and the declarations to be put before the foreign ministers and leaders.
On the first of the four-day-long IAFS, officials put the finishing touches to the main outcome documents for the mega diplomatic event.
“They are negotiating two documents. One is a political document which will talk of the political partnership between India and Africa. It will touch upon global and regional issues. The other one is going to be a framework document of cooperation which will talk about the development partnership of Africa, line of credit by India to African nations,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup told reporters.
Proceedings at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium went smoothly despite the earthquake.
“People who were outside the building felt the earthquake, but those who were inside the venue did not. They were having lunch, so maybe the Indian food made them feel very content,” joked MEA additional secretary Syed Akbaruddin.
On Tuesday, the summit will see interactions at the level of foreign ministers, with the plenary meeting scheduled to be held on October 29.
External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj will also hold a series of bilateral meetings with counterparts from Ghana, Congo, Cameron, Malawi and Zimbabwe, among others.
Chief coordinator of the summit Akbaruddin indicated that India will be focussing on capacity buillding and human resources as the major ‘deliverables’ “We stand for human resources in Africa…the most important element in any society. Any other resources are peripheral to our engagement. Our engagement with Africa is in terms of human resources, people-to-people contact, exchange of ideas, capacity building where and African can gain,” he said.
Representatives of 54 African nations, including heads of state and government of around 40 countries and the powerful African Union, are expected to participate in the summit.
India’s trade with Africa is valued at USD 75 billion. India has granted a whopping USD7.4 billion for various developmental and capacity building projects, and has implemented 137 projects in 41 African countries in the past four years. “We will have a cultural component in the inaugural ceremony, which has not happened in the last two Summits. This will exhibit some of the traditions and cultures of India and also the brand new India, and how that new India can partner with a resurgent Africa,” Akbaruddin said.
Sartorial diplomacy: modi Kurta for all
• Raw silk waistcoats and kurtas, wrapped in plastic, and labelled by country-names, were handed over to MEA officials to be passed on to the heads of states at the third India Africa Forum Summit
• The outfits were designed in contrasting, but complementary, colours. For example, the Kenyan leader will get to wear a beige-coloured waistcoat, over a pink-patterned long kurta
• The Modi jackets-kurtas will be worn by the leaders at the dinner hosted by President Pranab Mukherjee on Oct 29
Fashion, food and First Ladies
African First Ladies will get a taste of Indian fashion, cuisine and history. A separate plan has been hatched for the 20-odd spouses accompanying the African leaders. They will be given tips on how to cook Indian delicacies, besides being provided a trip to historical monuments and exposure to Benarasi handlooms. They will also interact with ‘Solar Grandmothers’ from Africa, who are being trained at Barefoot college in Tilona in Rajasthan.
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