Must engage better with diaspora in Africa: India IncOctober 1st, 2010 - 9:01 pm ICT by IANS
By Lakshmi Krishnakumar
Durban, Oct 1 (IANS) Corporate India Friday underlined the need for much better economic engagement with people of Indian origin in Africa at a well-attended event to mark the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the first indentured labourers here from India.
Organised by India’s ministry of overseas Indian affairs, the business event was a part of the larger Pravasi Bharatiya Divas-Africa to coincide with the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, who was himself a resident of this city.
The South African government, the provincial government of KwaZulu-Natal, as also the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) were the partners of this event, with the central theme: ‘Building Bridges’.
“India already shares strong political ties with South Africa. We need to strengthen our economic ties with the Indian diaspora in Africa,” A. Didar Singh, secretary, ministry of overseas Indian affairs, here for Pravasi Bharatiya Divas-Africa, told IANS.
“The Indian diaspora can play a major role in building bridges and India intends to take its diaspora affairs to a global level,” Singh said at the event, which supplements the main Pravasi Bharatiya Divas held in India every year.
Representing the South African government, member of executive council for transport and community safety and liaison of KwaZuluNatal Thembinkosi Willies Mchunu appreciated the role played by the Indian diaspora in its contribution to the South African economy.
South Africa is home to 1.28 million people of Indian origin and constitute around 2.5 percent of its population. Gandhi himself lived here for 21 years since 1893 and it was here that the seeds of nis non-violent movement were sown and practiced first.
“This year marks the 150th anniversary of the arrival of Indians here. No one community can claim it got democracy for South Africa. Indians have left a remarkable legacy with their contributions to the freedom struggle and building our economy,” Mchunu said.
The event also showcased the links between corporate India and the Indian diaspora here, like the Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed Keaton Energy Holdings, represented by Ramun Mahadevey.
“The Abhijeet Group is my Indian partner,” Mahadevey said, referring to the Ranchi-based Indian engineering company. “We will like to partner Indian enterprises in the mining sector. We are negotiating with more companies in India,” he told IANS.
The four-hour-long business roundtable saw active participation of nearly 50 registered participants - and many more in attendance - to discuss various business opportunities. Another session is scheduled Saturday.
The main event is to be inaugurated jointly late Friday by KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize and Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi, which will be followed by a cultural programme by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and gala dinner.
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