South African minister lauds India’s efforts in apartheid struggle

August 16th, 2008 - 3:11 pm ICT by IANS  

By Fakir Hassen
Pretoria, Aug 16 (IANS) South African Minister of Arts and Culture Pallo Jordan has lauded the pioneering efforts of India in the country’s fight against apartheid. He also said India had emerged as a valuable business partner for South Africa and was playing a major role in the country as well as in the continent.

“When India regained her independence in 1947, the government of India was the first to raise the issue of institutionalised racism in South Africa at the United Nations,” Jordan said at the Indian Independence Day celebrations hosted here Friday by High Commissioner Rajiv Bhatia.

“From that day on, until we won our freedom (in 1994), India was at the forefront of the global struggle to end that system of racial oppression. We shall always be most grateful for that outstanding contribution.”

Jordan said this was an “inevitable consequence” of the fact that Mahatma Gandhi had started his fight against oppression during his tenure in South Africa a century ago: “It is here in South Africa that Gandhi evolved his theory of Satyagraha and put into practise the tactics of non-violent resistance to oppression.”

Jordan said the two countries were committed to strengthening and deepening links at all levels because of their special relationship.

“Our cooperation extends to a number of fronts - bilateral, regional and global. There is notable meeting of minds on many of the issues and challenges facing our respective communities, especially poverty alleviation and underdevelopment.

“South Africa has been the beneficiary in a number of training programmes offered by India. Both the private and public sectors of India have offered keen support to the skills transfer to South African participants.”

Besides its emergence as a valuable business partner for South Africa, in a wide variety of sectors, India was also playing a major role on the continent: “Continued discussions between India and SACU (Southern African Customs Union) countries are indicators that commercial and economic ties stand to grow and prosper well into the future. We welcome India’s interest and involvement in Africa through such forums as SADC (Southern African Development Community) -India Forum and the Africa-India Summit.”

Reaffirming that India had emerged as an important source of foreign direct investment for South Africa, Jordan said Indian investments in South Africa had grown “in quantity as well as diversity”, singling out Tata’s ventures in vehicles, information technology and ferrochrome; Mahindra and Mahindra, Ranbaxy and CIPLA.

“The volume of South African investments in India is smaller, but it is growing. The statistics of South Africa’s trade with India tell us that there is still great potential for expanding the commercial partnership. Avenues for joint ventures in Africa and Asia should also be considered.

Jordan also touched on tourism. “Both our countries could do a great deal more to enhance the numbers of tourists travelling between South Africa and India and vice versa. A significant step in that direction would be the acquisition of landing rights by Air India at Oliver Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.”

Air India had stopped flying to South Africa for economic reasons a few years after becoming one of the first international airlines to come into South Africa post-apartheid.

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