India, Africa to intensify relationship: Anand Sharma

April 3rd, 2008 - 3:29 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, April 3 (IANS) A rising India and a resurgent Africa are to script a “new chapter” in their relationship by collaborating in areas ranging from food security to climate change. Inaugurating the first India-Africa Editor’s conference ahead of the India-Africa summit next week, Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma underlined that India was only intensifying a relationship that was sustained by exchanges over millennia and shared experiences of colonisation.

Senior editors from Africa and India from the print, radio and television media attended the forum, which was held around the theme of “Building Bridges, Connecting Cultures”.

The forum was organised by the external affairs ministry and (IANS).

Sharma said the summit would focus on four identified areas of food security, health security, energy security and climate change. “These issues cannot be decoupled from each other. For example, food security affects the health of population or energy security with the use of renewable influences the climate change debate,” said Sharma.

The minister said that Africa’s story as a resurgent region, with some of the fastest growing economies in the world and nascent democracies, needed to be told to India directly and not through western eyes.

While both African countries and India have come a long way, Sharma said that they still face the daunting challenges of poverty, hunger and pandemics.

“We are willing to do much more than we have done in the last five decades, share our technology, experience, resources and partners of development,” said the minister.

He pointed out that India’s project to bridge the digital divide in Africa through the Pan-African e-project for telemedicine and distance education has taken off, with a dedicated satellite already connecting 29 countries.

He spoke about Mahatma Gandhi’s transformation in Africa, where he forged his tools of philosophy and struggles, by which he took on the mightiest empire in the world.

IANS chief editor Tarun Basu said that global media coverage of Africa has been dominated by the four C’s - conflict, crisis, catastrophe and controversy. “The story of resurgent Africa is not getting the coverage that it deserves in the Indian media space,” he said.

Concerted measures were required to be discussed to bridge the information and knowledge gap between India and Africa, Basu added.

He suggested that the Indian diaspora living in several African countries could be an effective link in bridging the communication gap.

Fourteen editors from 14 countries participating in the summit, representative of the various regions and groups of the vast 54-nation continent, are here on the familiarisation trip.

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