More media linkages needed between India, Africa: Pranab

April 3rd, 2008 - 11:13 pm ICT by admin  

(Lead)

New Delhi, April 3 (IANS) External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee Thursday urged the Indian and African media to build greater “self-sustaining” linkages to promote the partnership that will be the focus of the forthcoming summit between India and 14 African countries. Addressing the valedictory session of the first India-Africa Editors’ Conference, Mukherjee said African nations with their own above-average rates of growth and the huge potential of their economies are ideal partners for India today.

The day-long conference brought together senior journalists from the two sides to brainstorm and find ways to create greater media linkages to fashion a more contemporary economic and strategic partnership between India and Africa.

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

He pointed out that India’s development assistance to African nations has a strong focus on empowerment of people through capacity building and connectivity.

“A multi-pronged approach has been adopted, which combines creative use of Lines of Credits with the deployment of Indian expertise to create assets in Africa and to establish high-tech projects. The development of local skills is part of all such projects,” said the external affairs minister.

He also pointed out that a large number of trainees from several African nations, who have studied in India under the Indian Technical and Educational Cooperation Programme, also strengthen the spirit of partnership.

He called upon the participating editors from 14 African nations and their Indian counterparts to “continue the process that has been started by this conference and build linkages which can become self-sustaining and permanent”.

With its overarching theme as building bridges and connecting cultures, the conference generated suggestions and ideas for removing mutual misperceptions and creating a more vigorous dialogue on issues of concern to both sides like democracy, development, poverty and a host of other developmental challenges.

Both Indian and African journalists agreed on the need to have a greater presence of journalists in each other’s territory so that issues and events are reported in the right context though they now have to depend upon Western media sources. The need for a mutually empowering partnership between Indian and African media was also discussed exhaustively.

Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma set the tone for the conference by saying a rising India and a resurgent Africa can script a “new chapter” in their relationship by collaborating in areas ranging from food security, energy security to health security and fight against climate change.

Inaugurating the conference ahead of the India-Africa summit April 8-9 here, Sharma underlined that India was only intensifying a relationship that was sustained by exchanges over millennia and shared experiences of colonisation.

Sharma said the summit would focus on four identified areas of food security, health security, energy security and climate change.

“These issues cannot be de-coupled from each other. For example, food security affects the health of population, or energy security with the use of renewable resources 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.

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.

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