India, UAE can help transform Africa: Kamal Nath

April 25th, 2008 - 3:57 pm ICT by admin  

By Aroonim Bhuyan
Dubai, April 25 (IANS) India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) can together help bring about a transformation in Africa in the 21st century, according to Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath. “This is the early part of the 21st century - we are only in the eighth year - and the world’s massive economic activity has shifted from the West to the East and will also shift to Africa,” Nath said in the course of a speech on ‘India and the Gulf: New Engagements in the 21st Century’ here Thursday night.

“It is a great opportunity for India and the UAE to transform Africa because we understand Africa, the West doesn’t understand Africa,” said Kamal Nath, who was on an official two-day visit to the UAE.

Lauding Dubai and the UAE for their economic development, he said: “You have demonstrated to the world what vision is all about, commitment is all about.”

At the same time, he said, India has disproved many predictions about its future.

“We have disproved predictions by the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and the World Bank who said India would not recover after independence,” he said.

“In the last 15 years, we’ve had six governments, five prime ministers but just one economic policy,” he said amid thunderous applause. “We are creating more jobs in the US than the US is creating in India.”

According to Nath, as of April 2008, India’s global trading engagements were worth $550 billion.

At the same time challenges remain, he said. “Despite the big telecom boom, 25,000 villages in India have not heard the ring of a telephone. That is the paradox within which India’s transformation is taking place.”

As for economic ties between India and the UAE, he said: “We are talking here about our relationship in the 21st century. But remember, our ties go back to centuries.”

The minister said that during his meeting with the Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum here Wednesday, he mentioned the role Indians had played, however small, in Dubai’s development.

Earlier, welcoming the gathering, Hisham Al Shirawi, vice-chairman of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that relations between India and the Gulf have reached a very mature level.

“We don’t have oil, which is why we need you, the business community to work in a very encouraging atmosphere that we have crated for you,” he said while lauding the Indian community for its contributions to Dubai’s development.

Citing official figures, he said 12,118 Indian companies were operating in Dubai.

Dwelling on Indo-UAE economic ties, he said: “Just as you need our cooperation, we need your cooperation.”

Speaking on the occasion, India’s ambassador to the UAE, Talmiz Ahmad, said India-UAE relations had to be seen within three realities: India’s formulation of a policy for economic engagement with the Gulf, India’s growth as an economic power, and the negative realities as well.

“We’ve forces at work which have totally agitated against a peaceful world order,” he said.

At the same time, Ahmad said, Asia cannot accept neo-imperialism. “We in Asia should work for a future that promises us freedom without hegemony,” he said.

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