Why India should help Africa become United States of Africa

by | Jun 15, 2019

Africa is a continent across the Indian Ocean with great assets, huge opportunities as well as insurmountable challenges. Sixty percent of the land is arable, but uncultivated. There are no systems of intercontinental railways and roadways.  Although there are great rivers, there is no hydro-electricity generation and no waterways. The immense oil reserves are ravaged by violent conflicts. There is no electricity grid, not many hospitals, very few universities and colleges, but millions of immensely talented people waiting to receive higher education and skills. India is a natural partner in all of this and it is indeed its destiny to help Africa rise and take its rightful place in the modern world.

My tryst with Africa naturally started with President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam (1931-2015). In 2004, I was assigned a pivotal role to bring 24 Tanzanian children with congenital heart defects to India for surgery. They were flown free of charge by Air India with their mothers and accompanying doctors and nurses, and operated upon free by Care Hospital. I assisted President Kalam in conceptualizing the Pan-Africa eNetwork and got its fist link operational between Black Lion Hospital, Addis Ababa and Care Hospital, Hyderabad. Later, I met Mahesh Patel (b. 1955), an Indian-African and the Chairman of Export Trading Corporation (ETG), one of the largest and fastest growing integrated agricultural conglomerates present across the African continent, and he made me an integral part of his missions.

Over a span of many years, I went to South Africa, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Ethiopia and the island African nations of Mauritius and Seychelles and am blessed with great friends everywhere. I have read all major books written on Africa, most notably by Basil Davidson (1914-2010), John Reader (b. 1937), Martin Meredith (b. 1942), and Richard Dowden (b. 1949) and felt at heart the term ‘black consciousness’ first used by William Edward Burghardt (W.E.B.) Du Bois (1868-1963). He famously wrote, “After the Egyptian and Indian, the Greek and Roman, the Teuton and Mongolian, the Negro is a sort of seventh son,…”

I see African people as ‘different but equal’. They are our natural neighbours and our most trusted allies in the post-western world. India and Africa will rise together in the emerging parallel order – New Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (to complement the World Bank), Universal Credit Rating Group (to complement Moody’s and S&P), RuPay (to complement Mastercard and Visa), CIPS (to complement SWIFT), and the BRICS (to complement the G7). Many other Indian success stories can be repeated in Africa. HAL and Tatas can be Africa’s aviation partners; ONGC and Reliance, oil partners; ISRO, their space partner; BEL, their electronics partner; BHEL, the hydro-electricity partner; NPCIL, the Nuclear Electricity partner; and NABARD, NSC and IFFCO, their agriculture partners.

The dream of the United States of Africa belongs to Jamaican-born African-American Marcus Garvey Jr. (1887–1940). Almost single-handedly, he created a ‘Back to Africa’ movement in the United States of his times, touring the country and urging African-Americans to be proud of their race and return to Africa.  In his poem ‘Hail! United States of Africa’ published in 1924, Marcus Garvey wrote:

Hail! United States of Africa-free!
Hail! Motherland most bright, divinely fair!
State in perfect sisterhood united,
Born of truth; mighty thou shalt ever be…
From Liberia’s peaceful western coast
To the foaming Cape at the southern end,
There’s but one law and sentiment sublime, One flag, and its emblem of which, we boast…

Africa in the 21st century ought to mean a Pan-African economy, at par with the European Union – the United States of Africa would operate under one Schengen-like visa, one African currency and free intra-trade system across the continent. Through my hundreds of interactions with African people over a decade and travels in the continent, I have realized that Africa has much more to give to the world and to the people than it has taken or would ever take from others. India can indeed beat the drum and lead the parade, when Africa marches on to become USA-2.

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3 Comments

  1. Prof Tiwari, the prosperity of our continent is at the center of your heart.

    As the group lead of the very first team to learn the science and practice the art of open heart surgery in Tanzania, I thank God for the visionary leadership of the Third Phase Government of the United Republic of Tanzania H E Benjamin W Mkapa who reached out to then Indian President HE Dr A P J Abdul Kalam and asked him to help address the problem of managing cases of various Heart ailments in many children who then had to be taken out of the Country for treatment, in the same breath the need to grow professionals with the knowledge and skills of treating such conditions locally was addressed. This helped build our sustainability model to deal with heart ailments and improved on our health systems. ‘learn how to fish instead of only being given the fish”.

    Truly the 24 Children were blessed with the world class interventions to their cardiac conditions under the hand of Dr Gopichand Mannam and the watchful care of Dr Srilamulu Sompali in the ICU (Anaesthesia) and the entire Cardiology Team at CARE Hospital that those children returned to Tanzania smiling with a new lease of life.

    The Core Team composed of Doctors (Surgeons, Physicians, Paediatricians, Anaesthesiologists), Nurses, Perfusionists and Biomedical Technicians, stayed in the Hospital for the duration varying from one to Two years. CARE Hospital offered such opportunities as would enable us to learn and practice that when the two years were ended a vibrant program was started in Tanzania, which led to the establishment of the Cardiac Centre at the National Hospital. Currently the Semi-autonomous Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute.

    The 24 Patients who benefited from the kind gesture of Indian Governement under the coordination of Prof Tiwari, a drop in the ocean it was, as thousands of other cardiac patients (children and adults) were left behind some with no hope of being treated which through the efforts was resolved. Access to treatment was made available locally.

    India as a Country did not start where it is today, a big lesson to all in the world, also India has not had all the resources to meet the population needs at home, this fact did not prevent them from teaching us in the Third World struggling to catch up with the developed world. Knowing what it means to be destitute of means, creates a fit model for teaching others how to walk the journey to where India is today without sacrificing sovereignty, Africa especially.

    Africa has had historical links with the Indian Subcontinent predating colonial times, which was enhanced by the colonial rulers who brought with them thousands of Indians as labourers during Railway construction projects but also settling in such places as Kwazulu Natal in South Africa. There is practically no Country in Africa that is not home to people of Indian extraction. This just emphasizes the need to enhance the strong bond existing between Africa and India.

    The 29 India’s State and the 7 Union Territories harmoniously existing under one government, is a model for the Countries of Africa to consider under the Africa Union Umbrella, we may speak different languages like the people of India, borrowing a leaf from them won’t harm our existence as the people of Africa, where we too could adopt a Language say ‘Kiswahili’ for the Official engagement in the continent without forgetting/ignoring our tribal/familial dialects, this will truly glue more than 1.3 Billion inhabitants and forge ahead in developing the mother continent. India could catalyse the process.

    That India should help Africa become a United States of Africa is a need that should have been addressed yesterday!

    Indeed together we can…

  2. “Why India should help Africa become United States of Africa” did give me an insight of good minds and helping hands. Has India as a country benefited from enlightened leadership? Corporate titans celebrate the ruling governments because cronyism thrives. RBI lost fighting a just war against the cronies. the victim finally gave up and left for a better place. our’s is a democracy where nobody dares to blow the whistle on dirty endless games, be it extending bad loans, be it the unjust corporate land grabbing, be it the risky and expensive nuclear projects, be it the hydrocarbon projects that destroys fertile delta, be it the death and disappearances of honest activists and bureaucrats and many more. So Africa partnering with Indian companies will mean exploitation of their resources to the extent of losing them.
    The main theme of the African Union Summit 2017 was ‘Boosting Intra-African Trade’. Since the future of intra-African trade and investment looks bright, Indian expertise can help this rich and large continent develop favourable trade programmes that will boost import and export opportunities to Africa, from Africa.
    while Indians are deliberating and debating day in and day out about the quality of Indian leadership in the establishment of democratic process and it’s success, there are few heroes who help us hold our head high and Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam is one. He transcended beyond borders and man made barriers to see, learn and do good thereby motivating others to follow his path.
    Sir, your article reveals the enthusiasm and yearning in you to ‘Reach Out’ . May Marcus Garvey’s light shine bright and lead his country men towards prosperity and peace.

  3. Nice thoughts and words should be accompanied by actions. And a willing heart is an essential element in most beautiful stories of empathy. Am not surprised finding CARE Hospital, Hyderabad, in your write up because of the many doctors I’ve known, Dr B Soma Raju is one of a kind. If he is capable of doing a good thing, he neither postpones it nor will let anything stop him from doing it. Such is his personality. He is not just a generous human but one who wants to make sure his generosity makes a big difference. My association with you and Care Hospital is a blessing because I know missions that involve healing are great acts of kindness. Doctors who mend hearts for the sake of humanity should be engaged in missions as these. Since this world encompasses a major share of the downtrodden and less fortunate, it’s our bounden duty to ease someone else’s pain.

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