Skip to main content

AfDB meet: Following Chinese, western "land grab" in Africa, Indian corporates seek economic space in continent

Prime Minister Narendra Modi at AfDB meet on May 23
By Rajiv Shah
While there isn’t anything extraordinary for the African Development Bank (AfDB) holding its annual meeting outside the continent, in India, experts believe, through the high profile meet in Gandhinagar, which began on May 22 and ends on May 24, the Government of India is seeking to provide a platform to Indian corporates to invest in African continent, especially in agriculture and mining.
The Gandhinagar gathering is the fourth time the annual meetings hosted by a non-regional member country, after Valencia, Spain, in 2000; Shanghai, China, in 2007; and Lisbon, Portugal, in 2011. In 2018, the AfDB will meet in Busan, Korea.
A senior expert who has been keeping tab on the development, Dr R Sreedhar, director, Environics School of Management Sciences, has told Counterview, the AfDB’s Gandhinagar meet is taking place when several African countries are becoming “wary” of China’s and the western countries' “land grab” in the continent.
According to him, “It is no secret that India wants as much economic space it can garner through all the mechanisms possible and do all the dirty things that corporates and hegemonies do.”
Africa accounts for about 60% of the world’s arable land, and most of its countries do not achieve 25% of their potential yield. No wonder, therefore, that there has been an increased interest on large-scale investment in land in Africa under the pretext of developing its agriculture.
The senior expert, who is also managing trustee of of Environics Trust, a top environmental advocacy group, says, “That’s why you find them investing in mining, telecom and oil and often in areas of conflict (Nigeria, South Sudan, Angola). Perhaps Indian state is concerned that China has so much surplus to invest that it has to enable AfDB and also find such filial nexus!”
Dr R Sreedhar
Not without reason, says Sreedhar, key discussions at the Gandhinagar meet are supposed to focus how to leverage agriculture and energy, leadership for agricultural transformation, creative energy solutions to boost African agriculture, innovative financing for agriculture, and financing African infrastructure.
According to Sreedhar, holding the meet in Gandhinagar has yet another focus – to ensure that civil society and experts do not make a huge issue out of the corporate world’s towards land grab in Africa.
Citing a civil society letter, signed by 111 NGOs, to the European Union France, which are trying to take advantage of the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI), Sreedhar says, there is already dismay that the AREI’s agenda – to “prioritise the needs of African people, in particular the poor, and contribute to sustainable development through policies and projects that engage with civil society groups and other stakeholders from the outset” – is being undermined.
Pointing out that AREI, which is part of the UN’s climate change initiative, was premised on “strong environmental and social criteria to ensure activities meet community needs, avoid land grabs, environmental harm and human rights violations”, the letter accuses EC and France or pushing their own agenda.
Doubting, in this context, that any civil society organizations were called at the Gandhinagar meet, Ashok Shrimali, general secretary, Mines, Minerals & People (MM&P), AfDB says, one of its focus areas is “energy and coal mining”, in which several Indian, including Gujarat-based tycoons, are seeking to make big inroads worldwide, including in Africa.
Taking a similar view, Debi Goenka, founder, Conservation Action Trust, believes, by holding the meet in Gandhinagar, and not in Delhi, the whole effort of the Government of India is to ensure that there isn’t any diplomatic intervention, on one hand, and civil society influence, on the other.
“Civil society in Gujarat does not really exist in the true sense of the word”, Goenka comments.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Govt of India appears to be working for the corporates only

TRENDING

Noam Chomsky, top scholars ask NRIs to take stand on human rights violations in India

Counterview Desk
Renowned world scholars, including Noam Chomsky, James Petras, Angela Davis, Fredric Jameson, Bruno Latour, Ilan Pappe, Judith Butler, among others, have issued a statement castigating the Narendra Modi government for allegedly creating an environment of fear through arrests, intimidation and violence.

Actionable programme for 2019 polls amidst lynch mobs, caste violence, hate mongering

Counterview Desk
Reclaiming the Republic, a civil rights network, has released a document prepared under the chairmanship of Justice AP Shah (retired) -- and backed, among others, by Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan, bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander, economist Prabhat Patnaik, Right to transparency activist Anjali Bhardwaj and social scientist Yogendra Yadav  (click HERE for full list) -- with the "aim" of putting forth policy and legislative reforms needed to “protect” and “strengthen” the Constitutional safeguards for India’s democratic polity.

India under Modi "promoted" crony business, protected financial fraudsters, fueled bigotry

By Sandeep* and Rahul Pandey**
Narendra Modi's ascension to power was accompanied with jubilation and expectation. His supporters were expecting an end to era of corruption and initiation of good governance which was described as Achche Din. His party's adherence to idea of nationalism was believed to make India a vibrant country and guide India to be a world leader. He gave the slogan of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' conveying that his government was for all.
Corruption The government system is infested with corruption. A minimum of 10% is siphoned off from government schemes and projects, some of which goes back to political party in power and remaining is pocketed by various administrative, executive and political functionaries. This corruption continues and has increased. Now an additional Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) person working as Official on Special Duty or some equivalent position in every government department also has a share in this booty.
The Narendra M…

Inviting Rajapaksa to India "insult" to 1,40,000 Tamils killed by Sri Lankan army

Counterview Desk
In the context of Sri Lankan opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa being invited in India, about 75 human rights activists*, claiming to be concerned about rights violations during the civil war in Sri Lanka, especially in 2009, have joined together to express their dissent through a statement.

Modi wants Pak govt be held responsible for JeM terror strike: World doesn't agree

By Sandeep Pandey*
I went to participate in a candle light homage paying event at Dr BR Ambedkar's statue organised by about 200 Dalit students on Hazratganj main crossing in Lucknow on February 16, 2019 evening, two days after the dastardly terrorist act in Pulwana, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), in which 44 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel was killed.

Post-advisory, Govt of India appears reluctant to ban e-cigarettes, "harmful" to kids

By Rajiv Shah
Is the Government of India dilly-dallying over the issue of banning e-cigarettes, which have been declared by anti-tobacco activists across the world as providing “an entryway to nicotine addiction”, especially among the kids? It would seem so, if the latest developments are any guide.

A Godse legacy? BJP rulers have "refrained" from calling Gandhi Father of the Nation

By Dr Hari Desai*
What an agony! On one hand, the entire India is celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but on the other side, so-called Hindu Mahasabha members have been found mock-enacting the killing of the Mahatma and celebrating the murder by distributing sweets!

No aadhaar, no ration? Hard blow by Gujarat govt on poor and marginalized

By Pankti Jog*
Only those who have aadhaar registration and linked it with ration card will get ration from a Public Distribution System (PDS) shop. This decision of the Gujarat government has hit very badly thousands of poor and marginalized communities of Gujarat, especially during the drought year.

Not just Indian women engineers, men too face sexual harassment at workplace: US study

By Rajiv Shah
A recent research, carried out jointly by two US-based non-profit organizations, Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and Center for WorkLife Law (WLL), based at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, has found that 45% of women engineers as against 28% of men engineers complained that it was perceived as “inappropriate when women argued at work, even when it was work-related.”

Anti-liquor march: Women padyatris "resolve" to occupy Karnataka state assembly

By Abhay, Swarna Bhat*
At a huge public convention held at Siddaganga Mutt on the Republic Day, January 26, 2019, in the presence of Sanehalli Sri Panditaradhya Swamiji, padyatris of the Madya Nishedha Andolana decided to intensify the ongoing liquor ban movement. A resolution passed at the convention, in which thousands of rural women joined in, the marching women declared that on reaching Bengaluru will “occupy Vidhan Soudha” on Mahatma Gandhi’s martyrdom day, January 30.