Editorial 1: India’s G-20 opportunity for an African Renaissance


  • By presenting itself as a more participative and less exploitative alternative, India can make its ties with Africa a win-win ecosystem for the 21st century.


  • Like an absentee landlord, Africa is flagging its demands nowadays on multilateral fora such as BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), the G-20 and the United Nations General Assembly.
  • For a continent with 54 countries, over a quarter of the “Global South”, it is populated at BRICS and the G-20 by South Africa, an atypical representative of the Black continent.

Challenges and disruptors

  • Africa, in general, and the Sahel region in particular, are passing through several existential challenges such as misgovernance, unplanned development, the dominance of ruling tribes and corruption.
  • Recently, new disruptors such as the Islamic terror, inter-tribal scrimmage, changing climate, runaway food inflation, urbanisation and youth unemployment have further strained the traditional socio-political fabric.
  • As the past military interventions by France, the United States and Russia’s Wagner Group to curb the militancy have shown, they frequently become part of the problem.
  • These interventions have costs: keeping dictatorships in power to protect their economic interests, such as uranium in Niger, gold in the Central African Republic and oil in Libya.
  • Africa’s problems are further compounded by an erosion in its international support base. China has been Africa’s largest trading partner and investor, but a slowing economy and trade have reduced its appetite for Africa’s commodities.
  • Its Belt and Roads Initiative has raised the debts of some African countries to unsustainable levels, in turn causing them to cede control of some of their assets to China.
  • France, the United Kingdom and other colonial powers as well as the United States have continued to exploit mineral wealth in Africa, but their economic downturn has limited their outreach.

India’s robust ties

  • India’s ties with Africa are deep, diverse and harmonious that range from Mahatma Gandhi’s satyagraha against the apartheid to the UN peacekeeping role.
  • Although we now import less oil from Africa and sell fewer agricultural products, India-Africa trade reached $98 billion in 2022-23.
  • India’s investment and other socio-economic engagements with Africa remain robust, especially in such sectors as education, health care, telecom, IT, appropriate technology and agriculture.
  • India was the fifth largest investor in Africa and has extended over $12.37 billion in concessional loans.
  • India has completed 197 projects and has provided 42,000 scholarships since 2015.
  • Approximately three million people of Indian origin live in Africa, many for centuries. They are Africa’s largest non-native ethnicity.
  • India is well placed to leverage its comprehensive profile with Africa to help the continent either bilaterally or through these multilateral forums.
  • Its hosting of the G-20 Summit will present it with a historic opportunity to up the ante. It could consult like-minded G-20 partners and multilateral institutions for a comprehensive semi-permanent platform to resolve the stalemated security and socio-economic situations in several parts of Africa.

Way forward

  • India should deliver political stability and economic development by combining peacekeeping with socio-political institution building.
  • We can offer force multipliers such as targeted investments and transfer of relevant and appropriate Indian innovations, such as the JAM trinity (Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile), DBT (Direct Benefit Transfer), UPI (Unified Payments Interface), and Aspirational Districts Programme.
  • By offering a more participative and less exploitative alternative, New Delhi can make the India-Africa ecosystem an exemplary win-win paradigm for the 21st century.

Editorial 2: India and the Northern Sea Route


  • Murmansk, popularly called the capital of the Arctic region and the beginning point of the Northern Sea Route (NSR), is witnessing the rising trend of Indian involvement in cargo traffic.

Significance of the  Arctic region  to India

  • The vulnerability of the Arctic region, which is above the Arctic Circle and includes the Arctic Ocean with the North Pole at its centre, to unprecedented changes in the climate may have an impact on India in terms of economic security, water security and sustainability.
  • The region also constitutes the largest unexplored prospective area for hydrocarbons remaining on the Earth as it is estimated that the region may hold over 40 per cent of the current global reserves of oil and gas.
  • There may also be significant reserves of coal, zinc and silver.
  • However, the government’s Arctic Policy of 2022 mentions that the country’s approach to economic development of the region is guided by UN Sustainable Development Goals.

History of India’s engagement with the Arctic

  • India’s engagement with the Arctic can be traced to the signing of the Svalbard Treaty in 1920 in Paris and India is undertaking several scientific studies and research in the Arctic region.
  • This encompasses atmospheric, biological, marine, hydrological and glaciological studies.
  •  Apart from setting up a research station, Himadri, at, Svalbard, in 2008, the country launched its inaugural multi-sensor moored observatory and northernmost atmospheric laboratory in 2014 and 2016 respectively.
  • Till last year, thirteen expeditions to the Arctic were successfully conducted.
  • In May 2013, India became an observer-State of the Arctic Council along with five others including China.

Northern Sea Route

  • The Northern Sea Route (NSR), the shortest shipping route for freight transportation between Europe and countries of the Asia-Pacific region, straddles four seas of the Arctic Ocean.
  • Running to 5,600 km, the route begins at the boundary between the Barents and the Kara seas (Kara Strait) and ends in the Bering Strait (Provideniya Bay).
  • A paper published states that in theory, distance savings along the NSR can be as high as 50% compared to the currently used shipping lanes via Suez or Panama.
  • The 2021 blockage of the Suez Canal, which forms part of the widely-used maritime route involving Europe and Asia, has led to greater attention on the NSR.

Driving factors for India to participate in the NSR development

  • Primarily, the growth in cargo traffic along the NSR is on the constant rise and during 2018-2022, the growth rate was around 73%.
  • With India increasingly importing crude oil and coal from Russia in recent years, the record supplies of energy resources for the Indian economy are possible due to such a reliable and safe transport artery as the NSR.
  • Secondly, the NSR assumes importance, given India’s geographical position and the major share of its trade associated with sea transportation.
  • Thirdly, the Chennai-Vladivostok Maritime Corridor (CVMC) project, an outcome of signing of the memorandum of intent between the two countries in September 2019, is being examined as one linking with another organise international container transit through the NSR.
  • A study commissioned by Chennai Port Trust reveals that coking coal [used by steel companies], crude oil, Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) and fertilizers are some of the cargo that can be imported from Russia to India through CVMC.
  • Fourthly, experts are discussing the possibility of China and Russia gaining collective influence over the NSR.

Way forward

  • In March, a Russian delegation had promised to provide the availability of key components for the year-round operation of the route as it seeks the participation of Indian companies in projects related to the NSR.


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