“India in Africa: Changing Geographies of Power” by E. Mawdsley and G. McCann

Copyright Post-Western World

This highly informative collection of essays edited by Emma Mawdsley and Gerard McCann provides the reader with an excellent overview of India’s presence in Africa – a topic neglected by most books on Indian foreign policy (with the notable exception of Jacob’s and Chandran’s India’s Foreign Policy- Old Problems, New Challenges, which includes a short chapter on the issue). While the topic of China’s growing presence in Africa has long reached the mainstream media, India’s role is largely unknown outside of a small but growing circle of specialists. As the editors recognize in the introduction, “China is certainly a more potent player in most African countries and sectors than India at present, so in part this very uneven interest simply responded to an accurate assessment of their relative material powers and impacts” – at the same time, India’s influence in Africa is set to increase and it holds valuable lessons for other emerging powers active in Africa, namely Brazil and Turkey.

What the authors make clear early on in the book is that while international observers have a negative bias when analyzing China’s role in Africa, India is often portrayed as overly positive – for example, China was roundly criticized and shamed publicly for its ‘irresponsible hydrocarbon investments’ in Sudan, but few realized that India – behaving just like China – was not subject to the same scrutiny. As Sanusha Naidu writes in chapter 3, India is comfortable operating in China’ s shadow, although it is unclear for how long India can escape the criticism for such controversial moves such as large-scale farm acquisitions and subsequent near duty-free food exports of crops to India.

Is India’s role comparable to that of China? Are China and India engaged in a new version of the ‘scramble for Africa’?

Please follow the link to continue: India in Africa: Changing Geographies of Power

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