By Mahendra Ved
Windhoek (Namibia), June 16:
Promising to forge “a new relationship” with Africa, President Pranab Mukherjee has assured people in the continent “we are with you in all your struggles”.
The message was conveyed through the Indian diaspora as much as during his talks with the leadership of the three countries he is visiting — Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Namibia — with the emphasis that even the choice of the countries being visited has “not been random” but a part of India’s outreach.
Mukherjee is the first Indian head of state visiting these countries as part of maintaining high-level contacts.
Nowhere has he heard a complaint against the Indians living or settled in Africa as they have been law-abiding citizens, having good relations in the countries they have chosen to make their home.
“You are the symbols of India’s soft power. You are the unofficial ambassadors, the cultural ambassadors of India,” the President said at a reception.
While Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire in West Africa have 10,000 and 2,500 Indians, Namibia where he arrived on Wednesday evening has a small 300-strong community of Indian professionals, workers, businessmen and traders.
Mahatma Gandhi was the “greatest Indian abroad”, who was baptized in the struggle against colonialism, apartheid and exploitation in South Africa. This helped him evolve and lead the freedom movement on return home, a non-violent one, against the world’s mightiest power, Mukherjee said.
He urged the Indians abroad to be proud of their homeland that has transformed since the Independence. The life expectancy had increased from 28 years to 72 and its economy, despite the downturn of 2008, has picked up to emerge as one of the fastest growing major economies, when many others have faltered, he added. (IANS)