African Ambassadors Meet

January 18, 2012 
India International Centre, New Delhi

INDIAFRICA: A Shared Future hosted a High Tea for Ambassadors of the African High Commissions in Delhi at the India International Center.

The High Tea served as a networking session for a community of African ambassadors, with a vision to present the INDIAFRICA program and invite deeper collaboration. Featured speakers included Additional Secretary of the MEA, Mr Gurjeet Singh; Joint Secretary Public Diplomacy Division, Mr. Navdeep Suri; Deputy Director General, ICWA (Indian Council of World Affairs), Mr. Sarvajit Chakravarti; Joint Secretary, Technical Cooperation, Pankaj Sharma; Deputy Director General, ICCR, Anita Nayar; Assistant Director General (EQR), Indian Council of Agricultural Research, Dr. R. K. Mittal; Adviser, Indian Council of Science and Technology, Mr. Arvind Mitra; Founder of The Blue Yonder responsible tourism group, Gopinath Parayil; and CEO IdeaWorks, Amit Shahi.

Each of these speakers represented collaborations to further networks and connections between India and Africa. Mr Gurjeet Singh, Additional Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs Mr. Singh focused his remarks around Human Resource Development, and shared information about the upcoming event ‘Global Commons and Challenges in Africa’; the upcoming conference ‘India Africa Science and Technology Ministerial; and the Indian African Business Council’s first meeting which will be held on March 17th, on the eve of the CII Conclave (March 18-20).

He also spoke about educational scholarships for African students in India. 22,000 scholarships have been awarded over the past 3 years: 85 special agriculture scholarships were supported by the ICAR (Indian Council of Agricultural Research) and the African Union, and 97 C V Raman Scientific fellowships have been approved. The ICCR (Indian Council for Cultural Relations) granted 900 scholarships in 2011, and offered approximately 1,000 special training courses

After the 1st India Africa Summit, it was decided that 10 training centres would be built, with a vision of increased cooperation and knowledge sharing around topics such as river basin studies. Three of these centeres are complete, in Ethiopia, Mozambique and Burundi.

Mr. Gopinath Parayil, The Blue Yonder Blue Yonder is the first private partner of INDIAFRICA: A shared future and has offered 10 holidays for the programmes. Mr. Parayil introduced The Blue Yonder as an innovative travel company promoting sustainable and responsible travel in India. The initiative was born from an effort to save the rivers in Kerala, and like many other notfor- profit organizations, it ran out of funds. It was here that the company decided to focus on sustainable travel and tourism instead of applying for grants for funding. Inspired by the sustainable tourism systems of South Africa, Parayil determined to develop the idea and apply the model to other states while still being locally owned and self sustained. He seeks to travel to South Africa to learn more about their systems and to try and implement their success story in various regions of India.

Navdeep Suri, Joint Secretary, Public Diplomacy Division, Ministry Of External Affairs Public diplomacy works on the basis of people-to-people interactions. Mr. Suri highlighted 4 initiatives:

1. Handcrafting Hope in Adis Ababa, bringing together 25 African craftswomen and 25 Indian craftswomen for knowledge sharing and interaction around the question: can handicrafts be empowering. This was done with the cooperation of the NGO Dastkari Haat.
2. A week-long interaction between young (age 25-40) members of Parliament from India and Africa. From March 13-20, MPs will convene in Mumbai and Pune before arriving at the India Africa conclave in Delhi.
3. The Jagriti Yatra, a 15 day, 8000 km train journey around India engaging people from different countries and cultures and showing them stalwarts of social enterprise all over India.
4. INDIAFRICA: A Shared Future, which Mr. Suri described as a new programme with no models, encouraging support, networking, and building connections as a way to ensure the initiative’s success. He gave recognition to IdeaWorks’ Mr. Amit Shahi for developing the vision and mentioned that INDIAFRICA would need help in organizing events at universities across Africa

Mr Amit Shahi, Programme Director, INDIAFRICA: A Shared Future Mr Shahi introduced the IdeaWorks as a design and strategy firm which currently looks primarily at place branding and public diplomacy initiatives. He shared other successful initiatives of the company, including work at the WEF in Davos; the UN Climate Change Summit; Singapore F1; Incredible India @ 60 in New York; and future projects with the governments of UK and France.

He then introduced INDIAFRICA: A Shared Future as an initiative that is born out of India: Future of Change, also a brainchild of the IdeaWorks. INDIAFRICA: A Shared Future invites African and Indian students to compete and collaborate through contests and interactions to co-create a better future for both India and Africa. This year, the contests comprise four themes: Photography, Poster Design, Essay Writing and Business Plan.

Another program, Young Visionaries, aims to identify and facilitate young professionals with great ideas. These young visionaries receive cash prizes and opportunities to meet and interact with peers and experts. This creates a network for interactions and knowledge sharing between participants, students and professionals, governments, organisations and universities. Through on the-ground interaction, youth energy and intelligence is engaged and channeled in positive, impactful ways. Young people all over the world have ideas, but they also need opportunity.

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Copyright © 2012. INDIAFRICA: A Shared Future