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African envoys meet to assess progress of India-Africa initiative
New Delhi: Envoys of 25 African countries and charge d'affaires of 11 others assembled at the Hyderabad House here Wednesday to take stock of the ongoing partnerships between India and Africa under the umbrella "INDIAFRICA: A Shared Future" people-to-people initiative of the public diplomacy division of the ministry of external affairs.
The ministry is collaborating with IdeaWorks, a Delhi-based design and strategy agency that specialises in the branding of nations.
Speaking on this occasion, Pinak Chakravarty, special secretary, (Public Diplomacy) said: "With the initiative, India has entered a new phase in ties with Africa."
"This public diplomacy initiative is certainly one of its kind across the globe. We do not have a model to replicate or guidelines to follow. It is about touching the hearts of people. Considering that both Africa and India are demographically very young, a major part of our focus is on the youth outreach. Our aim is to collaborate through competition, innovation and entrepreneurship," Chakravarty said.
Navdeep Suri, joint secretary, (Public Diplomacy) said: "The driving vision of the programme is to unleash the enormous energy of young people, to encourage their powerful creative ideas and to enable them to be facilitators of this process."
Suri explained that one aspect of the initiative - a multi-disciplinary contest series in the areas of business, essay writing, photography and poster design - as well as the Young Visionaries' Fellowship, will help create a platform for talented young Indians and Africans to exchange ideas about emergent realities, successes and challenges and explore future collaborations in business, design and culture.
The envoys reaffirmed their commitment to the initiative, which they termed as a "remarkable" effort.
Underlining that it was in the interest of both India and Africa to work jointly to help in capacity building, knowledge sharing, job creation and other areas, they pledged full support.
Making a presentation on the initiative for the envoys and the external affairs ministry, IdeaWorks CEO Amit Shahi said group youth outreach events have already been held in Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Tanzania and many more are underway.
The initiative is born in 2011 out of recognition of shared sensibilities, histories and intertwined cultures between India and the African continent. The connection between India and Africa, home to an over-two-million-strong Indian diaspora, has been "a continuous process of socio-cultural and economic exchange", Shahi said.