African Development Bank – Some thoughts on Intent and Politics of Meeting in Gandhinagar
1. What is the logic behind holding the AfDB meet in Gandhinagar's Mahatma Mandir instead of holding it in Delhi?
The AfDB has been doing this in the past, having non-members host the Annual Meeting. Their site says
“ The Ahmedabad gathering is the fourth time the Annual Meetings are hosted by a non-regional member country, after Valencia, Spain, in 2000; Shanghai, China, in 2007; and Lisbon, Portugal, in 2011. In 2018, the meetings will take place in Busan, Korea.”
2. Is it because a need was felt to keep the participants insulated, away from civil society, diplomats, intellectuals, who would influence them on different issues?
I think there is a larger tug of war that is going on which includes “insulation from these constituencies”, but as the EU is trying to take charge of AREI perhaps they are creating a counter-block. (See attached letter to EU from NGOs).
3. There is a view that China has made major inroads into Africa. By holding the meet in Gandhinagar, Modi's men would be able to interact with Gujaratis who are in Africa and are on African boards. Do you agree with this view?
It is no secret that India wants as much economic space it can garner through all the mechanisms possible and do all the dirty things that corporates and hegemonies do. That’s why you find them investing in mining, telecom and oil and often in areas of conflict (Nigeria, South Sudan, Angola). Perhaps Indian State is concerned that China has so much surplus to invest that it has to enable AfDB and also find such filial nexus! The stories of Guptas in South Africa to big investors like Vedanta are clear articulation of extending our economic hegemony. Fundamentally, the Indian Corporates are in doldrums and have also led our banks to be so and the Government is desperate to save the banks and therefore these indulgent corporates and taking a “hair cut” of possibly over Rs 860,000 crores (130 Billion USD) the gross NPAs as of now. Recent analysis suggests that atleast Rs 100,000 crores need to be infused into the banks for them to survive.
The same article states in their official website, “Key discussion will focus on how the Bank’s High 5s, especially agriculture and energy, can be leveraged to promote Africa’s transformation. These include a series of Presidential forums on critical agro-industry issues, such as Leadership for Agricultural Transformation; Creative Energy Solutions to Boost African Agriculture, Innovative Financing for Agriculture, Financing African Infrastructure, Women in Agriculture, and Changing Perceptions on Agriculture: the Role of the Entertainment Industry (“Nollywood Meets Bollywood); among other varied topics and issues.
“Our goal is clear: achieve food self-sufficiency for Africa in ten years, eliminate malnutrition and hunger and move Africa to the top of agricultural value chains,” says AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina. The Bank is investing US $24 billion in agriculture and agribusiness on the continent in the next 10 years.”
By hosting this event we are also eyeing for a pie!
4. Gujarat-based tycoons are interested in making inroads into Africa. Do you think by holding the meet in Gandhinagar, things would become easier for them?
Gujaratis in particular but Indian Business in general. Ease of doing business is a mantra of this government both within the country and outside for the benefit of the corporates. The crisis in the economy has left very little options for the Government. After all, not every citizen does business. If it is not the business of the government to business it also not pandering to one of the most economically inefficient and corrupt system. The role of government must and should be only the welfare of the citizens and ensure that atleast the basic tenets of the constitution are practiced.
5. By holding the meet in Gandhinagar, no questions would be asked on racialist attacks in Delhi. Do you agree?
These institutions are insular and multilateral, therefore they will neither nor it is expected of them to take a stance on the real life of the people. Even when we talk about the poor quality or often no rehabilitation and inadequate and de-human resettlements, most MDBs have a long-winding bureaucratic dispensation of grievance redressal that it will be concluded only when the project is completed and they have washed their hands.
7. What could be AfDB's interest in holding the meet in Gujarat?
The fact that EU is trying to take charge of AREI perhaps they are creating a counter-block may have influenced the Bank. Many African countries are also vary of China.
Many thanks to Rajiv Shah for provoking to think on specific questions…