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F O C U S

Cultural Interaction

Emerging Trends and Prospects

There has been increasing cultural interaction between the two countries over the years. Among others, India and Ethiopia signed a Cultural Agreement in 1983 which provided for cooperation in art and culture, education, archeology, sports, public health, film, television, radio, press, etc. A twoyear cultural exchange programme was implemented subsequently. This included provision for training slots and scholarships, deputation of experts in planning, agriculture, archeology, academic cooperation and linkages between universities, exchange of books, publications, scientific journals, etc. Also, a memorandum of understanding in the field of information and mass media was signed in 1984 between the two countries. A number of Indian folk dance troupes gave performances in Ethiopia. A number of Indian film festivals were also held in Ethiopia which proved extremely popular. Indian films, both documentaries and features, are extremely popular in Ethiopia. Every young Ethiopian is familiar with the names of leading Indian film stars and latest films. Indian film music strikes an instant emotional connection. The presence of a strong Indian community in Ethiopia, particularly in Addis Ababa, possibly the largest foreign resident community in the country, is yet another indication of the strength of growing IndoEthiopian cultural relations. They numbered more than 9,000 at one point of time. During the communist Derg regime many Indians left Ethiopia and they numbered over 3,000 at the end of the 1980s, made up mostly of businessmen and teachers. The number of professionals and technical personnel has, however, been steadily on the increase in recent years. In 2003 alone the Ethiopian ministry of education recruited about 250 Indians for teaching at the University of Addis Ababa and other universities in Ethiopia, including the author of this article. Currently, there are some 400 Indian professors teaching in various Ethiopian universities. There are also a couple of schools run by the Indian community in Addis Ababa.

In short, relations between Ethiopia and India have always been good and have sometimes been described as a model for South-South Cooperation. As we have seen, India and Ethiopia share much in common in terms of history, culture, socio-economic characteristics and common political aspirations. If we look towards the past, it becomes evident that India and Africa have been part of a common struggle for freedom. It is clear that existing relations between India and Ethiopia, particularly in the economic field, do not reflect the full potential. It should be stressed that the economies of India and Ethiopia are quite complementary and, therefore, they stand to benefit from increased trade and greater economic cooperation in a variety of fields. India-Ethiopia relations could assume new directions and dimensions in building a more robust and substantial partnership. Indeed, the two countries need to rediscover each other’s true potential. Some key areas in which the two countries could greatly intensify collaboration to great mutual benefit are: information and communication technologies, human resource development, agriculture, dairy development, the development of small-scale industries and pharmaceuticals, among others. Thanks to the success of the Indian economy over the last decade and a gradual process of economic reform in the world’s most populous democracy, Indian companies are becoming internationally competitive and can set up more and more ventures in Ethiopia in a variety of sectors. For Ethiopia, like most other African countries, industrialization and modernization is the path ahead and not perpetuating the raw material economy. The consolidation and strengthening of India-Ethiopia economic linkages can go a long way to usher in a new era of meaningful and mutually beneficial South-South Cooperation. As a new world order is unfolding before us, it is incumbent on India and Ethiopia, who share ideals and ideas, culture and a convergent world view, to work together more closely to promote the collective interest of the developing nations in our common search for a more democratic and equitable world.

References Assefa, Endeshaw, ‘Ethiopia: Perspectives for Change and Renewal’, Singapore, 2002 Chatterjee, S.K., ‘India and Ethiopia from the Seventh Century B.C.’, Calcutta, 1968 Embassy of India, Addis Ababa, ‘India and Ethiopia’, Addis Ababa, October 2003 Harris,E., Joseph,(ed) ‘Pillars of African History’, Howard University Press, 1974 Kinfe, Abraham, ‘Ethiopia: From Empire to Nation’, Addis Ababa, 2001 Mathews, K., ‘Ethiopia: A Country-Profile’, Africa Quarterly, Vol. 41, No. 3, 2001 Merera, Gudina, ‘Ethiopia: Competing Ethnic Nationalisms

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and the Quest for Democracy –– 1960-2000’, Addis Ababa, 2003 Muthanna, I.M., ‘Indo-Ethiopian Relations for Centuries’, James Waix, Vancouver, 1995 Negash, Kebret, ‘Ethiopia-India Relations: A Historical Perspective’, Africa Quarterly, Vol. 41, No. 3, 2001 Pankhurst, Richard, ‘Ethiopian Diaspora in India’, in his book (ed.) titled ‘African Diaspora in the Indian Ocean’, London, 2002 Panhurst, Silvia, ‘Ethiopia: A Cultural History’, London, 1955 Sadiq Ali, Shanti, ‘India and Africa Through the Ages’, National Book Trust of India, New Delhi, 1980

February-April 2007

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February 2007-April 2007

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