Gandhinagar: Wooing Africa in a big way, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday chose the platform of his home state Gujarat to reiterate India’s commitment to partner the continent for development, and showcased his government’s achievements as a role model for Africa to follow.
Mr Modi, a former Gujarat chief minister, is on a two-day visit to the state that will hold polls in November — the first time without him at the helm. This is the PM’s fourth visit to the state this year.
On the eve of Mr Modi’s visit, Patidar quota stir leader Hardik Patel and 50 youths of his community tonsured their heads, raising the political heat. Patidars, a financially and politically influential community and BJP supporters for three decades, are up in arms against the state government and are seeking OBC status. Quoting from Nelson Mandela and giving the example of Mahatma Gandhi, the PM spoke about the strong ties between India and Africa. He pointed out that many of the challenges faced by Africa and India were the same, and added that both could learn from each others’ experiences.
“Many of the challenges we face are the same — uplifting our farmers and the poor, empowering women, ensuring our rural communities have access to finance, building infrastructure. We have to do these within financial constraints. We have to maintain macro-economic stability so that inflation is controlled, and our balance of payments is stable. There is much for us to gain by sharing our experiences on all these fronts. For example, in our push to a less-cash economy, we have learnt from the great strides African countries like Kenya have made in mobile banking,” Mr Modi said, opening the 52nd annual meet of the African Development Bank here.
Direct Benefit Transfer, voluntary submission of LPG subsidy, providing gas connections to poor people were some of the schemes he PM cited to showcase India’s strides in the last three years. Mr Modi said the scheme providing LPG connections to women had transformed the lives of rural women. “It frees them from the health hazards of cooking with firewood. It also protects the environment and reduces pollution. This is an example of what I call ‘reform to transform’ — a concerted set of actions that transform lives,” he said.
He also cited the example of neem coating of urea provided to farmers. The PM said India made unprecedented increases in capital investment in infrastructure, covering the railways, highways, power and gas pipelines.