- Some facts and figures
By Doreen Andoh, ACCRA
As Ghana-India ties continue to blossom, the true test of our defining partnership and friendship for the 21st century will be how it benefits not just our common citizens but also the global commons.
What has been described as extremely cordial, warm and friendly bilateral relations between Ghana and India dates as far back to the 1950s. The strong foundation of that bilateral relations between both countries was laid by India’s first Prime Minister, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, and Ghana’s first President, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.
The two great leaders also enjoyed a close friendship and as members of the Commonwealth, India maintains a High Commission in Accra, while Ghana has its High Commission in New Delhi, India’s Capital City.
India opened a consulate in Accra in 1953 and established full-fledged diplomatic relations with Ghana immediately after its Independence in 1957. It is interesting to note that successive Presidents such as President Hilla Limann in 1981, President Jerry John Rawlings in 1997, President J.A Kufuor in 2002 and 2008 and then Vice-President, John Dramani Mahama in 2010 all paid states visit to India.
Apart from other ministerial visits to Ghana, the most high-profile Indian leader to have visited Ghana had been Prime Minister Shri P.V. Narasimha Rao in 1995. Ghana-India relationship climbed to another level with the visit of President Pranab Mukherjee, becoming the first India President to visit Ghana since the two countries switched their relationship more than five decades ago.
Predominantly, the Indian-origin people in Ghana are of Sindhi origin whose ancestors first came to the country more than 70 years ago. The Indian Association of Ghana was for instance founded in 1937. They are mostly in the trading business. The longevity of Indians presence in Ghana gives better understanding to the Ghana-Indian relations. Beyond the strategic and economic ties, our people continue to bring us closer together.
The fact is, we are stronger when we work together, and our close collaboration in the years ahead can have a big impact upon global peace and prosperity. Given our shared democratic values, multicultural traditions, robust people-to-people ties and convergent economic and security interests, we are natural partners, and indeed on a course to be best partners.
Indian Republic Day
The main Republic Day celebration is held in the national capital, New Delhi, at the Rajpath before the President of India, every year on January 26.
It is the main attraction of India’s Republic Day Celebrations, which extends for three days. The parade showcases India’s defence capability, cultural, political and social Heritage.
On this day, ceremonious parades take place at the Rajpath, which are performed as a tribute to India; its unity in diversity and rich cultural heritage.
Indians in the diaspora, particularly, in Ghana are not left out of the celebration, as the various Indian High Commissions worldwide facilitate the celebration of the day in the respective countries they are situated.
In Ghana, the Indian High Commission has facilitated the celebration of Indian Republic Day, in collaboration with Ghana’s Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration.
The people of India place so much importance on the Indian Republic Day celebration, with the Indian High Commission in Ghana explaining on several occasions that the anniversary lay in the fact that after India gained its independence in 1947, it was able to declare itself a republic and also develop its own constitution in 1950 to become a sovereign, secular and democratic country.
It explains that by that, Indians took their destiny into their own hands and the Indian constitution, describing the Indian constitution as one of the most elaborate constitutions in the world with all the fundamental and democratic principles.
The celebration over the years has become very crucial because it is said to be marking the anniversary that provided India the opportunity to connect with its diaspora that numbers about 25 million to support national development.
All that and many more make the celebration a very important one in the history of Indians.
Diplomatic relations celebrated in Ghana
To commemorate the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and the Republic of Ghana, “Festival of India-Maitri” is organised in Ghana every year with the 2017 edition scheduled for January 25, 2017 to March 15, 2017.
This festival is mostly organised by the Government of India in collaboration with Ghana’s Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration.
“Festival of India” showcases multifaceted aspects of Indian culture in its various colourful forms and has been held in several countries, recent ones being in Australia, Canada, France, Indonesia and Italy. ‘Festival of India in Ghana’ has been entitled ‘Maitri’, meaning ‘friendship’ as it is held to commemorate many years of strong bonds of friendship between India and Ghana.
The “Festival of India” is characterized by components of Indian classical and folk dances, Sufi music, Indian foods festival, Indian film festival and lecture cum demonstration of Yoga.
The “Festival of India” was inaugurated on the eve of the 68th Republic Day of India on January 25 at the National Theatre with the performance of “Samanvay” by Lok Chhanda Cultural Unit led by Ms Maitreyee Pahari group. “Samanvay” is an amalgamation of different Indian classical and traditional dance forms namely Kathak, Bhraharatanyam, Odissi, Manipuri, Chhau and contemporary ones.
The group will also perform at the Centres for National Culture in Takoradi on Saturday, January 28; Cape Coast on Sunday, January 29 and in Kumasi on Tuesday, January 31.
Lok Chhanda is an institution dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the rapidly depleting traditional culture of India, under the stewardship of Ms Maitreyee Pahari, the Founder-Director. The offshoot of a missionary zeal of a few committed and energetic young boys and girls, Lok Chhanda seeks to rediscover and rejuvenate the latent chhanda in the common man.
In the rhythmic undulations of their bodies, weaving a lyrical tapestry of forms in the deep azure skies of the tropical sun it finds the idiom and connotations of a spirit rejoicing with gay abandon.
The preservation and presentation of these traditional forms, in their pristine idiom, is the cornerstone of Lok Chhanda’s raison d’etre. Simultaneously, Lok Chhanda does not hesitate to experiment and evolve.
A part of its energy is devoted to experiment, innovate and juxtapose traditional forms with other forms-drawing inspiration from the former without distorting their individual characteristics to lend the final presentation a classical touch.
These experiments and innovations have yielded rich dividends in the form of novel choreogeographies and other interactive collaborations which were well received by the connoisseurs and critics alike – both in India and abroad.
Our commercial ties similarly continue to deepen and enrich the lives of millions in both our countries. Two-way trade between our economies increased fivefold over the past decade to reach more than $2 billion plus and have investments estimated at US$1 billion into Ghana.
So far, the Government of India has extended Lines of Credit amounting to US$224 million to the Government of Ghana for various developmental projects being undertaken by the latter. It has been reported that in the last six or seven years, India’s concessional assistance to Ghana had been about US$30 billion apart from grants and several social economic projects in Ghana that touch the lives of common people here.
Ghana, on the other hand, imports automobiles and buses from India. Indian companies such as Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland, Bank of Baroda, Bharti Airtel and Tech Mahindra are among the major Indian companies in Ghana.
On the other hand, Ghanaian exports to India include gold, cocoa and timber, while Indian exports to Ghana compromise pharmaceuticals, agricultural machinery, electrical equipment, plastics, steel and cement.
The Government of India has extended $228 million in lines of credit to Ghana which has been used for projects in sectors such as agro-processing, fish processing, waste management, rural electrification and the expansion of Ghana’s railways.
This makes India the fourth largest foreign investor country in Ghana in terms of number of projects in Ghana. India has also offered to set up an India-Africa Institute of Information Technology (IAIIT) and a Food Processing Business Incubation Centre in Ghana under the Africa Forum Summit.
The flames of the two champions of South-South cooperation were carried further by hundreds of Indian merchants who have made Ghana their home, building flourishing businesses.