India could do much good for SA
IT WAS fitting Indian Prime Minister Naren- dra Modi paid a visit to Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg yesterday and paid his respects to Mahatma Gandhi. The iconic hero of India’s own liberation, and one of history’s great non-violent leaders, Gan- dhi’s roots in South Africa run deep, as do those of the Indian community, whose forefathers came to South Africa in the 19th century, first as indentured labourers and later as shopkeepers. Indians have, in this country, often been the tar- gets of abuse, and worse, from those on both ends of our racial spectrum. Often this has originated from those who are jealous of the apparent success of many in this community. The saga involving the Gupta family – who came to this country from India more than 20 years ago to seek their fortune – and claims of “state capture” have not helped the image of the community. It must also be said Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party has been characterised as right-wing Hindu nationalist and he has been tarnished by accusa- tions from rights groups that while chief minister of Gujarat state in 2002 he tacitly supported rioters who massacred Muslims. However, the relationship between India and South Africa is one which can be of great benefit to our country. India is a huge market and is increas- ingly flexing its economic muscles internationally, especially as part of the Brics grouping of coun- tries, to which we also belong. The Brics community offers a real alternative to the uni, or bipolar world which is dominated by the developed nations. It allows those from former colonies to speak up and to have their voices heard. On an emotional and spiritual level, we need to nurture bonds between our countries because the justice and reconcilation which Gandhi – and Nelson Mandela – stood for, is required to heal div- isions in our countries.