In­dia could do much good for SA

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE -

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.

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