India's South African relationships date back many decades. In its support for the anti-apartheid movement, India was at the forefront of the international community; it was the first country to sever trade ties with the apartheid government (in 1946).
- India's ties with South Africa were restored with the opening of a Cultural Centre in Johannesburg in May 1993 after a gap of more than four decades. In November 1993, diplomatic and consular relations with South Africa were resumed.
- The year 2017 marked the 20-year declaration following the Red Fort Declaration for Strategic Partnership, 1997, which helped to consolidate this partnership over the years.
- Further the Tshwane Declaration, cooperation in various fields such as education, railways, science and technology, visa regimes, etc. was enhanced in 2006.
MUTUAL COLLABORATION AREAS
- Trade and investment: Bilateral trade is now over $10 billion between the two countries. In 1998, the two countries signed a Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) with a view to promoting investment.
- Governmental forums: Both countries belong to organizations such as BRICS, IBSA, IORA, G-20, etc. In order to achieve a more representative UN Security Council membership, both nations are committed to securing representation in an extended UN Security Council. As Commonwealth republics, both are former British colonies and full Commonwealth of Nations member states.
- Global terrorism: the early agreement and implementation of the UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism is sponsored by both countries.
- Other areas of cooperation include training initiatives to improve skills (Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation), pharmaceutical welfare mitigated by Indian firms's investments, cooperation in the defence sector, naval participation in the Indian Ocean region, etc.
- Trade: Before the global economic downturn and domestic political factors put a brake on rapid growth, total trade reached a high of US$ 15 billion (Rs 1 trillion) in 2012. Although a free trade agreement (FTA) has been promoted by both sides, it has not been signed.
- Chinese perspective: China is making deeper inroads into the African continent now. India cannot cope with the Chinese Cheque book diplomacy in monetary terms.
- Multilateral commitment on bilateral attention: India is currently primarily engaged on a multilateral basis, such as with the African Union, so the downstream delivery of its development projects takes place through these networks, thus eliminating the credit it deserves. In order to highlight India 's efforts, bilateral engagement should therefore be increased.
- Racial discrimination: Due to incidents of racial discrimination and even abuse and crimes against them, South African nationals do not feel comfortable and welcomed in India. This pattern is detrimental to the interaction of people between the two countries.
FURTHER COLLABORATION SPECTRUM
- Investments: Complementary areas should be explored; international investors in South Africa, for example, should look at mature sectors such as automotive parts, textiles, apparel and footwear. Health, diet, and wellness are main untapped industries. South Africa should get interested in biotechnology in India (a key strength of South African producers) as the industry now makes 100 % FDI via the automatic road.
- Skill development should continue to receive high attention, because given the huge youth population, there is immense scope in South Africa.
Countries should hold at least one annual summit meeting to review progress and discuss key issues relating to their bilateral, regional and global agendas. India 's efforts, through forums such as the India-Africa Strategic Dialogue, the India Africa Forum Summit, to foster cooperation with African nations are desirable and should be sustained.
The existing route of multilateral participation does not deliver the planned production for India. Bilateral engagement should be given more emphasis as it will tip the optics in favour of India. India will gain enhanced recognition and goodwill with the same amount of effort.
There is a large presence in South Africa of the Indian diaspora, which could be used for different levels of interaction, such as social and economic infrastructure. Similarly, it is important to safeguard the rights of the South African Diaspora in India, and eradicate from the root any problems such as discrimination, violent crimes, etc.