With India gaining increasing importance in international strategic and economic thinking, news from India and about India is being increasingly sought after by the rest of the world. Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) has carved a niche for itself not only in reporting India, South Asia, and the large Indian diaspora spread across the world, but also global events that are of interest to and impact on India, its geopolitics, is economy, its culture, society, and national aspirations.
A blend of the traditional and the modern, India is one of the oldest civilizations and the world’s largest democracy. It is home to 1 billion-plus people professing various faiths and speaking in different tongues. But what binds them together is a sense of ‘Indianness’ which is hard to define, but could be sensed instinctively amid all this mind-boggling diversity.
The dawn of mankind, the cradle of human civilization, ancient land of myth, legends, and mystery, Africa has now joined the march of modernity and globalization. From the pharaohs of ancient Egypt to the grand emperors of Abyssinia and the legendary kings of Ethiopia, Africa has been home to myriad cultures and to knowledge and wisdom that continues to resonate in the African ethos today.
Africa, comprising 53 countries, is the world’s second-largest continent both in terms of land area and population, after Asia. The continent, at about 30.2 million km² (11.7 million sq mi) including adjacent islands, covers 6 percent of the Earth’s total surface area and 20.4 percent of the total land area. It is home to a billion people that account for about 14.8 percent of the world’s human population. The continent is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, the Suez Canal and the Red Sea to the northeast, the Indian Ocean to the southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west.
Multi-lingual and multi-religious, around 1,000 indigenous languages are spoken across the African continent, and nearly every religion has followers among African people. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, approximately 46.5 percent of all Africans are Christian and another 40.5 percent are Muslim, while 11.8 percent follow indigenous African religions. A small number of Africans are Hindu, Baha’i, or have beliefs from the Judaic tradition. Examples of African Jews are Beta Israel, Lemba peoples, and the Abayudaya of Eastern Uganda.
Africa is potentially the world’s richest continent. It’s blessed with a vast array of natural resources, including luxuriant forests, and minerals of just about every kind including gold, silver, diamond, copper, iron, zinc, and chrome. True, the continent faces a spate of formidable problems including widespread poverty, illiteracy, underdevelopment, chronic conflicts, and violence, some of them a spillover of colonial exploitation of the past, but it’s a tribute to the grit and endurance of the African people that they have not allowed these afflictions to cramp their onward march to modernity and a better collective future. Although the resource-rich region is in the news for mostly negative reasons, largely due to biases of media, there is no dearth of success stories in Africa.
Africa is in the throes of a defining resurgence that promises to have lasting implications for the global economy. Despite the global economic slowdown, the IMF has conjured up a robust future for the continent. According to the IMF, the African economy is expected to grow at an average rate of over 5 percent, which will be above the global average. A recent survey by The Economist reveals that 6 of the 12 fastest-growing economies are in sub-Saharan Africa. Africa has also emerged as a new oil hub that has sparked an unprecedented global interest in the continent. Oil producers like Angola, Libya, Mauritania, Republic of Congo, and Sudan are also some of the top-performing economies in Africa.
Two-thirds of African countries have successfully held multi-party elections and as many as 24 countries have signed up for the African peer review mechanism that allows a panel of “wise men” to benchmark the performance of African countries against four broad parameters, including democracy and good governance. “Something decidedly is on the horizon in Africa, something that began in the 1990s. Many African countries are rewriting rules,” said a recent World Bank report, capturing the mood of economic buoyancy in the region. A host of factors like improved political stability, people-centric governance, economic reforms, a confident embrace of globalization, surplus oil revenues, robust commodity prices, and cautious monetary and fiscal policies have contributed to the ongoing economic resurgence.