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1, Jan-June 2011 Sciences
DIVINER A Research Journal of Humanities and Social
India and Two Sudans: Strengthening Old Relationship in the New Millennium
Mohammed Khalid* Largest country on African continent till recently, Sudan has been divided into Republic of the Sudan (North Sudan) and the Republic of South Sudan on the 9th of June 2011. Both the republics lie in northeastern Africa. North Sudan covers an area of 1,886,068 sq km and South Sudan about 619,745 sq km. North Sudan is bordered by Egypt to the north, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the southwest, Chad to the west and Libya to the northwest. South Sudan is bordered by Ethiopia to the east; Kenya to the southeast; Uganda to the south; the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the southwest; the Central African Republic to the west; and Sudan to the north. While north Sudan has a coastline of 853 km on the Red Sea, South Sudan has emerged as a land locked country.1 River Nile runs through both the countries dividing them between east and west. Bordered by seven different countries, North Sudan is a strategic gateway to many African countries.2 Shipping facilities at its Port Sudan and other ports cater not only to Sudan but also provide overland trade outlets to a number of countries. Due to its geographical importance, every regional as well as outside power has given Sudan an important place in its regional and global strategy. India too has always strived to maintain friendly relations with Sudan. After the division of the country India is ready to continue close relationship with both the countries. Since its independence in 1956, Sudan had continuously faced a civil war. Initially between the northern and the southern regions, and then the marginalized groups from its each peripheral area entered into conflict with the central government. They also resented the mindless exploitation of local resources, imposition of religious and cultural beliefs on local tribes and ethnic groups.3 In February 2003, rebels from the western Darfur region of Sudan also launched an uprising and demanded equal representation in the government and improved infrastructure in the region. The government retaliated by sending its militias (known as janjaweed), to target the villages of the rebel groups in Darfur region. In this violent situation, roughly three hundred thousand persons died and nearly three million were displaced.4 According to 2003 estimates combined Sudan had literacy rate of 61.1% and had 19 universities including a University of Science and Technology set up in 1990. Of these, the Catholic University of Sudan and the University of Juba are located in South Sudan. Mainly rain-fed and susceptible to drought, agriculture is the mainstay of economy in north and south Sudan. This sector employs 80% of the workforce and contributes 39% of the GDP. Due to lack of agricultural development, much of the population remains below the
*Associate Professor in Political Science, Dept. of Evening Studies, Panjab University, Chandigarh.
poverty line. Rich mineral resources are available in North Sudan including: petroleum, natural gas, gold, silver, chromites, asbestos, manganese, gypsum, mica, zinc, iron, lead, uranium, copper, kaolin, cobalt, granite, nickel, tin and aluminum. South Sudan too contains many natural resources such as petroleum, iron ore, copper, chromium ore, zinc, tungsten, mica, silver, gold, and hydropower. However, after South Sudan became an independent nation in July 2011, no agreement has reached on how to split the revenue from the southern oilfields. Petroleum exploration began in Sudan in the mid-1970s and commercial quantities of oil began to be exported in October 2000, reducing Sudan’s outflow of foreign exchange for imported petroleum products. Oil has emerged as an important commodity exported to Japan, China, South Korea, Indonesia, and India. Increase in daily oil production (currently at about 520,000 barrels) has revived industry, expanded export processing and has helped the country to sustain GDP growth at about 6%. Most of the oil fields are operated by oil consortiums from China, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Yemen.6 Gas deposits, detected on Red Sea continental shelves are being drilled. Due to lack of skilled labour force, raw materials, and investments, both the Sudans have a small industrial sector. Industry accounted for an estimated 17 percent of GDP in 1998. About 80 percent of the industry is privately-owned. The main industries in erstwhile combined Sudan included tanning and leather production, weaving and spinning mills, gum arabic production, paper mills, minerals, ores, and raw materials extraction. The tannery industry created 6 percent of the country's exports. It produced furs for the footwear industry, belts, and artificial leather. There were 7 big tanneries, 72 leather factories, and 290 traditional manufacturers. Textile industry in the country included government supported weaving and spinning mills. Sudan produces arabic gum (extracted from the resin of Senegalese acacia trees) used in foodstuffs, chemical industry, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and lithography to meet 80 percent of the world consumption. Sudan has been the third largest producer of sugar in Africa, after South Africa and Egypt producing more than 450,000 tons every year.7 Traditionally trade deficit, Sudan became trade surplus due to oil exports after 2000. Other exports included oil seeds, sesame, vegetable oil, and sugar cotton, sheep and some gold. It imports foodstuffs, steel and alloy products, spare parts, audio and video devices, refrigerators, cars, buses and trucks etc. In 2000, Sudan imported about $17 million worth of irrigation materials from China. Sudan’s major trading partners include Saudi Arabia, UK, Egypt, Italy, India, France, China, Netherlands and Japan. Both the Sudans are rich in resources but remain poor country and full of starvation. They have very low indicators on United Nations Human Development Index. Resources have not been properly developed. Corruption in high offices has reportedly been rampant. The battle to control oil resources was one of the major bones of contention which caused the division of the country. Fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Southern Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) over control of oil resources rendered thousands of people homeless and disabled. Many families lost everything fleeing their country's violence, drought, or floods in the west and the south of the country. 8 Darfur region homing racially mixed peasant tribes were subjected to systematic displacement and
murders at the hands of government-supported Janjaweed militia. The genocide in Darfur claimed 400,000 lives and displaced over 2,500,000 people. These and other such problems have kept Sudan endemically poor and deprived. To end this internecine conflict, a referendum was held from 9 to 15 January 2011 to determine if South Sudan should declare its independence from Sudan and 98.83% of the population voted for independence. This led to a formal independence of South on 9 th July, 2011, although certain disputes still remain such as sharing of the oil revenues as an estimated 80% of the oil is secured from South Sudan, which is an amazing economic potential for one of the world's most deprived areas. The region of Abyei still remains disputed and a separate referendum will be held in Abyei on whether they want to join North or South Sudan. India and Sudan India’s relations with Sudan go back to the days of the Nilotic and Indus Valley Civilizations when both carried out trade almost 5,000 years ago through Mesopotamia. Some archaeologists claim Indian influence through its ancient Red Sea port of Adulis. Nubian kingdoms of 12th century northern Sudan had trade links with India. In the 17th century, Sinnar, capital of the Funj “Black Sultanate”, had regular trade with India through the Red Sea port of Suakin. Indian merchants frequented to the major market town of Shendi in northern Sudan (centre of the slave trade situated on the east bank of the Nile) 150 km northeast of Khartoum to sell spices, sandalwood and textiles and buy leather, gold, wood and animals like camels and horses. Indians began to settle in Sudan about 150 years ago when traders from Guajarati came to this land in the early 1860s they slowly expanded their business. From port towns of Port Sudan and Suwakin Indians moved into the interior of the country. Ever since, Indian community in Sudan has played an important role in cementing relations between the two countries. During India’s freedom movement, Mahatma Gandhi stopped over in Port Sudan (while sailing to England) in 1935 and in 1938; Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi halted there on their way to Britain and were hosted by Indian community. Getting inspiration from Indian experience, leaders of Sudan's independence movement formed The Graduates Congress in 1938, modeled on the Indian National Congress. Before its independence, Sudan's first parliamentary elections in 1953 were conducted by Sukumar Sen, the Chief Election Commissioner of India. In April 1955, the interim Prime Minister of the Sudan Ismial Al Azhari and several Ministers visited New Delhi on their way to Bandung for the first AfroAsian Relations Conference. India appointed M.A. Kidwai as the first Liaison Officer --later India’s Charge d’Affaires-- in Khartoum in March 1955. India was among the first countries to recognize independent Sudan. Both have continued to have cordial relations, despite India's recently growing close relationship with United States and Israel (whom Sudan does not recognize), India's solidarity with Egypt over border issues with Sudan, and Sudan's intimate bonds with Pakistan. Sudanese Government funded with one
hundred thousand pounds for Sudan Block at India’s National Defence Academy Khadakvasla for the sacrifices of the Indian troops (as part of British and Commonwealth forces) in the liberation of Sudan in the North African Campaign during World War II.9 After having close relations with Sudan since its independence, India also welcomed the referendum in which Southern Sudan voted for independence and has looked forward to work closely with both sides in Sudan and extend all possible assistance to both the sides. Though India’s relationship with newly emerged South Sudan has yet to crystallize and unfold its course, an eye view of India’s multifaceted relationship with combined Sudan will definitely be helpful to see the contours of future relationship with both the Sudans. Bilateral visits To cement bilateral relations, India and Sudan exchanged visits by their high officials since 1950s. Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru visited Sudan in July 1957. In April 1963 Vice President Dr. Zakir Hussain, in December 1975 President Fakruddin Ali Ahmed, and in October 2003 President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam paid a State visit to Sudan. A team from the National Defence College visited there in May 2003. Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed led a 20-member business delegation to Khartoum and Juba in November 2005 to explore prospects of business relationship between the two countries. Similarly, the Prime Minister of Sudan Interim Government, Ismail El Azhari, visited India in 1955 and as President again in 1967. President El Ferik Ibrahim Abboud visited India in May 1964 and President Jaffer Nimeiri in 1974. Foreign Minister Ali Osman Taha visited India in 1995, and again in April 1997 for the Ministerial Conference of NAM countries. President Omar Hassan Ahmed Al Bashir visited India in July 1999 and again in 2002. The Speaker of the Sudanese National Assembly Ahmed Ibrahim Al Tahir visited India in January 2003 to participate in the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of India’s Parliament. Sudan’s Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports led his country’s delegation to the launch of the India-Arab Partnership Forum in New Delhi in December 2008 which coincided with the India Arab Cultural Festival.10 These bilateral visits indicate a continuous goodwill between the two countries. Bilateral agreements India and Sudan have signed several agreements and Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) in the past. Agreements on Economic, Technical and Scientific Cooperation and Cultural Cooperation were signed in November 1974. Both also signed agreements on Protocol for Science and Technology Cooperation. Avoidance of Double Taxation, Promotion and Protection of Investments, Agriculture, Small and Medium Industries, Foreign Office Consultations etc. 11 They formed an Indo-Sudanese Joint Committee in January 1995 which was later upgraded to a Joint Commission at ministerial level in June 1997. At India-Africa Hydrocarbon conference (held in New Delhi on 7-8 December 2009), India and Sudan signed an agreement on expanding ties in the oil and gas sector. Both signed agreement on 29
January 2010 to improve Sudan’s basic infrastructure which included the supply of 300 buses from India for Khartoum. India’s TATA Company was issued transportation contract. They signed Agreement on the Establishment of Joint Business Council between the Sudanese Businessmen General Federation and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI); Agreement for co-operation to develop Small Scale Enterprises in Sudan; Agreement between the Foreign Service Institute of India and the National Centre for Diplomatic Studies of Sudan; Agreement between PTI and Sudan News Agency (SUNA) for mutual professional co-operation; Agreement for Cultural Exchange. Besides, India and Sudan have signed MOUs in the field of Health Cooperation; Consultations between the External Affairs ministries; between the Sudanese Civil Aviation Authority and the Airport Authority of India; between CII and Sudanese Chamber of Industries Association (SCIA); Cooperation in Agricultural Research and Education; Cooperation in the field of Agriculture and Allied Sectors; between Exim Bank and Industry Development Bank of Sudan for project investment in Sudan. Both also signed Protocol on Co-operation in the field of Radio and Television between Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India) and Sudanese Radio and Television.12 In the time of crises, India provided humanitarian assistance like tents and medicines for flood victims in Gezira state of Sudan in 1978. It gifted medicines to control the leishmaniasis (kala-azar) in South Sudan in 1983; gifted 22,560 tonnes of wheat in 1985 and another 6,000 tonnes in 1987. India sent medicines following devastating floods in Khartoum in late 1996, and medicines worth US$ 5,50,000 in October 2003 for the victims of the floods in Kassala region, and relief supplies to flood victims in 2008.13 On request, India also offered 20,000 tons of wheat as humanitarian assistance to the people of Darfur in March 2005. Technical/educational assistance and commercial relations Under various agreements and MoUs, India has extended technical help and cooperation to Sudan. In April 2006, Central Electronics Ltd of India installed a complete solar electrification system, funded by the Indian Ministry of Non-conventional Energy Sources, in Khadarab village in Gezira state. In November 2006, India and Sudan signed Pan-African E-Network Country Agreement for the establishment of a satellite and fiber-optic network meant to provide effective communication and connectivity among the 53 members of the African Union to enable the leaders of Africa to video-conference instantly. This will benefit the people in telemedicine and tele-education as well. In January 2007, Central Electronics Ltd of India established a solar photo voltaic module manufacturing facility at the Energy Research Institute Khartoum. Sudan is a major beneficiary of the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Programme under which over 150 Sudanese nationals are trained in India every year. Under the ICCR and Africa Scholarships Schemes, India offers 20 scholarships for post graduate and doctoral studies to Sudanese nationals. India trained 20 Sudanese diplomats at the Foreign Service Institute in New Delhi in September-October 2005. About 15 Officials from the Government of Southern Sudan took training in
April-May 2008. About 5,000 Sudanese students study in India and so far over 30,000 Sudanese have graduated from Indian universities.14 India's trade with Sudan has been regulated by trade agreements first entered into in 1965. Both the countries signed a trade protocol for 18 months from July 1971 to December 1972. In the seventies India was Sudan's largest trading partner but now ranks at 4th place. The volume of trade both ways progressively increased over the past many years. In the past about three years, bilateral trade has grown by 800%. Indian exports to Sudan for the year 1998-99 were 63.36 US$ million which increased to 317.84 million in 2005 and further 886 million in 2008. India is 4 th largest exporter of commodities to Sudan after Saudi Arabia, China and UAE. It has exported engineering goods, drugs and pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, machinery and instruments, transport equipment and vehicles, textiles. India’s imports from Sudan have gone up from US$ 26.51 million in 1998 to 194.78 million in 2009. It has imported raw hides and skins, gum arabic, cotton, leather and metal scrap from Sudan. India’s Bajaj auto-rickshaws, scooters, Tata buses and trucks, Maruti cars and Mahindra Scorpios has provided India ubiquitous presence in Sudan. Indian Basmati rice was formally launched in November 2006. Indian investments in Sudan Government of India decided to invest US$ 750 million in 2003 with the ONGC Videsh Limited investing a total US$2.5 billion in Sudan in oil production and exploration. It has acquired 25% of the shares of the Sudan's biggest oil consortium, the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (GNPOC). India has three oil blocks and has built a 741-km-long multi product pipeline linking Khartoum Refinery to Port Sudan. However Indian investment was resented by Sudan People's Liberation Army. 15 To promote investment, an "Enterprise India Advantage Sudan" trade fair was organized in Khartoum in August 2006 in which 78 Indian companies participated. The fair gave a new thrust to commercial relations and generated business worth US$ 150 million. Five priority sectors in which India has responded to Sudan’s developmental requirements are infrastructure, agriculture, human resource development, information & communications technologies, and small & medium industries. Problems and prospects India has had cordial relations with Sudan since it got independence. Mutual cooperation was developed in different fields. Still the relationship between the two countries could not reach its full potential. Sudan’s closeness to Pakistan and its support to later in the Indo-Pakistani Wars, reciprocated by and Pakistan‘s support to Sudan over its boundary disputes with both Egypt and Kenya have somewhere hampered the Indo-Sudanese relations. Sudan’s close relations with China have also posed a definite challenge to India in military and economic sphere. Both had close diplomatic and trade relations. China has supplied it defence equipment and weapons which were used by the government to quell uprising in Darfur region. China National Petroleum Corporation owns 40 percent --the largest single share-- of the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Co.16
While separatist movement in Southern areas was on, Sudan was accused by international community of political repression, human rights abuses, and support of terrorism. China provided diplomatic protection to Sudan in the UN Security Council. In the early and mid-1990s, other terrorist leaders such as Osama bin Laden and Abu Nidal resided in Khartoum. Sudan was also accused of providing assistance to the Iraqi insurgents by permitting militants from Sudan and other nations to transit to Iraq. Sudan’s ties with countries like North Korea and Libya and its alleged support for regional insurgencies such as Egyptian Islamic Jihad in Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Palestinian, and its support to Hamas and Hezbollah against Israel generated great concern about its contribution to regional instability. On these accounts the United State listed Sudan for spawning international terrorism and imposed sanctions against it. Since India has supported US in anti-terrorism drive, and supported imposition of UN sanctions against Sudan (through its resolutions 1556 of 30 July 2004 and 1591 of 2005), it could have hampered ties between India and Sudan to reach its full potential. In the wake of Sudan’s division in two sovereign and independent states, India has to re-look its foreign policy vis-à-vis both the countries. India’s spectacular economic rise over the last two decades has accelerated its trade and investment flows with Sudan and the same need to be extended to the new nation of South Sudan. India has to maintain and further consolidate its relations with both the countries as north Sudan provides a door to carry trade with its neighbouring countries as well and South Sudan for its oil reserves. India has sufficient wherewithal, ready-to-deploy human resource and a vibrant private sector to help South Sudan in its development. With its manpower and technical expertise, India can help to explore and exploit the rich mineral resources in both the countries. Indian trade with a large number of countries depends on safe sea lanes passing through the Red Sea thereby making it important for India to maintain cordial relations with north Sudan who has a long coast on the Red Sea. About 16 per cent of India’s crude oil import is from African countries including Sudan. Most of the oil fields in Sudan are in the south which calls for consolidating relations with South Sudan. Since China has been extending diplomatic and military help to Sudan in its fight against uprising in the south and Darfur, India has a fairly good chance to have closer economic and technological partnership with South Sudan. India’s relations with both the Sudans can be seen in the wider context of its Africa policy where it played a leading role to support de-colonisation process and support to struggle against apartheid in South Africa. At its root was Nehru’s belief that India's independence would be incomplete without Africa's freedom. He also foresaw the need to strengthen Afro-Asian unity that led to the Bandung Conference and the birth of non-alignment. Realizing the pressing need for development in sub-Saharan Africa, India has been generous in extending assistance and providing access to its higher education institutions. These modest efforts have been instrumental to meet Africa's felt needs and our suitable response. In this background, India needs to deepen its engagement with the specific goal of fulfilling Africa's needs and aspirations in accordance with our capabilities and interests. Cordial and mutually beneficial relations between India and Africa are “an emerging priority” of our foreign policy and sustained attention towards both north and south Sudan will be conducive to the emerging geopolitical realities of the new millennium.
References: 1. The World fact book, Central Intelligence Agency, Washington, DC, 2010. 2. Abdalhaleem. Abdalmahmood, “Sudan: the Country Profile”, Dilomatist, vol.7, no.3, (Noida, May-June 2003) p.82. 3. Bashir, M. O: The Southern Sudan: Background to Conflict, C. Hurst, London, 1968, p.1; Rahim, Misddathir A: The Development of British Policy in the Southern Sudan, 1899-1947, Khartoum University Press, 1968, p.46; Africa South of Sahara 2004, Europa Publications, London, 2005, pp. 1060-85 4. Kumar, Suresh, “Peace Accord 2005 and Need to Build Geopolitics Federalism in Sudan”, The Atlantic Journal of World Affairs, vol.2 no.1, January-March 2006; Hutchinson, Sharon E, “A Curse from God? Religious and Political Dimensions of the Post-1991 Rise of Ethnic Violence in South Sudan”, The Journal of Modern African Studies, vol. 39, no.2, 2001, p. 326. 5. Central Bureau of Statistics, Sudan, 2008; World Refugee Survey, 2009, UNHCR, United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, 2009 Oil and Gas in Sudan - Overview, http://www.mbendi.com/indy/oilg/af/su/p0005.htm 6. Goodman, Peter S, “China Invests Heavily In Sudan's Oil Industry”, Washington Post, December 23, 2004, p.A01; 7. Sudan–Industry, Encyclopedia of the Nations, available at, http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/Africa/Sudan-INDUSTRY.html 8. See, World Food Programme, Fighting Hunger worldwide, at, http://www.wfp.org/countries/sudan? gclid=CNqi3YnWyKQCFQlB6wodo2vhEg; 9. For details visit at, http://nda.nic.in/html/n International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Luis MorenoOcampo da-history.html 10. For list of bilateral visits from both the sides, see, “India and Sudan Partners in Development”, op. cit., 11. See, United Nations Treaty Series, vol. 1864, I-31733, pp. 13-17. 12. See, “India-Sudan Relations”, at, http://www.whatisindia.com/issues/sudanrel/indo-sudanrel_info.html 13. Ibid., 14. See, “India and Sudan Partners in Development”, op. cit., 15. See, Katy Salmon, “India Together “Fueling the killing fields”, at, http://www.indiatogether.org/humanrights/articles/sudan-ongc.htm; also see, Times of India Aug 5, 2004; Nivedita Ray, “Sudan Crisis: Exploring India's Role”, Strategic Analysis, vol.31, issue 1, January 2007. 16. Goodman, Peter S, “China Invests Heavily In Sudan's Oil Industry: Beijing Supplies Arms Used on Villagers”, Washington Post, December 23, 2004, p. A01
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