India's Development Web Header

India’s Development Diplomacy & Soft Power in Africa


Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions for the African Griot! Can you please begin by giving a brief overview of your new book India’s Development Diplomacy & Soft Power in Africa?

Our book focusses on two themes.

First, we seek to understand how Africa is imagined by Indian actors – diplomats, civil society, ordinary citizens, and policy players. We argue that the idea of Africa is changing in the Indian imagination, as India seeks to refashion itself as a major global power and extend its influence beyond its neighbourhood in South Asia. Previously, India’s imagined its relations with Africa as a partnership of equals, as both were postcolonial geographies which inherited particular disadvantages in the liberal capitalist order immediately after independence. This conception has now changed, because the Indian political elite believe that the nation has a special role to play in the world after the successes of economic neo-liberalisation; and against the backdrop of the rise of the political right in India. 

Second, we look at how Indian actors deploy their soft power in Africa. We show through the book that soft power is not necessarily deployed only by state actors, but a number of non-state actors, like the diaspora and some private sector players, at the behest of the state or independently. Indian soft power encompasses several modalities – from cultural influences of Bollywood; to educational and health diplomacy, and the initiatives of the diaspora. State actors are increasingly seeking to incorporate elements into cultural diplomacy from what they consider to be ancient Indic traditional wisdom to signify Indian exceptionalism – which for them is the nation’s unique ability to exist as a powerhouse of frugal scientific innovation and as a continuation of an ancient civilization. We also explore the controversies associated with the symbolism of Gandhi in Africa – which has long been deployed by Indian actors to signify Indian values, the nation’s postcolonial identity, and a sense of southern solidarity with Africa.

By interrogating the experiences and reactions of African users of India’s soft power, we seek to understand how cultural and social relations between Indians and Africans are constituted through a myriad of encounters.   

India’s Development Diplomacy & Soft Power in Africa

£25 / $34.95
November 2021
James Currey

Special African Griot Price

£15 / $20.97

Use code: BB996

Related Titles:

Use BB996 to enjoy 40% off these titles!

KENNETH KING is Professor Emeritus at the University of Edinburgh, and former Director of its Centre of African Studies, and author of China’s Aid and Soft Power in Africa (2013). MEERA VENKATACHALAM is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for African Studies at the University of Mumbai, and co-editor of India-Africa Partnerships for Food Security and Capacity Building: South-South Cooperation (2021).