Development Is Not Staccato

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TELL Cover Page

It must have been with great reluctance that President Muhammadu Buhari attended a so-called India-Africa summit in New Delhi. Let us hold brief for the President here that he was there because he did not want to be seen as non-conformist. India gathering our leaders under a roof and behaving to them like a super power and an economic factor? I have my grouse as Africa descends farther into ignominy. An Asia-Africa summit would have been preferable because India was once in the same league with China, Brazil and Nigeria not so distant a time ago. And that was why the trip did not meet my expectation.

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But my reaction here groans about how badly Africa has fared in the last three decades.

In the 1960s, those of us who were already in the business of public affairs regarded India as a basket case. India imported grains and goods of different kinds because that country was poor. The quality of life in many African countries then was very high and except for the outrage of the civil war, Kwashiokor was unheard of in this land mass known as Nigeria.

But one woman changed the fortunes of that Asian subcontinent in the late 1960s because of her vision, sense of purpose and integrity. Mrs Indira Ghandi’s father, Pandit Nehru, on assuming the leadership of India had opted for socialism, seeing how that doctrine changed Russia from a feudal and backward state to a world power under a quarter of a century. But he was not bold enough to tackle entrenched traditions to submission. He tarried until he died and a more traditional peace seeker took over the mantle, but not addressing class struggle. Lalbur Shashri died suddenly in1965 and left more questions unanswered for their Congress Party. The lot later fell on this Oxford-trained lady born by a Cambridge-trained lawyer father. Indira Ghandi made Congress Party to adopt planning, fought the caste system, liberated the outcaste, empowered the poor with liberal government loans to farms, set targets for productions and pursued industrialisation. She freed India. India came on its own though she paid with her life for frontally attacking some of those backward issues…

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