Accepted paper:

India's soft power in East Africa: opportunities and challenges

Authors:

Muhidin Shangwe (University of Dar es Salaam)

Paper short abstract:

India's soft power in Africa is usually pitted against that of the US and China. Yet, like the two, its soft power rests on making use of attributes such as political ideals at home, aid in its variant forms, culture and foreign policy, without conforming to Washington or Beijing's way.

Paper long abstract:

Ever since Joseph Nye introduced the idea of soft power in academia in the early 1990s, it has attracted keen interest especially in the emerging economies. Perhaps aware of their hard power deficit, soft power has been embraced as an important element of influence in countries which are looking to charm the globe. It is in this context that India's soft power in East Africa is discussed. This paper seeks to understand New Delhi's soft power potential in the African sub region at the time when the Asian country is engaging Africa with rejuvenated rigor and vigor. The potential of India's soft power in Africa is usually pitted against that of the United States on one hand, and China on the other. Indeed India's soft power in Africa is attributed to New Delhi's ability to attract essentially without having to conform to the American or the Chinese way. In practice, however, India's third way, like that of Washington and Beijing, manifests by making use of a combination of attributes such as its political ideals at home, aid in its variant forms, culture and foreign policy. This paper therefore investigates the extent to which these attributes are shaping the relations between India and East African countries by focusing on the "soft aspects" of the relationship. To arrive to this end, the paper also identifies and discusses the challenges facing India in its soft power promotion in East Africa.

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