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Why Narendra Modi’s Rwanda visit and 200 cows matter

By gifting 200 cows to Rwandan villagers, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has pipped Chinese president Xi Jinping to get an edge in the ‘battle for Africa’

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Image: PIB

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and Chinese supremo Xi Jinping just visited Rwanda, and what really matters is Modi’s gift of 200 cows to Rwandan villagers

Twitter laughs at Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s gift of 200 cows to Rwandan villagers–the headline of a story goes like this on a leading Indian news website, trolling him for gifting cows to the people who eat beef. But the story is beyond that, at least in economic terms, and it assumes great significance when it comes to deal with the new global trade order from an Indian perspective.

Why did Modi gift 200 cows to the villagers in Rweru Model village of Rwanda? What is the significance of Modi’s visit to Rwanda, a landlocked, tiny East African country? The answer might be China and its ‘ambitious’ goal of becoming the new world leader.

Just before the visit of Indian prime minister Modi, Xi Jinping, the patriarch of Communist China, had concluded his Rwandan visit, which resulted in 15 crucial agreements between the two countries in different sectors.

China has offered around 126 million dollar to Rwanda for infrastructure development which includes a road construction project.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi donates 200 cows under “Girinka” at Rweru Model village in Rwanda on July 24, 2018. The president of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, is also seen. Image/PIB

This time for Africa

Modi has just become the first Indian prime minister to visit Rwanda. Xi was also the first Chinese leader to visit this African nation of 12 million people. These are not just coincidences.

The African nations including South Africa and Rwanda are engaged in a tough mission of reviving their economies. Exploring the possibilities in Africa, China has been playing well there, pouring in massive investments for projects in diverse sectors.

China’s investment strategy in Africa have got an aggressive tone, dwarfing India, and challenging the US

This needs to be analysed in the backdrop of China’s economic invasion plan, which is widely celebrated as the trillion-dollar Belt Road Initiative (BRI).

As Xi Jinping has started a tough face-off with US president Donald Trump, China wants to strengthen its trade base in more countries.

China’s investments in Africa have acquired an aggressive tone, dwarfing India, and challenging the US.  Countries like Rwanda are taking an anti-Trump approach for their own reasons, looking at countries like India and China as alternative options to bolster their economy amid negative indicators.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi donates 200 cows under “Girinka” at Rweru Model village in Rwanda on July 24, 2018. The president of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, is also seen. Image/PIB

Catching up with China in the African continent is strategically important for India in the post-Trump era. And that marked the very significance of Modi’s visit to Rwanda and his meeting with its president Paul Kagame, who is also the head of the African Union, the prime league of 55 countries with a combined gross domestic product of 2.5 trillion dollar. The figure itself explains the economic importance of Africa.

Diplomacy and cows

As I mentioned earlier, Rwanda is on a transition path, in an economic revival mode. Rwandan Government’s Girinka programme is also a part of that, empowering the poor people in villages with cows. Like in India, cows have economic and cultural tones in Rwanda too.

The Girinka programme has developed with a noble aim of transforming the life of rural villagers in Rwanda. As of 2016, a total of 248,566 cows had been distributed to villagers.  So, gifting 200 cows as part of this programme was a masterstroke by Modi to develop an emotional connect with the people there.

While speaking at the event, Modi was enthusiastic about pointing out the similarities in the rural ecosystem of India and Rwanda, and the importance of cows in the cultures of both nations. More than the 200 million dollar financial aid package from Modi, Rwandans value the gift of cows.  That’s where Modi scored over Xi in the ‘African Challenge’.

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Why China is the most protectionist economy in the world

The communist nation is the most successful champion of protectionism in the recent economic history

Dipin Damodharan

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Illustration/Jijin M K/The Indic Post

The world will hear very positive voices against protectionism at the informal meeting of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and Chinese president Xi Jinping in Wuhan, China, declared China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang, on April 23, 2018. Before that, Chinese commerce minister Zhong Shan wrote in People’s Daily, “China opposes all forms of protectionism.”

After Wuhan, Modi and Xi again met in Johannesburg, South Africa, on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in the last week of July. That was the third meeting between the two powerful leaders in the last four months.

Xi had called on BRICS countries to oppose the increasing push for protectionism in Johannesburg. I have no intention to decode the so-called positive voices against protectionism at these ‘peripheral’ meetings.

However, it is intriguing to focus on the new buzzword of China. Of late, Chinese leaders and their media outlets have shown great affinity towards the word protectionism. The above statements on this term need to be viewed in the context of the continuing trade war between the US and China. Communist China is claiming, indeed an insincere assertion with great irony, they are waging a battle against protectionism.

The communist nation is the most successful champion of protectionism in the recent economic history.

One point is right, absolutely. Donald Trump’s protectionism is a two-faced yet futile attempt to make America great again. As the US President has set off the trade war with China by imposing tariffs on $ 34 billion-goods US imports from China, Xi Jinping is on the back-foot now, fearing a colossal setback for Chinese companies in the US market.

The massive drop in the valuation of ZTE, China’s second largest telecommunications supplier, after the US banned American companies from selling components to the telecoms equipment maker for seven years, showed the impact well. But surprisingly, Trump changed his mind later to save the Chinese firm that was accused of selling sensitive information to Iran and North Korea.

Donald Trump. Image/Victoria Borodinova/Pixabay

There’s little doubt that the trade war would be disastrous for China than the US. The projected change in the dynamics of India-China relationship is shaped by Trump’s insane acts of hyper-national trade policy, which has been challenging the liberal world order since his coronation in January 2017.

Now the communist commentators are saying China and India must build new unity to reform old global order. But the million-dollar question is how the ultra-protectionist China can lead a battle against protectionism.

China’s unstoppable economic invasion to developed and low-income countries in the guise of technology and infrastructure has strong political overtones.  The Sri Lankan episode is a classic example. When China offered Sri Lanka more money than it can pay back, the Lankans failed to realize that it was a debt trap. Now, 70 percent stake of strategically important Hambantota port of Sri Lanka belongs to China. The dragon has also got a lease agreement for 99 years.

And, Djibouti is going to become the latest country to fall into China’s debt trap. Even in India, Chinese technology firms are ruling the roost, whether it’s Xiaomi, Oppo, or Vivo.

BRI is a well-crafted blue print to make China a colonial superpower, the dream of their new Mao Xi Jinping.

More than just supporting the tech firms, China wants to nationalise it for achieving their fascist goals. “Communist Party committees have been installed at many tech firms, reviewing everything from operations to compliance with national goals,” wrote Christopher Balding, associate professor of business and economics at the HSBC Business School in Shenzhen, on Bloomberg.

China is exploring strategic possibilities by lending billions of dollars to developing countries under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). And this BRI is a well-crafted blue print to make China a colonial superpower, the dream of their new Mao Xi Jinping.

On one side China is opening up the new road to a fascist world order, contradictory to the ideals of liberalisation and globalisation, and on the other side Xi Jinping wants the world to believe that he’s championing the cause of free market as the US is stepping back.

Communist China never wishes to create an open society, and the motto of protectionism seems increasingly apt for them. Why did China say no to Facebook? This simple question will expose their hullabaloo over protectionism. China is a closed society, no matter whatever economic progress it has achieved so far.

Xi Jinping

The communist nation is the most successful champion of protectionism in the recent economic history. Protectionism with aggressive nationalist characteristics is the mantra behind the spectacular show of billion-dollar Chinese companies.

Even some of the poster-boys of Indian startup revolution last year desperately wished that India should take an approach of protecting local companies like China did.

Moreover, the statements made by China in frequent intervals show no intention to back out from their anti-India military agenda, especially when it comes to issues like Doklam and Arunachal Pradesh. India is not going to gain anything substantially by teaming up with China for protectionism and free trade. India needs to tell China that protectionism in all forms should be rejected.

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The president is right; universities are not just degree factories

India needs to develop an entrepreneurship-oriented higher education ecosystem to take her growth to next level

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Indian president Ram Nath Kovind presenting medal to a student at the 7th Convocation of IIT, Hyderabad. Image/PIB

The speed of fourth industrial revolution seems to be amazing. Changes are happening in an unprecedented manner, revolutionising every area of public life with great impact.

And the conventional mode of learning needs to be restructured in this manner. Education methodologies have to be shaped as per the standards of emerging technologies which include Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning.

The 21st century will be crafted by the ideals of fourth industrial revolution

The president of India, Ram Nath Kovind, got right about the change. While speaking at the seventh convocation of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Hyderabad, on August 05, 2018, he emphasized this particular point. As he said India’s aspirations are no longer limited to the heavy industrial base that the nation built in the past.

The 21st century will be crafted by the ideals of fourth industrial revolution. Obviously, institutions like IITs have to remain relevant to the ecosystem of Industry 4.0.

“Colleges, universities and other higher institutions of learning are not degree factories. They are sources of innovation and incubators of technology-driven startups,” the president said at the convocation. He also pointed out the example of Silicon Valley in the US to promote a culture of innovation in the higher education space.

It needs to be noted that the resounding success of Silicon Valley as the global hub of entrepreneurship is the result of Stanford University’s unparalleled contribution to ignite the innovation spirit among young entrepreneurs.

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Xi Jinping’s UAE visit is very much a part of China’s economic invasion

China is making smart moves to increase its influence in the Arab world, and the visit of Communist supremo Xi Jinping to the UAE matters a lot

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Image: en.kremlin.ru. Illustration by Jijin MK/The Indic Post

China has been making inroads in the UAE with a well-crafted plan that projects its controversial mega infrastructure plan, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), as a fillip to bolster the Arab state economically and culturally.  Indeed, the bilateral trade between China and the UAE has attained great momentum for the last few years.  The maiden visit of Chinese president Xi Jinping to the UAE is also a reflection of that.

Xi Jinping arrived in Abu Dhabi on Thursday, July 19, with a long term vision to strengthen the ties with the Gulf state at all possible levels. The UAE gave Xi a grand reception in style, bestowed with the Order of Zayed, UAE’s highest civil decoration, and assured all support to strengthen bilateral trade and investment.

“Xi Jinping’s visit to the UAE has marked a new stage in the strategic partnership,” said UAE vice president and prime minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

China’s Xi Jinping and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid/Dubai Media Office

Sheikh Mohammed, who is also the ruler of Dubai, appreciated Xi for selecting the UAE as the first destination of his foreign tour after his re-election as the president of the Communist state for another term.  Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy supreme commander of the UAE Armed Forces, also echoed the same view of Sheikh Mohammed on China.

Xi has been striving hard to make BRI a reality, pouring in billions of dollars as investment to many countries, forcing the developing countries to get tangled up in the debt-trap. It seems his Mission UAE is also a part of that debt-trap diplomacy

According to him, the UAE-China relations are not just limited to political and trade sectors. It extends to culture, education and people-to-people links. So what’re the implications of this much celebrated visit of Xi Jinping to the UAE?

The Belt Road initiative

China is more aggressive under the leadership of Xi Jinping. And he has a bold yet dangerous mission to become the new superpower in the world, in both economic and political terms, as president Donald Trump has been engaged in taking the US out of all global contexts. Xi’s trump card is what we call the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the most powerful tool for China’s infrastructure invasion to other countries.

As BRI is now a part of the China’s constitution, Xi has been striving hard to make it a reality, pouring in billions of dollars as investment to many countries, forcing the developing countries to get tangled up in the debt-trap. It seems his Mission UAE is also a part of that debt-trap diplomacy.

The trade between China and the UAE has been on the rise, accounting 50 billion annually. As UAE has become an attractive destination for Chinese investors, it is expected to grow to 70 billion dollar by 2020. Chinese investors, with the full-bodied support of their government, are exploring all the possibilities to print their mark in the Arab state, which is also a prime source for China’s energy needs.

Look at the deals materialised just ahead of Xi’s visit, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, a state-owned firm, had released contracts worth 1.6 billion dollar to BGP Inc, a subsidiary of China National Petroleum Company. The deal is aimed at a seismic survey in Abu Dhabi.

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Xi Jinping and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum/Dubai Media Office

DP World, leading UAE-based global port operator, signed a deal with Zhejiang China Commodities City Group to build a new trade zone in Dubai’s Jebel Ali free zone just ahead of Xi’s arrival.

The trade zone is widely projected as a boost to China’s Belt Road Initiative, helping China-based manufacturing companies trade across the West Asia and Indian Subcontinent.  Dubai-based Emaar group, headed by prominent businessman Mohamed Alabbar, Wednesday (July 18) announced plans to build the largest Chinatown in the Gulf region at the Dubai Creek Harbour.

This has to be seen in the backdrop of Xi Jinping’s recent pledge of financial aid to the Arab states. It was on July 10 Xi Jinping pledged $20 billion as loans to the Arab nations for their revival, plus a package of $106 million as financial aid.

Notably, the number of Chinese tourists visiting the UAE, especially Dubai, is increasing at a rapid pace for the last few years, making the Communist state the fourth largest visitor source market for Dubai.

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