The relationship should take into account the new challenges that have emerged, S Jaishankar said

India and Kenya are important diplomatic partners and the completion of renovation of the Mahatma Gandhi Library at the University of Nairobi is also a time to reflect on the larger significance of the relationship between both sides, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Monday.

Speaking at the inauguration of the refurbished Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Library at the University of Nairobi, Jaishankar said, “Today, as the renovation of the library stands completed and generations of Kenyan students will find it useful in their quest for knowledge, I can say that we have delivered on that promise. And I must thank all those, all those in Kenya, all those in India, in High Commissions, in the Ministries, in the university most of all who have made that possible.”

“But this is not just a moment for self-congratulation; it is also a time to reflect on the larger significance of the relationship between India and Kenya. As you all know, India’s association with this University goes back decades and the very memory of Mahatma Gandhi was meant to underline our strong solidarity. It also reminds us of the Kenyans with Indian heritage who have contributed so much to this University’s growth and success. In the decades that have passed, this sentiment has not diminished,” he added.

Noting that there are numerous other activities that involve human resources and nurturing talent that stand as testimony to our deep bonds, EAM Jaishankar said, "In education and capacity building, you have heard from other speakers, since 1960s, Indian universities have hosted many young Kenyans who have risen to important positions in various fields. Every year, the Government of India offers more than 400 scholarships to Kenyans. Even during the pandemic, we continued to maintain this relationship virtually through activities like the e-ITEC course that was recently conducted for the Kenyan Postal Department officers.”

Further he said that another example is the collaboration between the Indian Oil Corporation and the University of Nairobi in building key competencies in refinery process and technologies through online courses.

“These illustrations should evoke a discussion on how we wish to refashion our relationship for contemporary times. I believe that the core continues to be the solidarity forged by our shared struggle last century. But they must also take into account the new challenges that have emerged since,” he said.

India and Kenya have stood with each other during the Covid-19 pandemic. The direct lesson from the pandemic is the need today, the pressing need for decentralized globalization, Jaishankar said.

Noting that the sense of security between both sides has also undergone a radical change, Jaishankar said, “We now perceive health and food security as far more central. This makes a compelling case for enhancing capacities in Africa. And that would only happen when partnerships genuinely aimed at Africa’s welfare deliver more extensively on development projects. Indeed, development itself will only unfold when it is based on deeper capacities.”

The EAM pointed out that the rise of modern Africa is not just a noble sentiment; it is a long-awaited expectation, even a profound calculation.

“It is only when this continent of more than a billion people takes its rightful place that the full diversity of our planet will find proper expression. It is then that we can justifiably declare that the world is truly multipolar. Decisions made by the international community will be truly global only when Africa’s voice is adequately heard. And that must happen most of all by reform in leading bodies like the UN Security Council where today India and Kenya have Non Permanent membership,” he said.

Reiterating that India stands with Africa, Jaishankar said, “Within our capacities, we have partnered with as much as a large heart as an open mind. Your priorities guide our initiatives. We have faced the challenges of the world together, especially when it came to public health. Indeed, another of Prime Minister Modi’s commitments during the memorable visit- to provide anti-TB and anti-HIV drugs- was implemented as effectively as this one. And there is so much more that can and must be done, especially in a world that is recovering from the Covid pandemic.”

EAM Jaishankar, who is on a visit to Kenya, on Monday also held a meeting with Kenyan top leaders and discussed building a comprehensive partnership between the two countries at the Ministerial Roundtable.

The Ministerial Roundtable, chaired by Kenyan Foreign Minister Raychelle Omamo, reviewed all aspects of the bilateral relationship.

After the meeting, Jaishankar in a tweet thanked the senior ministers for their valuable contributions and appreciated the “ideas, enthusiasm and commitment" of all the participants.