There is immense potential for tech startups, social entrepreneurs and civil society organisations to develop into companions in India’s growth cooperation programmes.
This article is a part of the Global Policy-ORF publication — A 2030 Vision for India’s Economic Diplomacy.
Economic diplomacy is broadly outlined because the facet of diplomacy that focuses on worldwide financial relations. In the post-Second World War context, this has normally meant selling nationwide commerce, funding and expertise pursuits by means of aggressive bilateral negotiations and pushing the identical pursuits in multilateral establishments, such because the World Trade Organisation and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. Foreign help programmes have been added as a little bit of an afterthought to the principal goal of pursuing business objectives.
India’s strategy was totally different, and stemmed largely out of its personal colonial expertise and its need to assist different growing nations of their transition to independence. Within months of achieving its personal independence, India drew upon its sterling reserves to offer a significant mortgage to Burma (Myanmar) in 1948. It additionally supplied substantial growth help to Nepal following the autumn of the Rana dynasty in 1951. India additionally joined the Colombo Plan in 1950 to supply scholarships for coaching in Indian establishments even whereas Indians have been being despatched abroad on different coaching programmes. In 1960, India turned one of many founding members of the Special Commonwealth African Assistance Programme. By 1966, it turned the fifth largest contributor of scholarships to growing nations after the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
A concentrate on abilities growth and capability constructing remained the central tenet of India’s growth cooperation efforts throughout these early years. It acquired a proper construction in September 1964 by means of the institution of the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme (ITEC) as “it was necessary to establish relations of mutual concern and inter-dependence based not only on commonly held ideals and aspirations, but also on solid economic foundations. Technical and economic cooperation was one of the essential functions of an integrated and imaginative foreign policy.”
It was this formidable assertion of intent, carrying an uncommon mix of altruism and pragmatism, that set the foundations of contemporary India’s growth cooperation structure. Over the following 5 many years, India contributed to capability constructing in nations throughout Africa and South and Southeast Asia. The emphasis was largely on the institution of business estates and agriculture colleges, within the deployment of technical specialists for a spread of tasks, and within the coaching of an enormous variety of civil servants, technical personnel, docs, nurses, engineers and scientists below ITEC. In doing so, India made a transparent departure from the monetarist rules adopted by most Western donors, the place the emphasis was on macroeconomic stability and budgetary assist got here with strict conditionalities. India took the structuralist strategy, which argued that financial development in growing nations is held again by persistent provide bottlenecks relatively than macroeconomic instability.
A brand new dimension was added to India’s growth cooperation framework round 2005 with the beginning of its first substantive traces of credit score (LoCs) into Africa with a modest sum of US$ 500 million. With smooth rates of interest that included a grant factor starting from 24.31 p.c to 37.48 p.c backed by a sovereign assure, these LoCs contributed to the event of city transport, irrigation and energy transmission infrastructure in a number of African nations. India’s financial diplomacy additionally prolonged to its neighbourhood, with giant LoCs being introduced for Bangladesh and Sri Lanka specifically. By the top of 2019, India had dedicated as a lot as US$ 25.46 billion in LoCs to a spread of nations and likewise began to supply Buyer’s Credit to the tune of US$ 2.67 billion to encourage these nations to buy Indian merchandise.
Over the years, India’s growth cooperation mannequin began to point out some distinct options, specifically:
• Respect for the recipient nation’s sovereignty by staying away from prescriptive reform agendas and conditionalities
• Going with the recipient authorities’s priorities by way of mission choice
• Underscoring a mutuality of advantages, significantly in LoCs that require 75 p.c of the funds to be spent on gear and companies sourced from India
• Supporting capability constructing by means of coaching programmes. For occasion, the varied Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tasks within the type of Centres for Excellence — throughout the African continent, Southeast Asia and Central Asia — are constructed on a mannequin that features hand-holding for as much as 5 years after which transferring management to a neighborhood entity.
At the identical time, formidable however typically delayed connectivity tasks within the neighbourhood — spanning highway, rail and river transport networks together with oil pipelines and energy transmission grids — lastly began to take form below the direct supervision of the prime minister. India leveraged its satellite tv for pc capabilities to supply schooling and well being companies by means of the e-VidyaBharti and e-ArogyaBharti programmes throughout the African continent and expanded the ITEC programme to supply 12,000 fully-funded coaching slots in programs starting from cybersecurity and local weather change to entrepreneurship and schooling.
A extra dynamic and responsive strategy to growth cooperation enabled India to interact in distinctive medical diplomacy within the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Medical groups have been despatched to the Maldives, Nepal and Kuwait, and emergency consignments of medicines like paracetamol and hydroxychloroquine have been despatched to over 90 nations. This medical dimension of India’s financial diplomacy toolkit received an additional increase because the manufacturing infrastructure of the Serum Institute of India allowed the nation to launch its ‘Vaccine Maitri’ initiative to provide COVID-19 vaccines bilaterally on grant and business foundation, and multilaterally by means of the Covax programme.
The dramatic enlargement of India’s help programmes below the Development Partnership Administration inside the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) accompanied an equally vigorous push to the extra standard elements of business and multilateral financial diplomacy. India’s diplomatic missions turned actively engaged in organising commerce exhibits and ‘Make in India’ occasions; pursuing market entry and contesting non-tariff limitations; wooing multinational firms, non-public fairness corporations and sovereign funds to spend money on India; and pursuing oil concessions and power safety preparations. India’s participation in multilateral establishments despatched a transparent sign of its intent to take part in defining the brand new guidelines of the sport and never stay a passive spectator to guidelines framed by others.
Nevertheless, India should now confront recent challenges to its financial diplomacy. Globally, there are rising protectionist tendencies and a desire for bilateral over multilateral commerce preparations. A rising anti-immigration sentiment in main Western nations poses recent hurdles to labour mobility. With synthetic intelligence (AI), Fourth Industrial Revolution and 5G because the rising components of financial development, India should retool its financial diplomacy. Setting up NEST [New, Emerging & Strategic Technologies] as a brand new division within the MEA is a welcome initiative. If knowledge is the brand new oil, India should develop clear and clear home legal guidelines and establishments that create confidence in it being a protected vacation spot for knowledge processing. If local weather change turns into an existential matter and pandemics like COVID-19 threaten to ship the worldwide financial system right into a tailspin, India should lead the conversations on issues like resilient infrastructure to international well being. The impetus given by India to a world transition in direction of photo voltaic power is a working example — it not solely took the lead in establishing the International Solar Alliance, however has additionally now supplied LoCs price US$ 2 billion to fund photo voltaic power tasks in growing nations. India’s positions on these and different new areas of financial diplomacy shall be adopted carefully not simply by competing nations but additionally by companions within the growing world who depend on India’s advocacy to guard their very own important pursuits.
In this new financial diplomacy, you will need to forged a large web. Until now, a lot of India’s growth cooperation has occurred by means of state-to-state relations, typically carried out by means of state-owned enterprises. But there’s distinctive work being achieved by main civil society organisations (CSOs) in areas equivalent to schooling, healthcare and monetary inclusion. Several CSOs have developed fashions that may be scaled up and tailored in different growing nations. The rising demand from a number of nations for the Pratham mannequin of major college schooling, for the Jaipur foot to supply synthetic limbs, for the Barefoot College of ladies photo voltaic power technicians, for SEWA’s success in selling monetary empowerment of ladies, and for IndiaStack to configure Aadhaar-like options are instances in level.
Analysing choose startups, social enterprises and CSOs might help determine particular areas the place the vigorous involvement of such organisations can play a significant position in advancing India’s financial diplomacy objectives.
India has witnessed the emergence of a vibrant startup ecosystem that has piggybacked on the success and experience of the IT trade. The ecosystem is the third greatest on the planet with the fourth highest variety of unicorns, that are foraying aggressively into international markets to resolve challenges throughout a number of sectors.
Indian healthtech startups catering to diagnostic applied sciences, utilizing compact units and AI-powered software program as a service (SaaS) merchandise, can discover nice relevance in Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia. By enhancing effectivity and driving down prices of diagnoses, these startups can cater to the low-spending capacities of growing nations.
For occasion, UE LifeSciences’ low-cost gadget for the early detection of breast most cancers (iBreastExam) helps healthcare employees determine abnormalities in girls on the level of care and supplies outcomes inside 5 minutes on a cell utility. The survival price amongst girls with breast most cancers in Africa is way decrease than within the US and Europe as a result of detection occurs on the superior phases. Given the gadget’s transportable and compact nature, lots of of ladies might be scanned per day at distant places.
Table 1: List of Indian Healthtech Startups with Potential Relevance in Africa and Asia
|Organisation||Location||Core Function||More data|
|Nirmai)||Bengaluru||AI-based SaaS to detect breast most cancers||Developed a most cancers screening answer that makes use of Thermalytix. It detects breast most cancers at early phases .|
|Forus Health||Bengaluru||Pre-screening ophthalmological medical units||Develops and manufactures transportable and inexpensive medical units for efficient administration of visible well being by means of pre-screening ophthalmology.|
|Qure.Ai||Mumbai||AI-based SaaS merchandise to detect Tuberculosis and mind accidents||Qure.ai makes use of AI algorithms for medical imaging. Through deep studying applied sciences, skilled utilizing million pictures, their merchandise denitrify and localise abnormalities on X-Ray, CT and MRI scans.|
A non-invasive, transportable and absolutely automated
level of care screening gadget for fast detection of intracranial haemorrhage.
|Selected as part of the International Finance Corporation’s TechEmerge Health East Africa to pilot their tech options within the East African market.|
|Bempu Health||Bengaluru||Wearable units for maternal and youngster well being|
Coeco Labs has pioneered an
AI-based secretions and oral hygiene administration gadget and a neonatal Continuous Positive Airway Pressure gadget
|Bengaluru||Uses cloud and AI expertise to supply digital cardiology companies to distant clinics.|
India’s vibrant edtech ecosystem includes of 4,450 startups and is residence to the world’s highest-valued EdTech unicorn, Byju’s. Using English as the first mode of instruction, Indian edtech merchandise can scale globally. While Indian edtech can cater to varied ranges of schooling, analysis has proven that edtech interventions for major and secondary schooling in Africa are much more advanced and would require vital complementary actions from civil society to achieve success. Traditional Indian gamers like Byju’s can not discover instant relevance at scale, however edtech merchandise that cater to upskilling and tertiary schooling can. Along with its ITEC programme, India also needs to promote edtech startups (equivalent to Simplilearn and UpGrad) that enable African college students to remotely upskill at their very own tempo. Simplilearn supplies on-line coaching in disciplines equivalent to Cyber Security, Cloud Computing, Project Management, Digital Marketing, and Data Science. It has reached a million professionals and 1000 firms throughout 150 nations with certifications. In Africa, it has partnered with South Africa-based Deviare to supply digital skilling programmes for college students, professionals and enterprises and has obtained accreditation by South Africa’s Media, Information, and Communication Technologies Sector Education and Training Authority.
Several Indian innovators have designed low-cost enterprise options throughout a number of sectors for societal wellbeing. While a few of these options are solely for-profit ventures, others monetise the end-user for operational functions.
Husk energy methods
Husk energy methods (HPS) supplies off-grid energy to rural Indian villages by changing biomass waste into clear power. It prices lower than US$ 1,200 per kW to put in these methods, half the price of photo voltaic panels of an analogous scale. The firm additionally creates livelihoods by fostering first-generation energy plant entrepreneurs and a expertise workforce. Given Africa’s acute power deficit (see Figures 1 and a couple of), HPS’s mannequin can present off-grid entry to electrical energy whereas additionally creating livelihoods. HPS has already carried out tasks in Tanzania and Uganda.
Figure 1: Population with out Access to Electricity, 2019
Figure 2: Proportion of Rural Population with Access to Electricity, 2019
Waterlife has pioneered a spread of environmentally-friendly and cost-effective applied sciences that transcend the usual reverse osmosis process and are fitted otherwise to cater to the scale of the neighborhood, their consuming wants and the extent of water contamination. The firm has put in 4,000 neighborhood water filtration methods throughout 12 Indian states, immediately impacting 13 million individuals.
Aravind Eye Care
Aravind Eye Care is the most important and most-efficient eye care supplier globally. Its easy enterprise and operation fashions enable for surgical procedures to be carried out six occasions quicker than the nationwide common, with over half of all sufferers (who come from poor and rural households) accessing high-quality care for free of charge.
Aravind’s meeting line surgical procedure mannequin — the place labour is damaged up for numerous duties, and every ophthalmologist is supported by 5 – 6 paramedic workers to carry out routine duties whereas the previous focuses on vital procedures — has improved productiveness ranges.
Aravind’s mannequin has been replicated by means of collaborations in Ethiopia, Kenya, Zambia and Nigeria.
Table 2: Social Entrepreneurs with Potential Relevance in Africa and Asia
|Organisations||City||Sector and Area of experience||Notes|
|Education Initiatives||Ahmedabad, Bangalore|
Undertake giant scale scholar and trainer assessments to enhance trainer capacities and studying outcomes.
|Pioneered Mindspark — a personalised adaptive studying (PAL) EdTech product — which is globally thought-about as essentially the most promising EdTech product and has proven an enchancment in college students studying outcomes by 200-250%.|
|TIDE Learning||Bangalore||Okay-12 Education||Encourages self-paced studying by bringing distinctive educating studying methodologies.|
|Krishna Arya Tech Corp||Clean Energy||Pioneered the ‘Annapoorna cookstove,’ a zero-emission, low-cost, and power environment friendly cooking answer that reduces biomass emissions.|
Civil society organisations
CSOs have been an integral a part of India’s developmental journey, serving areas the place the state and markets have failed to achieve. While they clear up issues contextualised to native settings, their learnings and classes might be scaled within the growing world, or a minimum of encourage and supply concepts for counterparts in these areas.
Swayam Shikshan Prayog
Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP) promotes inclusive sustainable growth by empowering girls in low-income and climate-threatened communities and areas. SSP’s mannequin transforms girls into entrepreneurs to deal with advanced challenges throughout sectors equivalent to well being, water and sanitation, power, meals safety and agriculture. SSPs work has empowered 200,000 girls and impacted six million households in 2,200 drought-hit villages throughout seven states in India.
Given that a number of African nations are susceptible to drought, SSP’s work and learnings can discover relevance within the continent.
Pratham Education Foundation
Pratham is thought for pioneering two high-quality, low-cost and replicable interventions to plug gaps in schooling methods — the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER; a citizen-led survey that collects knowledge on studying outcomes of 600,000 youngsters throughout rural India) and Teaching on the Right Level (TaRL) programme. ASER is the one supply of knowledge on youngsters’s studying outcomes within the nation, and has had a significant impression on nationwide coverage and discourse. Organisations from 13 nations in Latin America, Africa and Asia are designing and implementing ASER surveys by means of the People’s Action for Learning (PAL) Network –– a south-south community of organisations from three continents which might be replicating and adapting Pratham’s ASER work in assessing studying outcomes.
TaRL builds foundational abilities in numeracy and literacy in youngsters with insufficient studying ranges, an issue that’s frequent in all growing nations. TaRL has been institutionalised in Africa as a joint initiative by Pratham and Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, and is working in 10 nations within the continent by means of native companions. The intervention is being funded by the US Agency for International Development. It works immediately with governments in Nigeria, Cote D’Ivoire and Zambia.
Operation ASHA (OA) goals to eradicate tuberculosis (TB) by fixing the ‘last mile’ downside by means of community-based and technology-aided high-quality doorstep prognosis and therapy companies.
OA establishes neighborhood centres in city slums in partnership with area people entrepreneurs, unemployed expertise, retailers or spiritual establishments to serve 5,000-25,000 individuals inside a 1.5-km radius. In rural areas, good younger adults from inside the neighborhood are onboarded to make sure prognosis and care of TB sufferers by transporting important medicines to sufferers’ houses, monitoring compliance and aiding sufferers if journey to well being services is important.
The value of therapy per TB affected person by OA is US$ 80 in India as in comparison with US$ 1,900 per affected person in Cambodia, US$ 3,575 in South Africa, US$ 14,059 within the European Union and US$ 17,000 within the US. OA’s mannequin has been replicated in lots of different nations equivalent to Cambodia. Given the excessive prevalence of TB in Africa, OA’s work and international expertise may very well be important for the continent.
There is immense potential for tech startups, social entrepreneurs and CSOs to develop into companions in India’s growth cooperation programmes. Proactively partnering with such organisations carries a number of distinct benefits:
• Leverages the eagerness, creativity, dynamism and area information of specialists who’ve demonstrated the success of their fashions in India and could also be eager on taking these to different nations
• Outcome-driven strategy and grassroots understanding of key growth challenges is more likely to ship higher outcomes
• Since such organisations have entry to different sources of capital and don’t depend on authorities funds alone, their engagement in growth tasks shall be less expensive than the standard reliance on state-owned enterprises who depend on full authorities funding for such tasks.
• By selling such organisations because the entrance finish of its growth cooperation efforts, India shall be placing its finest foot ahead. There is a world of distinction between the motivation ranges, flexibility and dealing strategies of those organisations when put next with the bureaucratic rigidities of state-owned enterprises. This, in flip, will promote Brand India and add to India’s smooth energy
• By introducing these organisations as brokers of change in different growing nations, India has the chance to nurture international champions who’ve the bandwidth and scale to handle rising challenges
Several tech startups have the potential to alter the event paradigm by means of their impression on the entry and inexpensive supply of schooling and healthcare. However, you will need to recognise the constraints inherent in relying excessively on technology-oriented initiatives in rising economies in Africa and Asia that usually undergo from lack of electrical energy or dependable web. But Africa and Asia are additionally seeing speedy urbanisation and the expansion of an aspirational center class. Their cities have began to get dependable electrical energy and web companies, whilst many rural areas stay laggards on this regard. Until the agricultural areas catch up, tech startups are more likely to work finest in city conditions whereas the grassroots strategy of social entrepreneurs like Aravind Eye Centre or CSOs like Pratham shall be simpler in plugging the gaps in much less developed areas. A growth cooperation agenda that recognises the strengths and limitations of every actor can tailor programmes that deal with the wants throughout a broad spectrum of the inhabitants.
 Sachin Chaturvedi and Anthea Mulakala, “Introduction,” in India’s Approach to Development Cooperation, eds Sachin Chaturvedi and Anthea Mulakala (London: Routledge, 2016), xxxi-xxxv.
 Kumar Tuhin, “India’s Development Cooperation through Capacity Building,” in India’s Approach to Development Cooperation, eds Sachin Chaturvedi and Anthea Mulakala (London: Routledge, 2016), pp. 29-44.
 Tuhin, “India’s Development Cooperation through Capacity Building,” pp. 30
 Tuhin, “India’s Development Cooperation through Capacity Building,” pp. 31
 Saroj Kumar Mohanty, “Shaping India’s Development Cooperation: India’s Mission Approach in a Theoretical Framework,” in India’s Approach to Development Cooperation, eds Sachin Chaturvedi and Anthea Mulakala (London: Routledge, 2016), pp. 1-13.
 Persis Taraporevala and Rani D. Mullen, India-Africa Brief: Courting Africa through Economic Diplomacy, New Delhi, Center for Policy Research, 2013.
 EXIM Bank Official, e-mail to authors, 15 January 2021.
 Jayajit Dash., “Exim Bank’s LoC Scheme to See Fresh Commitments Worth $20 Billion by 2025,” Business Standard, 6 March 2020.
 Manmohan Agarwal, “Aid in India’s economic development cooperation,” in India’s Approach to Development Cooperation, eds Sachin Chaturvedi and Anthea Mulakala (London: Routledge, 2016), pp. 14-28.
 Prabodh Saxena, “India’s credit lines,” in India’s Approach to Development Cooperation, eds Sachin Chaturvedi and Anthea Mulakala (London: Routledge, 2016), pp. 60-78.
 Agarwal, “Aid in India’s economic development cooperation,”pp. 14
 Embassy of India in Senegal, “Opportunities for bilateral cooperation in Education sector,” Embassy of India, Dakar, Senegal.
 Emma Mawdsley and Supiya Roychowdhury, “Civil society organisations and Indian developmental assistance: emerging roles for commentators, collaborators and critics,” in India’s Approach to Development Cooperation, eds Sachin Chaturvedi and Anthea Mulakala (London: Routledge, 2016), pp. 79-93.
 “India emerges 3rd largest ecosystems for successful startups,” Times of India, 17 October 2019.
 Vasist Sharma, “Two-Thirds Of ‘Indian’ Unicorns Aren’t Based In India,” Bloomberg Quint, 5 August 2020.
 Axelrod, “Meet Our New Innovators”
 International Finance Corporation, Cultivating a Love of Learning in K-12, BYJU’S: How a Learning App is Promoting Deep Conceptual Understanding that is Improving Educational Outcomes in India, Washington DC, World Bank Group, 2018.
 “Simplilearn Strengthens International Presence Partners With South Africa-Based Deviare Pty Ltd.,” The Week, 18 September 2019.
 “Simplilearn Strengthens International Presence Partners With South Africa-Based Deviare Pty Ltd.”
 Manoj Sinha, “Seeking an End to Energy Starvation (Innovations Case Narrative: Husk Power Systems),” Innovations: Technology, Governance, Globalization 6, no. 3 (2011).
 International Energy Agency, SDG7: Data and Projections on Access to Electricity and Clean Cooking, Paris, International Energy Agency, 2020.
 “SDG7: Data and Projections on Access to Electricity and Clean Cooking”
 Jubilant Bhartiya Foundation, A decade of recognizing entrepreneurs who make change happen, Jubliant Bharatiya Foundation and Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, 2019.
 Aravind Krishnan, “Aravind Eye-Care System – McDonaldization of Eye-Care,” Technology and Operations Management, HBS Digital Initiative, 10 December 2015.
 Megan Leahy, Aravind Eye Care: Contributing to global capacity building of eye care personnel, Business Call to Action.
 Krishnan, “Aravind Eye-Care System”
 “Aravind Eye Care: Contributing to global capacity building of eye care personnel”
 “A decade of recognizing entrepreneurs who make change happen”
 Anurag Reddy, “Embedding Technology in Education: The Potential of India’s Solutions in East Africa,” ORF Occasional Paper, Issue No. 306, March 2021.
 The Bridgespan Group, Changing the Public Discourse on School Learning: The Annual Status of Education Report, Mumbai, The Bridgespan Group, 2018.
 “Changing the Public Discourse on School Learning”
 “TaRL in Action”
 “Operation ASHA: Scaling Up to Eradicate Tuberculosis in 25 Years,” The Wharton School.