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Army chief’s visit to Tanzania spotlights India’s rocking Global South story

India gifted a 'Made in India' Infantry Simulator and bulletproof jackets to Tanzania Peoples Defence Forces (Image courtesy: ADGPI)

Army Chief General Manoj Pande’s ongoing visit to Tanzania – one of India’s reliable partners on the east coast of Africa – is yet another major step towards enhancing the security of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of SAGAR – Safety and Growth for All in the Region.

General Pande’s itinerary – that includes visits to not just the Tanzanian capital of Dar es Salaam, but also Zanzibar and Arusha – comes just a few months after the two countries agreed to a five-year roadmap for defence cooperation.

As reported by IndiaNarrative.com, the second edition of the Joint Defence Cooperation Committee (JDCC) held in Arusha on June 28 and 29, focused on a wide range of opportunities for collaboration with a view to enhancing security in the IOR.

Major General Fadhil Omary Nondo, Land Force Commander of Tanzania Peoples Defence Forces (TPDF) had led the Tanzanian side.

During the meeting, the Indian delegation which was headed by Joint Secretary Amitabh Prasad and included not only senior officials from the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces but also representatives from defence Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs), spotlighted the growing prowess of its defence manufacturing to export to friendly countries.

In August 2022, Tanzania’s Defence Minister Stergomena Lawrence Tax, who later became the country’s Foreign Minister, visited India and held talks with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. She also visited various Indian defence PSUs, including Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL), to get a first-hand view of indigenous weapons and equipment.

On Monday, the Tanzanian Defence Minister was the chief guest at the second ‘India-Tanzania Mini Defence Expo’ at Dar es Salaam – an event which saw participation from the TPDF military hierarchy and defence industries from India – where Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Pande delivered a keynote address and spoke on New Delhi’s ‘make in India, make for the world’ capability under the ‘Atamnirbhar Bharat’ initiative.

India gifted a ‘Made in India’ Infantry Simulator and bulletproof jackets to TPDF as General Pande held separate meetings with Tax, Tanzania’s Chief of Defence Force General Jacob John Mkunda and three service chiefs of the TPDF with discussions revoloving around enhancing bilateral defence cooperation and strengthening bonds of friendship between the two armies.

It was decided that the engagements between the Indian and Tanzanian armed forces will be bolstered in all spheres, including joint exercises, training, defence exports and long-term partnership.

Earlier, the Indian Army chief began his visit to the country by visiting the CommonWealth War memorial in Dar es Salaam and paying obeisance to the Indian soldiers who laid down their lives during WWI in East Africa in line of duty for defending global peace and security.

“Both the Indian and Tanzanian Army offer vacancies for each other in professional military courses. This has helped the personnel from both countries build strong bonds, exchange ideas and share best practices. The Tanzanian Army has been consistently participating in the UN Peacekeeping training in India over the last five years. Similarly, a Training Team of the Indian Army has been deployed at Command and Staff College, Duluti since year 2017,” the Indian Defence Ministry said in a statement on Monday.

Tanzania is a natural and effective transportation gateway into Eastern, Southern and Central Africa with its three deepwater ports in Dar es Salaam, Tanga and Mtwara that service six landlocked neighbouring countries of Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia and Malawi.

It is bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north; Rwanda, Burundi and Congo to the west; and, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique in the south. To the east, it borders the Indian Ocean.

The Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII), which is launching the India–Middle East–Europe Economic Corridor, is also looking at connecting the Trans-African Corridor to Tanzania and, ultimately, the Indian Ocean.

India, an all-weather friend of Africa, has been giving resonance to the voice of the Global South during its ongoing G20 Presidency and has always maintained that developing longstanding people-to-people links with the African countries will be its top priority.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announcing the African Union – a grouping made up of 55 member states representing all the countries on the African continent – as the new permanent member of G20 was one of the standout moments of the G20 Leaders’ Summit hosted by New Delhi, last month.

Also Read: Weapons to blue economy — India ready to strengthen Tanzania like never before