New Delhi/Kolkata: With Africa becoming a major growth pole of the world economy, the
resource-rich continent and its growing relationship with India
have sparked a new interest among Indian students who are opting
for Africa studies in increasingly large numbers.
From its rich cultural heritage to booming economy, cinema
industry or the civic movements, everything about Africa seems to
have fired the imagination of Indian students.
Abhishek Singh, a Master of Philosophy (M.Phil) student at Jamia
Millia Islamia (JMI) in New Delhi, plans to do extended research
on the developing model of trade between India and Africa.
"I want to do deep research on the growing demand for developing
infrastructure and new technologies in Africa and how it provides
opportunities for Indian business. I want to become a researcher
on India-African business."
Currently, bilateral trade between India and Africa stands at
about $45 billion. At the second India-Africa Forum Summit, the
two sides seek to scale it up to $70 billion by 2015.
Akanksha Kukreti, a former media student at JMI, who wished to
become a filmmaker, wants to study the booming film industry in
Nigeria. For Shyambhavi Saxsena, a student of Master of Arts (MA)
in Delhi University (DU), the African civil society movements are
a model to the rest of the world and she plans to do research on
Each one may have his reasons, but they are one in their passion
for exploring Africa and the nuances of African society.
Both India and Africa are home to an overwhelming young population
who are keen to learn about each other.
Officials at the three main universities in India which provide
extensive study programmes on African studies say there is a
constant increase in the number of applications every year.
Mumbai University (MU), Delhi University (DU) and Jawaharlal Nehru
University (JNU) are the three universities in India that provide
extensive study programmes on African studies. All the three
universities offer M.Phil and Ph.D courses.
Aparajita Biswas, professor and director of Centre for African
Studies, MU, says that at present more than 25 students are
studying in the department for which more than 50 students had
Biswas told IANS: "Students want to explore the new, burgeoning
and dynamic Africa and for this we provide a good platform to
them. "The university keeps on arranging seminars, symposiums and
workshops for students to further upgrade their knowledge."
According to latest forecasts by the International Monetary Fund (IMF),
African economy is expected to grow at over six per cent over the
next few years.
For Sushmita, a student of JNU, there are similarities between
Indian and African culture. The two-million strong Indian diaspora
in Africa and a small diaspora of Siddis who came to India's
Gujarat coast several centuries ago form an enduring cultural
"I plan to become a lecturer on African studies later in my life
with a through experience on Indian and African diaspora," says
S.N. Malakar, chairperson for African Studies in JNU, says African
studies are very popular among students these days. "Forty-three
students are studying under our department as of now."
JNU provides an elaborate study on Africa which includes
Francophone Sub-Saharan Studies. Under this 22 countries from
Africa are chosen which either had French-speaking background or
faced French colonization.
Like MU and JNU, Delhi University also assists students to do
research on Africa. But the cherry on the cream for students here
is the Swahili language programme. There are certificate and
language courses under this programme.
Suresh Kumar, head of the department of African Studies at DU,
says, "This is the only programme of its kind in India and it is
attracting more and more students every year".
Apart from these main centres, other universities also offer
African studies though there are no extensive departments as such
but it can be taken as a research subject under M.Phil and PhD
courses. JMI in Delhi and Jadavpur University in Kolkata are among
The department of Third World Studies at JMI offers African
studies with a combination of other social sciences. The students
can research on Africa alone after completing their first year of
"Many students are studying on Africa from our department and with
each passing year the number increases," Jamal Moosa, who teaches
on Africa in the department, told IANS.
Pradipta Tapadar and Nazia Jafri can be contacted at email@example.com