A former Ugandan diplomat has revealed that ayurveda could play an important role in fostering relations between India and countries in Africa and added that aggressive and sustained promotion of the ancient medicinal science could help improve the continent's "holistic development".
Speaking on the sidelines of a conference on 'Decolonization, Development and Diaspora: The Afro-Indian experience' organized by the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) and the Goa government, Kampala University Badru Kateregga also said that both African countries and India needed to pay heed to several historic, religious and colonial commonalities in order to bolster confidence between the people of the two regions as well as enhance trade efforts.
"There is a need to identify our intellectual properties to be exchanged with the Asian counterparts in order to increase their individual and group intellectual capacity such that when they return home, they can contribute to the holistic development of Africa. For example, the Ayurvedic treatment which is advanced in India is at a small scale in eastern Africa. This could be exchanged," Kateregga told IANS in an interview.
The former diplomat said that the scope for Ayurveda is immense in Africa, where a World Health Organisation (WHO) estimate suggests that between 70 and 90 percent of the population still relies on traditional medicines to meet their health needs.
"The time-tested healing methods in the Ayurveda practice could be explored in Africa," he said.
Kateregga also said that there was a need to enhance "intellectual capacitisation" between India and Africa and that both the regions needed to look beyond mere monetary benefits.
"The promotion of exchange partnerships through capacity building, most especially intellectual capacitation. Exchange partnerships where such intellectualism and skills are acquired would benefit the cooperation partners," he said.
Drawing inspiration from historical, religious and post-colonial linkages between Africa, India and Asia, Kateregga said the advent of Islam had changed the Africans' way of life.
"Islam, as also Asian religions, co-existed with African traditional religions. Islam influenced Africa as it also influenced India when the Moghuls ruled India," he said, once again underlining the importance of Africa-India-Asia connect.
"Many Asian words, notably Indian (Punjabi, Gujarati, Urdu and Konkani), have been incorporated in the local languages... Even today a wealthy man in Uganda is referred to as 'A man with rupier', derived from the Indian currency Rupee," he said, adding that several cities and urban landscapes in African towns resembled Indian architectural patterns.
Kateregga however regretted that with the advent of the colonials, the Afro-Asian collaboration model was temporarily tampered with, when Asians and colonisers bonded to bar the Africans out of the privileged loop. But the dynamics between India and Africa, especially, had changed for the better since.
"There is a need for more economic partnership in sectors like manufacturing, agro-processing, mining, oil, gas, banking, agriculture, hospitality, leisure, hotels and tourism," he said, stressing on an Asian-African monetary alliance to help Afro-Asian investors.