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Ghana at Fifty India at Sixty

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My Ghana@50 lecture in New Delhi, India.

My Ghana@50 lecture in New Delhi, India.

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  • 1. Ghana at Fifty, India at Sixty: The Challenge of the Democratic Developmental State Amos Anyimadu, Ph.D. Africa Next Knowledge Brokerage and Interaction www.AfricaNext.net amos@cict.dtu.dk Prepared for the Ghana High Commission to India/ Nehru Memorial Musuem and Library Seminar on Ghana’s Golden Jubilee, 7 March 2007, New DelhiGreetings from a celebratory and colour-charged Ghana. In Ghana we are marking ourGolden Jubilee, Ghana@50 as we futuristically call it, with zeal and vim which manyGhana observers, even those who experienced our specific joy at the last World Cupfinals, find somewhat bewildering. Today, Ghana is again the name “we wish toproclaim” in high style, just as we did on the 6th of March 1957 at the Old Polo Groundsin Accra and everywhere else in the then Gold Coast.Our current festival of freedom begun slowly and has been factored through the evolvingand beneficial Ghanaian sense of hard politicking, but the party has now taken off inearnest. Having just come from Accra, I can tell you that the fever of celebration has hitGhana in a quite unprecedented manner. A true people’s festival has begun. The loneblack star in its red, gold and green tricolour, which is our proud flag, shines from almostevery height and major lateral in Ghana. The Australians, I believe, lay claim to thelargest flagpole in the world, a reminder of their bicentenary. Today we Ghanaians maylay claim to the largest flag in the world in recognition of our Golden Jubilee. I have seenthe lone black star in its African tricolour entirely cover many-storeyed buildings inAccra. President Kufuor is today hosting the highest concentration of Heads of State inthe world.Mr. Chairman, coming to New Delhi for our Golden Jubilee was a pleasant duty for me.As a pioneering force in the anti-colonial movement, I have no doubt that our Indianfamily fully understand and share in our joy at fifty, a position you, yourself, were at adecade ago. Experiencing the colour of the Holi festival in Delhi last Sunday pointed upthe fact that the colour and poignancy of our celebration of Ghana@50 would not at allbe strange to you. Indeed I understand that certain aspects of the concept and practice ofDurbar, as it has become very firmly engrained in Ghanaian governance and public
  • 2. spectacle, came to us in Ghana from India through the British colonialists. I am furtherintrigued that the Teen Murti Bhavan, where we are now gathered at the NehruMemorial Musuem and Library, used to be called Flagstaff House. As in some otherformer British colonies, Flagstaff House, Accra, is also a seat of power. Indeed the greatKwame Nkrumah of Africa and beyond took it over as his seat. I am happy to report thattoday Flagstaff House, Accra, is being restored as an All Ghana Presidential Complexwith the generous support of the Government and People of India. Flagstaff House,Accra, I must add, abuts an avenue named in Accra for the great world statesmanJawaharlal Nehru.Mr Chairman, I have come to Delhi to begin drawing a picture of our intertwinedjourneys from colonialism to wealth, dignity and justice in the best of worlds. Ghana atfifty and India at sixty encapsulate two deeply related tales of journeys out of the socalled Third World. I would want to approach India’s importance as a leading case inWorld Development and a globally-significant large democracy. Mr Chairman, myhandle on your important country is rather fragile. Nonetheless, in the followingparagraphs I propose to point up issues concerning our obviously related paths fromcolonialism. My handle on our Ghana, a very much lived reality for me, is obviouslymuch more firm. From this more trained vantage point, I would want to begin putting thequestion as to how we can build states which are democratic as well as developmental inour countries in the present world condition.Mr Chairman, Indian independence directly shaped Ghanaian independence. It is fair tosay that we shall not be celebrating Ghana at fifty today had India at sixty not been sown.Kwame Nkrumah was clear about the importance of the Indian experience to the strugglefor freedom in Ghana. Thus in his autobiography he wrote:“After months of studying Gandhi’s policies and watching the effect it had, I began tosee that, when backed by a strong political organisation, it could be the solution to thecolonial problem”.The Nkrumah-Gandhi axis was driven much more deeply. I would suggest that it is notsimply incidental that Gandhi’s favourite hymn was “Lead Kindly Light” and that thisalso became Nkrumah’s, and his party’s, favourite. It is not simply coincidental thatKwame Nkrumah’s most famous aphorism “Seek ye first the Political Kingdom and allthings shall be added unto you”, is attributable not simply directly to the Christianscripture but, perhaps more directly, to Gandhi’s fundamental position that:“You cannot serve God and Mammon is an economic truth of the highest value. We haveto make our choice. Western nations are groaning under the monster-god of materialism.Their moral growth has become stunted … Under the British aegis we have learnt much,but it is my firm belief that, if we are not careful, we shall introduce all the vices that shehas been prey to owing to the disease of materialism … Let us first seek the Kingdom ofGod and his righteousness, and the irrevocable promise is that everything will be addedunto us. These are real economics”
  • 3. Mr. Chairman, what may be considered the three cardinal emphases of Gandhian thought,to rely on the reckoning of Hugh Tinker: “the cooperative society where intellectuals andmanual workers find a common purpose”; “the attempt to give self-respect to thosewhom tradition had handicapped”; and “the philosophy and technique of non-violence”all resonate in the Ghanaian freedom struggle and our post-Independence march fordemocracy and development.The personal electricity between Nkrumah and Nehru, which clearly shoots out of thedramatic photograph of the two icons unveiled in our High Commission yesterday,carried these high principles into practical politics and was perhaps most successful in theInternational Relations precept of Positive Neutrality and organizationally in the NonAligned Movement. Erica Powell, Kwame Nkrumah’s long-serving private secretary, inher important book on Kwame Nkrumah captures in different ways the deep personalfriendship and political engagement between Nkrumah and Nehru. Thus, we are told, asNkrumah set off for a much colder part of India during his 1961 visit, his ever thoughtfulfriend and ally, Nehru, realizing that Nkrumah did not seem to be carry adequateprotection against the elements, fetched a comforting coat and gloves which hepersonally delivered to Nkrumah on a trot.The days of Nkrumah and Nehru were charged with visionary politics. Today, ourchallenges appear much more mundane. It is clear that the distance between Ghana andIndian has widened. Recently the BBC World Service focused on India under the rubric“India Rising”. Today the same focus is on Ghana under the decidedly low-tempo,somewhat backward-looking rubric “Winds of Change”. India confidently embracesGlobalisation. Ghana struggles to humanize Globalization for basic survival. TheEconomist newspaper recently said the Indian economy was overheating with near tenper cent growth. This, we are told, presents its own problems which the politics of yourrecent budget, I understand, seeks to address. In Ghana we seek all growth without theluxury of fine qualification. A thoughtful and balanced piece written by Michelle Faul ofthe Associated Press from Accra, and carried by many newspapers around the worldyesterday, notes that Ghana’s “Golden Jubilee on Tuesday is prompting some soberreflection on why Africa has failed to translate its dreams, and its bounty of mineral andagricultural resources, into wealth”. The Economist newspaper’s online presence opinesthat Ghana “is an example of much that has gone wrong, and then right, in Africa”. Onthe homepage of the World Bank web pages yesterday, Mats Karlsson, the agreeableSwedish Country Director of the Bank in Ghana, tries hard to be totally optimistic andreports that:The last five years brought higher economic growth (6.2 percent in 2006), after a steadytwo decades of moderate 4 percent growth. Inflation is lower (10 percent, down from 40),and so are interest rates (15 percent, down from 30), and poverty (33.4 percent in 2005,down from 39.5 percent in 2000, and 51.7 percent in 1990.Mr. Chairman, the statistics may tell different stories but it may be clear that from theperspective of an Asian tiger it would seem that the African lion is meek indeed.
  • 4. The idea of the Developmental State has often implied authoritarian governance. Indiapresents an interesting challenge of a Democratic Developmental State. This is theagenda that the government of President Kufuor has set for us in Ghana as well under thegrand promise “Development in Freedom”. What happens to the state in Developmenthas arrested conceptual attention for centuries. The current history of India belies manyof the general conclusions that have been assumed. Agrarian social structures were notsupposed to yield democracy. Responsive politics in poor countries was not supposed toyield good economics. Here in India these received assumptions have been turned upsidedown. We have a large agrarian formation in the “BRIC” of the foundation of the enginehouse of the world economy, to use Goldman Sachs’ now famous code. This invitesattention from Ghana-type societies in today’s world condition.It is refreshing that the evolution of Ghana—India relations clearly points to a practicalapproach to the challenge of the Democratic Development State. India’s support toGhanaian development today is distinguished not only by its surprising large size but alsoits strategic quality of having a clear potential to fundamentally uplift our march todemocracy and development. For Africa as a whole, India has extended more than onebillion dollars worth of technical assistance. I am particularly taken by the promisingPan-African e-Network Project recently begun by India for Africa. The Project envisagesconnecting the 53 African Union countries by satellite and fibre optic network, and oncecompleted, it would provide tele-education and tele-medicine facilities from India toregional centres in Africa and also individually to each of the member countries. It wouldalso provide effective communication and connectivity to all the AU countries includingvoice and video conferencing facilities among the Heads of States. This is an excellentexample of South-South cooperation for meeting the challenges of the new KnowledgeEconomy in our shrinking world.Ghana is a member of India’s Team-9 initiative. It is under this arrangement that Ghanahas received concessional credit for the Presidential Complex mentioned earlier. Nearthe State House in Accra one finds a gleaming temple to the future. The India-GhanaKofi Annan Centre of Excellence in Information and Communication Technology wasestablished with $2 million dollars assistance from India. This facility has fast become acrucial component of our digital future in Ghana. India’s fascinating emergence as atelematics giant is powerful instruction to us in Ghana. I am even happier that ourrelationship in this area is beginning to more fully cover the content side of this equation. The most important point that I took away from the BBC’s India Rising season was thewell-based transformation of the Indian public sphere through application of new as wellas old communication technologies. I note the importance of your local language,including its press, in public life. The force of Indian television and film is trulyremarkable. I understand India is one of the few places on our planet where the press istruly deepening. All these factors have significant pecuniary implications. They also haveimplication for mind and thought. They must be good for the quality of democracy inIndia. It is not difficult to see that these factors form a crucial component of the seminal
  • 5. observation of Amartya Sen, the great Indian intellectual, that famine does not occur indemocracies. It is for all these reasons that, even as I conclude my exploration, I amhappy to report that we had the first official Indian Film Festival in Accra this year. I lookforward to similar, mind-led conclaves linking our two countries in the near future. Thatway, Mr. Chairman, we shall much more certainly attack the challenge of the democraticdevelopment state with great Indo-Ghanaian confidence.I thank you.