ITEC Program for Development Cooperation
Despite being a developing country itself, India has built an enviable track record for promoting South-South cooperation and creating development partnerships in countries around Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Carribean and the Pacific. The Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Program run by the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, provides training annually to thousands of individuals in disciplines ranging from IT and Communication to Rural Development. The Ministry's Foreign Service Institute runs regular professional courses for foreign diplomats. The Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) provides scholarships for undergraduate, graduate and PhD students. The EXIM Bank of India offers grants, soft loans and lines of credit to promote development projects in a number of countries. These have helped create infrastructure in railways, power generation and transmission, irrigation etc, set up capacity building institutions such as IT parks and training centres, foster growth of small and medium enterprises and much else.
ITEC and SCAAP programs are an earnest attempt by India to share the fruits of its socio-economic development and technological achievement with other developing countries.
"Friendship is essentially a partnership," wrote the venerable Greek philosopher Aristotle in the 4th century B.C. When India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, who also served as the then External Affairs Minister, conceived the ITEC program, he probably had Aristotle's words in mind.
To Nehru, the idea was simple - almost all developing countries suffered from the common legacy of colonialism. Consequently, after their independence, "the most important task before the developing countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America was the promotion of social and economic advancement of their people, which had been retarded and in most cases reversed during the years of colonial rule".
Skilled manpower and experts, financial resources and transfer of technology were the bottlenecks to be overcome. To meet the challenges of socio-economic development, cooperative efforts of developing countries - South-South cooperation - were as important as assistance from developed countries and international organisations.
India has made substantial progress and gained useful experience in industrial and technological development after it regained its freedom in 1947. Through ITEC on Sep 15, 1964, India is trying to offer a hand of friendship to all developing countries.
Some 44 nationally important educational and training institutes have been empanelled under ITEC to offer courses in accounting, finance and audit, telecommunication and English, management, small and medium enterprises and rural development, specialised subjects, technical subjects, environment and renewable energy.
Apart from VVGNLI, other institutes offering programmes under ITEC include the Ahmedabad and Roorkee Indian Institutes of Technology, the Administrative Staff College of India, and the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing and the International Statistical Education Centre, to name a few.
Conference on South—South Cooperation
In February 2011 India hosted the representatives of the Least Developed Countries (LDC) in a run-up to the 4th UN-LDC conference which was later held in Turkey in May. More than 100 delegates and their representatives at the UN from 48 LDCs attended the conference on "Harnessing the positive contribution of South-South Cooperation for development of the Least Developed Countries".
The two-day ministerial conference pledged to address issues such as international commitment at the highest political level and removal of extreme poverty. The high point of the conference was the release of the document 'Delhi Declaration' which acknowledged the increase in South-South Cooperation and South-South trade and investment flows and its impact on the LDCs development process.
India has long been committed to the development of the LDCs. So far, India has provided over US$ 7.5 billion worth of Lines of Credit to developing countries including LDCs. It also grants duty-free tariff preferential market access to goods and services exports to LDCs. And importantly, its Africa e-connectivity project has digitally connected 30 LDCs in Africa. The Pan African e-Network Project is an ambitious one which aims to assist Africa in capacity building by way of imparting quality education to 10,000 students in Africa over a 5-year period. It will also provide telemedicine services.
At the LDC ministerial conference in February, India announced five scholarships every year under the ITECP for each LDC. Also, a US$500 million credit line for developmental projects.
Pan-African e-network Project gets the Hermes Prize for Innovation
Pan-African e-network project, which India launched in 2007, won a top international prize for innovation in Paris in May 2010, awarded for contribution in the field of sustainable development by the European Institute of Creative Strategies and Innovation, a think tank that promotes strategies for innovation and renewal in Europe and worldwide.
Parliamentary Training at the Bureau of Parliamentary Studies and Training
A training program is run by Indian Parliament's Bureau of Parliamentary Studies and Training (BPST), under the ITEC program. The program which started in 1995 has so far seen 26 batches of officials from foreign Parliaments being trained, including Fiji.