By: Aisha Braima

By: Ahmed Ismaiel

Khartoum (Sudanow.info.sd) Following are excerpts from an interview conducted by Sudanow magazine with the ambassador of India to Sudan His Excellency Mr. Sanjay Kumar Verma:

Q. Mr. Ambassador, Would you please Tell us about the celebrations of the National Day of the Republic of India, and how Indian embassies celebrate this day as well?

Ambassador: Indian embassies abroad celebrate two national days of India- the Republic Day of India falling on the 26th of January and the Independence Day of India falling on the 15th of August. Most Indian embassies choose one of them, depending on the local conditions, to be celebrated only amongst the resident Indian community and, the other one with the dignitaries of the host government and friends of India. In case of Sudan, traditionally it has been the Republic Day of India on January 26, when we request the presence of Sudanese dignitaries and friends of India, including the diplomatic community in Khartoum. On both occasions, in the morning, the Indian national flag is raised and unfurled with singing of the national anthem and reading out of the speech of the President of India. Many Indian embassies organize cultural shows, exhibitions and other suitable activities as well on these national days.

Q. How do you assess the level of the relation between Sudan and India?

Ambassador: India and Sudan have been historical partners through the days of the Non-Aligned Movement and have played significant role in framing and carrying forward the interests of countries of the South on South-South cooperation platform. A high degree of political and cultural comfort exist between the two countries, leading to growth and development in various other sectors of bilateral interactions, including trade, investment, education, culture, agriculture, mining, science and technology, media etc. Given the circumstances and the level of development of the two countries, bilateral relations are proceeding in the right direction. However, the pitch could have been higher and the efficiency of achieving targeted goals could have been better. Both countries need to have much more interaction at the higher levels in the government and in the social sectors. Considering that both the countries have a rich tradition of democracy, the two parliaments should also be able to look into the possibility of setting up specialized Parliamentary groups for enhancing bilateral relations as well as to create public awareness about the need for a deeper, wider and stronger interface between the two countries. Similarly, a more focused strategy by both sides should be able to attract more investment from India for mutual benefits. Visits of business and investment delegations from Sudan to India will be an initiative in the right direction. On cultural and educational fronts, in a similar way, more outreach is required. In brief, though the level of development of bilateral relations is acceptable, much more needs to be done by the two sides for mutual benefits.

Q. All the Sudanese people laud the constructive role being played by the Indian community in Sudan in all fields, especially what concerns the development of the relations between the two sisterly countries, would you elaborate more proposals and ideas that can help to push forward these relations?

Ambassador: People to people relations have been quintessential to India-Sudan bilateral relations. Indian community, including both Indian nationals and people of Indian origin, has been a guiding light for policy inputs on further strengthening and deepening of our bilateral relations. The first Indian arrived in Sudan is about 150 years ago at Suwakin (Red Sea State). Members of the Indian community are very well integrated with the host society and have been able to contribute to the growth and well-being of our Sudanese friends. Though their motherland happens to be India, their adopted country is Sudan and therefore they always keep the growth and development of Sudan at the forefront of their activities here.

Q. Tell us about the agreements and the volume of trade exchange between the two countries?

Ambassador: India and Sudan have signed a large number of agreements delving into various sectors and areas of mutual interest. Such focused dimensions include capacity building, agriculture, science and technology, trade, investment, taxation, industries, media, culture, health, education etc. Philosophy behind exports from India to Sudan is to develop Sudanese industry by adding value to what is being imported from India and selling it to the regional and international markets. While importing products from Sudan, India provides unilateral tariff concessions on close to 90% of total lines of tariff totaling more than 4400 products for preferential and duty-free access to the Indian market. This makes Sudanese products more competent in the Indian market is. The trend of India-Sudan trade is captured in the table given below:

Financial Year* Bilateral Trade(Million USD)
India's exports India's imports Total trade
2005-06 294.65 32.62 327.27
2006-07 403.49 89.08 492.57
2007-08 407.51 433.14 840.65
2008-09 485.07 415.53 900.60
2009-10 461.06 475.00 936.06
2010-11 488.46 613.78 1102.24
2011-12 717.37 438.18 1155.55
2012-13 754.94 133.34 888.28
2013-14 862.17 436.19 1298.36
Source: Ministry of Commerce and Industry of India
*Financial Year runs from April 1 of one year to March 31 of the next year

It may be seen from this table that in the financial year 2013-14, while the bilateral trade volume grew by some 47% over the same period last year, with Sudanese exports to India showing a massive jump of more than 200% over the same period in financial year 2012-13. While India exports sugar & confectionery, chemicals & pharmaceuticals, machinery & equipment, transport equipment, iron & steel, manufactured goods, textiles & apparels, foodstuffs etc., it imports minerals & fuels, raw hides & skins, agricultural products, metals & ores etc. In addition to trade, India has a total investment of more than US$2.6 billion in Sudan and South Sudan (before July 2011). India has so far offered approximately US$737 million to Sudan as developmental lines of credit, which assists in the implementation of mutually agreed socio-economic beneficial projects.

Q. You have recently met businessmen and representatives of commercial companies in Sudan…do you think such meetings can contribute a lot to the promotion of trade relations between the two countries?

Ambassador: Increase in bilateral trade depends heavily on bridging the information and cultural gaps of the two sides. Opportunities to interact with the representatives of industry and businesses in Sudan provide such a platform. At the same time, it also constitutes a forum to understand the concerns of the Sudanese businesses, while dealing with India. They relate to very wide range of issues, including financial transactions, lack of efficient banking channels, Visa issuance etc. Once these issues are evaluated, considered recommendations are sent to the concerned Indian authorities for their resolution to the best of our abilities. In fact, I would like to have many more such interactions with individual companies and chambers of commerce and industry to pro-actively support our growing trade relations and explore the possibilities of deepening the investment-related economic relations.

Q. What do you think about the role being played by India in establishment of the Technological City as well as your country's contribution in the fields of electronic engineering in the Sudanese universities, particularly the Sudan University for Science and technology?

Ambassador: India remains committed to the capacity building projects in Sudan. They take forms of capacity building in human resources, in industry and in institutions. A point in the case is the establishment of e-learning center at the Africa Technology City in Khartoum, which offers courses from various premier universities of India, through virtual mode. India, being well known in the sectors of information and communication technologies, is ready to offer capacity building initiatives to universities such as the Sudan University of Science and Technology. This could involve nominating faculty members and students for advanced training and studies in India under various scholarship schemes that Government of India offers to the people of Sudan. India offers approximately 235 fully-paid short and long-term training and scholarship slots to Sudanese nationals. In addition, Sudan University of Science and Technology can also look at the possibility of getting qualified Indian professors at its campus in Khartoum. Such initiatives will be all inclusive without losing the sight of other branches of engineering.

Q. The level of coordination between the two countries in regional and international arenas amid the pressures put on Sudan by some foreign circles?

Ambassador: As mentioned earlier in this interview, Sudan and India enjoy excellent bilateral political and economic relations, giving voice to each other's concerns on issues of mutual interest. Historically, we have supported creation of a suitable environment for the growth and development of Sudan to make it a hub of peace and prosperity in the region. Considering this valuable objective, India has always been supportive of Sudan's ambition to promote peace and growth. On July 9, 2014, as a recent show of our support in this direction, as a Reviewer of Sudan's National Voluntary Report at the United Nations Economic and Social commission (UN-ECOSOC) in New York, India conveyed that Sudan needs to be given better access to various international financial institutions as well as appropriate consideration within the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative (a comprehensive approach to debt reduction launched in 1996 by the IMF and World Bank). Aware of the financial difficulties being faced by the government and the people of Sudan, in July 2013, we agreed to restructure and rescheduled the repayment of the Indian lines of credit so that we can contribute to an accelerated growth and development of Sudan. By doing so, we also sent a signal to other donor nations that Sudan’s concerns can easily be taken on board by paying attention to the needs and requirements of its people.a10

Q. The Presidential Initiative for National Dialogue between all parties and sectors of Sudanese society .. How do you see the future of this initiative and its impact on achieving peace in Sudan?

Ambassador: India has always been an advocate of non-violence and dialogue. India's independence was largely obtained through the principles of non-violence, championed by Mahatma Gandhi. Therefore, any initiative which promotes peace and stability of Sudan, having its basis on non-violence and dialogue would always be welcomed by the Government and people of India. The national dialogue process initiative of President Bashir is commendable and we hope that it will be able to achieve its objectives while keeping the interests of the people of Sudan affront. We also hope that the national dialogue process would also provide a more permanent structure for dealing with future differences of opinion and disputes amongst various political parties and civil society groups. Like India, Sudan too is a plural society, having various needs, sometimes divergent. While being conscious of such ground realities, we take policy decisions with the sole objective of betterment of the livelihood and harmony of the society. India is always ready to share its experience in maintaining unity in diversity of its peoples and culture. The Constitution of India provides for India to be a sovereign, socialist, secular and democratic republic. Therefore, any initiative which the Government of India of the day takes needs to pass this litmus test.

Q. During the recent period more Sudanese visit India for medical treatment, tourism or trade, how do you assess this and what your advice to those who prefer to go to India in this connection?

Ambassador: India’s efficient, high quality and low cost medical treatment facilities are world renowned. India received more than two million foreign patients last year. According to one estimate, this number is expected to grow to 3.2 million by the end of 2015. A significant proportion of patients are from developed countries. For critical medical attention, Sudanese nationals too travel to India and Embassy of India facilitates the issuance of appropriate visa for them and their family members, on priority. The feedback received from such patients has been encouraging. Other important sectors, for which Sudanese nationals travel to India, include business, conference, tourism and education. It is estimated that approximately 30,000 Sudanese nationals have graduated from Indian educational institutions so far. My suggestion to those who are going to India for educational purpose is to choose the institution and the course with due care so that they are able to follow their passion to contribute to the growth and development of Sudan.


Sudanow is the longest serving English speaking magazine in the Sudan. It is chartarized by its high quality professional journalism, focusing on political, social, economic, cultural and sport developments in the Sudan. Sudanow provides in depth analysis of these developments by academia, highly ...


Recent tweets

FOLLOW Us On Facebook

Contact Us

Address: Sudan News Agency (SUNA) Building, Jamhoria Street, Khartoum - Sudan

Mobile:+249 909220011 / +249 912307547

Email: info@sudanow-magazine.net, asbr30@gmail.com