This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
2017/ Bilateral relations: MoUs
India and Rwanda have concluded a bilateral air services agreement enabling direct flights between the two countries. This is among the three memorandums of understanding (MoUs) concluded during Vice-President Hamid Ansari’s visit to the African nation. In the words of Amar Sinha, Secretary, External Affairs Ministry, it was a visit from which India learnt a lot.
Rwandan Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi and Mr. Ansari witnessed the signing of the MoU by Mr. Sinha and Alexis Nzahabwanimana, Rwandan Minister of State for Transport.
“With direct flights between the two countries, we expect our exchanges to be more fruitful,” Mr. Murekezi said.
Rwandan Airways will begin direct flights between Kigali and Mumbai in April 2017.
The other two MoUs pertained to the setting up of an entrepreneurial development centre in Rwanda and exemption of visa for entry of diplomatic and official passports.
The agreements were signed in the presence of a large business delegation from India at the newly constituted India-Rwanda Business Forum organised by the FICCI and the Rwandan government.
Briefing the media at the conclusion of the visit, Mr. Sinha said while there was much to discuss what the Rwandan government wanted from India, including the desire of many pharmaceutical companies to open shop in the country and to have Bollywood films shot in Kigali, Mr. Ansari too had several questions on the many Rwandan initiatives.
“The Rwandan government wants to encourage tourism. With the air services agreement, that should happen. But they also want Bollywood films to be shot here, because they have noticed how tourism to New Zealand picked up after Bollywood started shooting films there,” Mr. Sinha said.
He said Mr. Ansari had many questions about President Paul Kagame’s governance model that had helped Rwanda become one of the cleanest, most well-run states in the region.
“It’s a visit where we too had a lot to learn ... the reconciliation of various groups, to be conscious of a colonial policy of divide and rule and to try and overcome it, and how they are overcoming ethnic majoritiarianism by concentrating on a shared linguistic and cultural heritage.”
Girinka Programme, Rwanda
A brief history
The word Girinka can be translated as ‘may you have a cow’ and describes a centuries-old cultural practice in Rwanda whereby a cow was given by one person to another, as a sign of respect and gratitude.
Girinka was initiated by President Paul Kagame in response to the alarmingly high rate of childhood malnutrition and as a way to accelerate poverty reduction and integrate livestock and crop farming. The program is based on the premise that providing a dairy cow to poor Girinka Programme transforms livelihoods, reconciles communities improving agricultural productivity through the use of manure as fertilizers which would lead to improving soil quality and reducing erosion through the planting of grasses and trees.
Since its introduction in 2006 hundreds of thousands have received cows through the Girinka program. By June 2016, a total of 248,566 cows had been distributed to poor households.
The program has contributed to an increase in agricultural production in Rwanda - especially milk production and products, reduced malnutrition and increased incomes. The program also aimed at promoting unity and reconciliation among Rwandans based on the cultural principle that if a cow is given from one person to another, it establishes trust and respect between the giver and beneficiary. While this was not an original goal of Girinka, it has evolved to become a significant aspect of the program. The program also follows a certain criteria in choosing who the beneficiaries should be. As per a Govt. of Rwanda official, they mainly look at those very poor vulnerable families that don’t own a cow but do have land that can be used to grow grass for feeding the cows. The beneficiary should be in position to construct an animal shed or willing to join others in community to construct a communal cow shed to be jointly used with the rest.
2018/ India gifted 200 cows
Cow has been a cultural and utility animal in India for ages. It was considered even as a unit of wealth during Rig Vedic days. But in recent times, cow has acquired political capital. People have been killed in the name of cow protection. But the animal has a different story to tell from a country just across Indian Ocean on a different continent. That country is Rwanda in Central Africa where Prime Minister Narendra Modi gifted 200 cows to local people to support Rwandan President Paul Kagame's Girinka programme.
Cow is equally revered in Rwanda and is considered the best gift for which the Rwandan government runs an ambitious scheme. Called Girinka programme, it was launched by President Kagame in 2006 to fight poverty and child malnutrition, and enhance food, nutritional and financial security of people. Girinka literally means "may you have a cow".