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The Indian community makes up most of the Asian population in Eswatini as opposed to the Pakistani, Chinese, Bangladeshi and other ethnic groups. What is interesting to me is the fact that 90 per cent of the Indian population follows the Muslim faith, which is contrary to the demographics back home in India, where the Hindu religion is the dominant religion. However, the original Indian families who arrived and settled in Eswatini many years ago were predominantly Hindu. I had a chance to speak with one of the senior members of one of the families who preferred to remain anonymous, and he confirmed that there now remains very few Hindu families in Eswatini. They also control some of the biggest businesses, mainly in the wholesale and real estate industry.

As you walk along all of the Eswatini main streets, you cannot miss the presence of Asian shop owners who have dominated all our major towns and cities. EmaSwati have become accustomed to closed shops every Friday, midday, which signifies the Muslim prayer day. I realised that the Asian population has become such an integral part of our lives as emaSwati, yet we know very little about them. The ordinary Indian contribution towards our economy, particularly in terms of employment, payment of rent and taxes is enormous. Many years ago I had the opportunity to be at a meeting organised by the Eswatini Revenue Authority and I remember distinctly two positive attributes mentioned about the Indian community in Eswatini.
Firstly, they paid their taxes on time; secondly, they paid their rent on time all the time. A former Cabinet minister at that meeting said he was a witness to the punctual rent payment as he owns several shops and his former emaSwati tenants always gave him problems with rent but now, with his Indian tenants, all was smooth sailing. Their management of a constantly full stock is a lesson for emaSwati.  

On Indian Government level

According to Ambassador Gurjit Singh, a retired Indian diplomat, the Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme has had a great impact on Africa. In a recent African survey, ITEC had the best results of various development efforts. The ITEC programme has six core qualities, and Ambassador Singh listed them as follows:
(1)Training in India for regular courses in several areas within the ITEC courses;
(2) Providing consultancy services and conduct feasibility studies for proposed projects in partner countries;
(3) Setting up grant-based projects in partner countries in areas mutually agreed upon;
(4) Dispatching experts to partner countries;
(5) Studying and experiencing sharing tours by decision-makers from partner countries;
(6) Provision for disaster relief and humanitarian assistance.  

Indian partnerships directly support national development priorities. India also contributes to multilateral funds for similar achievements like the IBSA fund or the India-UN Development Partnership Fund. Where loans are involved, or institutions are built, there is now a greater emphasis on business plans to make these projects financially sustainable.

Royal Science and Technology Park

The Royal Science and Technology Park (RSTP) website states that RSTP was created through the vision of His Majesty King Mswati III. The vision is well enshrined in the Act of Parliament, the Royal Science and Technology Park Act of 2012. The vision is the first comprehensive effort to promote science, technology and innovation in the kingdom. The aim of RSTP is to provide steadfast support for basic research and innovation. In doing so it provides a coherent approach to maximising the innovation dividend. The Indian Government took the challenge to support the King fully on this initiative, which has great potential in terms of generating income from data storage and assistance in attracting direct foreign investment from international IT companies. This building is truly a marvel to behold inside and outside. The technology inside is true to First World standards.

Lessons from Indian political system

India, the world’s most populous democracy, is, according to its Constitution, a ‘sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic’ where the bulk of executive power rests with the prime minister and his council of ministers. The Indian president is a ceremonial chief of State with limited executive powers. Since its 1947, independence, most of India’s 14 prime ministers have come from the country’s Hindi-speaking northern regions. The president is the head of State and is elected by the electoral college presently and this entails;
* 5-year term
* Commander of armed forces
* Can put India in a state of emergency
*The vice-president is the chairman of the Council of States
Presidential duties
* Nominal executive
* Oversees ceremonial functions (similar to royalty in Great Britain)
* The president signs all the bills but cannot reject them
* Elected by the Electoral College and a non-political party affiliate.

The Prime Minister Honourable Shri Narendra Modi is:
* Chosen by the political party that is in power;
* Known as the ‘chief advisor’ to the president but is actually the head of the
* government and the most powerful man politically;
* Chooses the council of ministers that run the government.


The Indian democracy is the largest in the world. They realised that there was a need for a neutral person who would not be elected through the political party system but through an Electoral College system chosen from all the states in an agreed formula. There is always going to be the need for a non-political party player who would act as a mediator. The Kingdom of Eswatini has a King to take that role but must only oversee the work of an elected government by the people. We need our politicians and political scientists to travel to India and learn more about the Indian political system. septemereswatini@gmail.com.  

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