Accra (Ghana), April 3 (IANS) A few rogue Indians can destroy the image of their countrymen, widely well regarded in Ghana, say police officials of the west African country, citing recent incidents of Indians figuring in the news for the wrong reasons.
For Indians, who have long been seen as good ambassadors of their country in Ghana, especially when compared to their counterparts from some other nations, it is a warning bell.
"It would just take a few cases to damage the image of the country. Last year, there was the case of some Indians arrested for engaging in human trafficking. Now we have a case of stealing which is not good for people who have long been seen as law-abiding ambassadors of their country," a Ghana Police Service official told IANS.
He was commenting on a recent warrant by an Accra Circuit Court for the arrest of two Indian nationals who have become the latest in the growing number of a few whose activities have come to dent the growing interest that Ghanaians have shown in the Indian government support for the country's development.
The two, Jitendra Bhojwani Prakash Kumar and Rana Mansoor Ahmed Anjam, are to be arrested for allegedly stealing company property, including $102,000 in cash, two desktop computers, one laptop and one mobile phone, all valued at $105,700.
The two had their pictures splashed in state-owned Daily Graphic and were described as wanted by police. This comes just days after Indian High Commissioner in Accra Rajinder Bhagat said India is trying to make Ghana a hub of Indo-Africa technology institutes.
The official said they have been overwhelmed by reports of Chinese engaging in illegal mining activities in some parts of the country which has created tension among them and the people. There has also been media reports of Ghanaian traders in the Accra Business District continually calling on the government to kick out Chinese who have gradually taken over the retail business all over Accra which is by law reserved for Ghanaians.
It is against this background that Indian expatriates are seen as law-abiding. Most of those who have been in the country over a long period have lived among the people and some have engaged in activities that have assisted the growth of the country, especially in agriculture.
Thus, some Indians in Accra have come to see the recent court warrant for the two who have been accused of stealing as creating a dent on the long-standing image that Indians have built in Ghana.
"We are aware of what the Indian government is doing to assist Ghana over the years and a few bad nuts should not destroy the good relationship," said Suresh Singh, an IT consultant who arrived in Accra, the country's capital, last year.
Singh said, "before coming to Accra l had met a few Ghanaians who had come to India to study and these people have all said good things about Indians living in Ghana; that is why it is worrying that some people would just try to paint our country black."
Official Indian assistance to Ghana has been tremendous over the years and it is still continuing. Currently, Bhagat said, the Indian government is considering a proposal to establish an Indian Institute of Information Technology, a regional material testing laboratory for highways and a civil aviation academy in Ghana.
These efforts are all part of the efforts that India is pushing to help build a strong bilateral relationship with Ghana.
For instance, Bhagat said, Ghana's slot on the India Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme (ITEC) has increased to 125 this year from 110 earlier. The ITEC programme started in 1964 as a bilateral effort by the Indian government to assist developing countries. The programme's African part, designated as AITEC, covers courses in agriculture and agro-processing, entrepreneurship development, toll design, small business creation, tele-medicine and information and communication technology.
Bhagat said since its inception, the Indian government has spent more than $12 billion and continues to spend $12 million annually. Thousands of Ghanaian professionals have benefitted from several institutions across India.
(Francis Kokutse can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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