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Philipp Gieg receives Culture Award Bavaria 2020 for his PhD thesis on India's Africa policy


Philipp Gieg was honoured with the Culture Award Bavaria 2020 (Kulturpreis Bayern) for his doctoral thesis on India’s Africa policy. The prize has a history of more than 60 years and is awarded by Bayernwerk in cooperation with the State Ministry for Science and Art.

In addition to the prize money, Philipp Gieg received the bronze statue "Gedankenblitz" (“Flash of Inspiration”), a work by sculptor Peter Mayer. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the award ceremony was held digitally and broadcast as a 90-minute live stream. This is now the second award that the political scientist from the University of Würzburg’s Institute of Political Science and Sociology has received for his doctoral thesis: He was also awarded the Prize of the Lower Franconian Memorial Year Foundation for Science (Unterfränkische Gedenkjahrstiftung für Wissenschaft) in 2020.

The subject of Gieg's study: "India's Africa Policy – The Economisation and Modification of a Millennia-Old Relationship". India's Africa Policy? The fact that China is active on the African continent in many ways has been heard or read many times. But India?

Africa’s second largest trading partner country

"It is indeed not so well known here that India has been active in and with Africa for a long time," says Gieg. Currently, India is the continent's second largest trading partner country after China. The country imports oil, coal and other raw materials from the continent. And it exports for example medicines and high-tech products. "The aid organizations that are active in Africa source around 80 percent of their HIV medication from India," says Gieg. India is also active as an investor: "More and more Indian companies are setting up production facilities in African countries.

Strong political ties

But it should not go unnoticed that the links between India and Africa go far beyond mere trade. "Relations are also strong at the political level," explains Gieg. On the global level, India often raises its voice for African interests. In its quest for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, for example, India regularly demands that Africa must have due representation as well.

Furthermore, India has regularly provided large troop contingents for UN peacekeeping missions on the continent – and not only there. "India is consistently among the top 5 troop contributors for the UN. In my opinion, it is high time that India gets a seat on the Security Council," contends Gieg.

India is currently planning to open 18 new embassies in Africa in the coming years, giving New Delhi an embassy in every country on the continent.

The Indian Ocean as an important trading route

Cooperation also extends to security policy. The Indian Ocean is an extremely important trading route that India wants to see secured. It has therefore concluded agreements with East African mainland and island states. These allow the Indian Navy to monitor the sea routes in African territorial waters.

According to Gieg, political relations are based on a long-standing partnership: "Trade across the Indian Ocean already existed more than 2000 years ago. Colonialism brought the common experience of exploitation and subjugation by the British, and in the period since independence India and Africa have been closely linked. Many countries in East and Southern Africa have a large Indian diaspora.” Because of this close connection, India's relations with Africa will be more sustainable in the long run than China's – at least that is what Gieg predicts.

In his dissertation, the political scientist from Würzburg draws a differentiated picture of India’s Africa policy. The work is expected to be published as a book in 2021. It will be the first major monograph on India's Africa policy.

Philipp Gieg studied Law, European Law, Political Science and Sociology at the University of Würzburg. He discovered his interest in Africa's international relations during his Master of Arts studies, in the seminars of International Relations professor Gisela Müller-Brandeck-Bocquet who would later become his Ph.D. supervisor.

Institute maintains close contacts with India

It was during the writing of his master’s thesis on the relations between China and Africa that Gieg first realized that India, too, was becoming an ever more important partner of African countries. "I thought this could be a good subject for my dissertation," he says. As chance would have it, the Institute of Political Science and Sociology started its cooperation with Indian universities at precisely this time. With funding from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Indo-German contacts have been established and deepened. Guest lecturers from India have come to Würzburg, Würzburg lecturers travelled to India – Gieg was among them and was able to do research for his doctoral thesis. The cooperation continues to exist and still offers students exciting topics for their theses.

Text of German press release: Robert Emmerich

Culture Award Bavaria 2020
India Forum at IPS