Ruchira Kamboj. Picture: Sibonelo Ngcobo/African/News/Agency/ANA.
A Training programme in incredible India that upskills as it fosters. A programme conducted by well-informed, experienced and articulate instructors in premier institutes, in the company of peers from other countries. A visit to the Taj Mahal in Agra! And all of this without paying a cent!

While this may sound like the stuff dreams are made of, this is far from a dream.

The Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme (ITEC) - a fully-funded bilateral programme of assistance from the Government of India through training courses in the premier training institutes of India - is a much sought-after scheme among people in partner countries. It is a visible symbol of India’s role and contribution to South-South co-operation which constitutes a fundamental pillar of its foreign policy and diplomacy.

An employed South African national between the ages of 25 and 45 may qualify for all of the above and more in his or her chosen field of interest through the ITEC programme of the government of India.

The Indian Technical and Economic Co-operation Programme, better known as ITEC, is a bilateral programme of assistance fully funded by the government of India, enabling candidates from developing countries to participate in training courses in the premier training institutes of India with the primary purpose to “train” or build capacity among India’s partner countries.

It is a visible symbol of India’s role and contribution to South-South co-operation which constitutes a fundamental pillar of our foreign policy and diplomacy.

ITEC is entirely voluntary and free of conditions and fosters national development priorities of individual countries by assisting in training and capacity building, having national ownership at its centre. And it has over the years acquired a strong brand name in the field of international development partnerships.

Importantly, participants and alumni have the opportunity to not only bring home new techniques and technologies, but also the spirit of learning from India.

Thus enriched, alumni have the opportunity to share their knowledge and experience with co-workers back home, the entire process being a multiplier for the skills and techniques that have been learnt to now apply.

In 2017/18, approximately 10500 regular civilian training slots were offered under India’s ITEC programme to 161 partner countries in 50 premium government and private institutions spread across India for 280 short-and medium-term courses for working professionals in a wide and diverse range of skills and disciplines ranging from IT and Telecommunications, Finance and Accounts, Audit, Banking, Education Planning & Administration to Renewable Energy, SMEs and Entrepreneurship Development.

And that is not all. We offer Defence ITEC as well as specific courses for African candidates under the aegis of the India Africa Forum Summit Programme. So this programme can be customised as well, convinced as we are that one size does not fit all... and certainly not in this space.

The proof of the pudding is surely in the eating. The feedback that we continuously receive from ITEC alumni is encouraging and reassuring.

A participant from the South Africa Public Commission at ITEC Day 2017 held in Pretoria had testified that the course content related brilliantly to her work. Importantly, she could speak freely with lecturers on much needed clarity.

She appreciated the sight-seeing opportunities that included a visit to the Taj Mahal, complimenting as well our public transport system as one that could accommodate all!

An officer from the Department of Transport had similarly testified to the excellence of his chosen training programme and to the outstanding quality of instructors.

A third official from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries had said that his chosen course ably complemented his professional activities in South Africa. And that he had loved his India experience.

To the question how one might apply, we would signal you towards an online portal, https://www.itecgoi.in that ensures direct engagement.

This interface with alumni is further supplemented through the annual “ITEC Day” functions organised at missions abroad. Such events serve as a meeting point for ITEC participants and alumni to share their experiences about the training programme and their stay in India and in building alumni networks and providing feedback.

In many countries, ITEC alumni have formed ITEC friendship societies and also interact through Facebook (www.facebook.com/ITECnetwork).

India has always believed that knowledge is that one wealth that grows with sharing. That is the essence of the philosophy behind ITEC that we share as together we grow. For South Africa and Africa, this sharing will be underpinned by Africa’s priorities and preferences.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address to the parliament of Uganda in July 2018 had explicitly set this out when he had stated that India’s efforts would be driven by African priorities and would be on terms that would be comfortable for Africans that would liberate African potential and not constrain Africa’s future.

This is the essence and spirit behind ITEC India. We look forward to having more of South Africa participating in this excellent training opportunity in India, not forgetting to give us their valuable feedback upon their return to home turf.

Kamboj is India’s High Commissioner to South Africa