April 4, 2021: The Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme was instituted on September 15, 1964 by a decision of the Indian Cabinet.
While conveying their decision to initiate the ITEC programme, the Cabinet noted that “a programme of technical and economic cooperation is essential for developing our relations with the other developing countries based on partnership and cooperation for mutual benefit. It would also be a concrete manifestation of our resolve to contribute to the evolution of the world community based on the inter-dependence of all its members in the attainment of their common goal for promoting the social and economic well-being of their people.”
Since then, September 15 is celebrated as ITEC Day every year. Under the ITEC and its sister programmes, the SCAAP (Special Commonwealth Assistance for Africa programme), and the Technical Cooperation Scheme of Colombo Plan, more than 160 countries are invited to share India’s developmental experience acquired over six decades of her existence as a free nation.
Contextual background of Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation programme
Though the ITEC programme itself was initiated only in 1964, the larger vision of “One World” driving India’s development cooperation policy started right after India’s independence.
In 1949, India announced 70 scholarships for students from other developing countries to pursue studies in India.
For a newly independent nation, there was a firm conviction that some of the economic and other prescriptions that came with the aid received did not apply to the prevailing socio-economic conditions.
Simultaneously, the assistance received in the capacity building was invaluable and had a tremendous impact on India’s development. This was the inspiration behind the ITEC – the idea was to share the lessons in development that we were imbibing.
Driven by this belief, at various platforms and in debates involving the South-South Cooperation (such as UNCTAD, Economic Cooperation among Developing Countries (ECDC), the Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries (TCDC), New International Economic Order, etc.), India played a key role.
Developments over time:
– The utility and relevance of the ITEC programmes have been reflected in the increasing number of participants. In 2013-14, the Government offered over 10000 scholarship slots under the ITEC/SCAAP programme.
– There are 47 pieces of training institutions in India that run more than 280 training courses in diverse subjects ranging from IT, public administration to election management, SME, entrepreneurship, rural development, parliamentary affairs, renewable energy, to name a few.
– Training programmes on security and strategic studies, defence management, marine and aeronautical engineering, logistics and management, marine hydrography, counterinsurgency, and so on, are organised for defence personnel in prestigious institutions like National Defence College, Defence Services Staff College, covering all the three wings of the defence services – Army, Navy and Air Force.
– Consequent to the increase in the number of participants, the budgetary allocation for ITEC has also been growing; from Rs. 4.46 lakhs in 1964-65 to over Rs. 1 crore in 1971-72, and over Rs. 200 crores in 2013-14 (ITEC+SCAAP+Colombo Plan).
– In recent years, ITEC resources have also been used for cooperation programmes conceived in a regional and inter-regional context such as Economic Commission for Africa, Industrial Development Unit of Commonwealth Secretariat, UNIDO, Group of 77, and G-l5.
Components of Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation programme:
– Apart from organising training courses in India, it also covers Indian experts abroad, aid for disaster relief, gifting of equipment, study tours, and feasibility studies/consultancy services.
Apart from regular courses offered under the ITEC, special studies and training programmes are also conducted/scheduled at partner countries’ specific request.
In recent years, special courses have expanded to new areas such as election management, government performance management, mid-career training of civil servants, parliamentary studies, urban infrastructure management, fragrance and flavour studies, WTO-related topics.
ITEC has proven to be a revolutionary, multidimensional programme that has garnered a vast alumni network across the continents who have become ITEC torch-bearers in their respective countries and, in the process, developed a powerful cultural bridge between India and the country concerned.
ITEC alumni have carved a niche for themselves, with many of them becoming ministers, senior diplomats, academics, government officials, and leading entrepreneurs.
As a result of different activities under ITEC, there is now a visible and growing awareness among other countries about the competence of India as a provider of technical know-how and expertise. Over the years, these programmes have generated immense goodwill for the country.