The Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Programme was instituted on the 15th of September, 1964, as a bilateral programme of assistance of the Government of India. The ITEC Programme, born out of the vision of our first Prime Minister, Jawahar Lal Nehru, was formally launched under the premiership of Lal Bahadur Shastri.
The decision regarding setting up the ITEC programme was predicated on the belief that “it was necessary to establish relations of mutual concern and inter-dependence based not only on commonly held ideals and aspirations, but also on solid economic foundations. Technical and economic cooperation was considered to be one of the essential functions of an integrated and imaginative foreign policy.
The ITEC Programme is essentially bilateral in nature. However, in recent years, ITEC resources have also been used for cooperation programmes conceived in regional and inter-regional contexts, such as the Economic Commission for Africa, the Industrial Development Unit of Commonwealth Secretariat, UNIDO, the Group of 77 and the G-15. In more recent years, its activities have also been associated with regional and multilateral organizations, like the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (MGC), the African Union (AU), the Afro-Asian Rural Development Organization (AARDO), the Pan African Parliament, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and Indian Ocean Rim – Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) and India-Africa Forum Summit.
The ITEC Programme, fully funded by the Government of India, has evolved and grown over the years. Under ITEC and its sister programme SCAAP (Special Commonwealth African Assistance Programme), 161 countries in Asia, Africa, East Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean as well as Pacific and Small Island countries are invited to share in the Indian developmental experience acquired over six decades of India’s existence as a free nation. As a result of different activities under this programme, 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 as well as training opportunities, consultancy services and feasibility studies. These programmes have generated immense goodwill and substantive cooperation among the developing countries.
ITEC is the flagship programme of the Indian Government’s capacity building effort, not only because of its magnitude and wide geographical coverage but also for innovative forms of technical cooperation. The Development Partnership Administration (DPA) in the Ministry of External Affairs is the nodal division for handling all capacity building programmes.
The ITEC programme, along with SCAAP and TCS of Colombo Plan, is a visible symbol of India’s role and contribution to South-South cooperation. South-South Cooperation is a partnership born out of a shared sense of solidarity and is entirely voluntary and free of conditionalities. It furthers national development priorities of our partners and has national ownership at its centre. India remains a staunch proponent and practitioner of South-South Cooperation which constitutes a fundamental pillar of India’s foreign policy and diplomacy.
Since its inception in 1964, India has trained thousands of trainees in ITEC/SCAAP partner countries. To commemorate the Programme, September 15 has been designated as ITEC Day. Indian Missions in ITEC partner countries generally host a reception to celebrate the event during the course of the year as convenient. All ITEC alumni are invited along with Ministers and other high dignitaries of that country dealing with the ITEC programme. The alumni share their experiences about the training programme as well as their stay in India, which also serves as a meeting point for ITEC participants in building alumni networks and providing feedback. In many countries, ITEC alumni have formed ITEC friendship societies.