Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Kamala Persad-Bissessar (L) gestures as she meets Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during a welcome ceremonial at The Presidential Palace in New Delhi on January 6, 2012. Kamala Persad is in India for a 10-day state visit. Photo from First PostIndia’s Diplomatic Outreach To Far Abroad – Analysis
Written by: SAAG
Eurasia Review | January 06, 2012
By Rajeev Sharma
Normally, Trinidad and Tobago does not have much media coverage in India. Not even if it is the largest among all small nation states that constitute the Caribbean. And yet, Trinidad and Tobago is justifiably in the limelight because its Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, the first woman of Indian origin to reach this position, is currently on a state visit to India (January 5-14, 2012). The importance of this visit from the Caribbean tiny dot nation is two-fold. One, this is the first state visit of the year. Two, this also happens to be the first state visit by a woman Head of Government of Indian origin. Kamla is accompanied by seven ministers and two prominent cricket stars of the region: Brian Lara and Daren Ganga.
India rolled out the red carpet to Kamla and engaged with her at the topmost political level. Apart from the fact that she held delegation-level talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday, she also had discussions with President Pratibha Patil, Vice-President Hamid Ansari and External Affairs Minister SM Krishna. Kamla’s main official engagements in New Delhi concluded on Friday itself after which she is to visit Jaipur for the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas as the Chief Guest where she is to be conferred the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman award.
The foreign dignitary will be in Bihar on January 11where she will visit Bhelupur, her ancestral village in Buxar, apart from her visits to Indian metropolises like Kolkata and Mumbai. During the delegation-level talks between the two Prime Ministers on Friday, the two sides vowed to intensify their bilateral cooperation. Five MoUs were signed: one pertaining to culture, one in technical education, two pertaining to Department of Ayush (one is for technical cooperation in traditional medicine and the second one is for establishing an Ayurvedi Chair in the University of West Indies), and the fifth is bilateral air services agreement.
The importance of Trinidad and Tobago cannot be over-emphasised as people of Indian origin constitute about 42 per cent of the population there, and are part and parcel of the economic, political and social fabric of the country. For at least half a decade, India has been pursuing vigorously its far-abroad diplomacy and strengthening ties with the Latin American and Caribbean region.This is reflected by the fact that in 2010 India’s trade with the Latin American and Caribbean region was US$ 23 billion and cumulative investments in that region were estimated to be about US$ 15 billion.
India’s pro-active engagement with this region, known in the diplomatic circles as LAC countries, is to be seen in the larger context of New Delhi’s aspirations for permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council where every single vote counts. Trinidad and Tobago supported India for the non-permanent membership of the UNSC and voted for India. As regards the permanent membership, many of the smaller countries constitute and work together as groups, and they work within what is called the CARICOM. It consists of various other countries in the region. CARICOM has a generic view on this rather than Trinidad and Tobago individually. They work within the parameters of that view in the United Nations. It is this big picture that is the template for India’s diplomatic outreach to every nook and corner of the globe.
People-to-people interaction and exchanges constitute an important part of India’s bilateral relations with Trinidad and Tobago. People of Indian origin constitute about 42 percent of the population there, and are part and parcel of the economic, political and social fabric of the country. These historic and cultural linkages have become stronger with time. In 1966, India established the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Cultural Cooperation in Port of Spain. The Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR), an important tool for cultural diplomacy, has also set up long-term Chairs on contemporary Indian studies and on Hindi.Indian cultural troupes regularly visit Trinidad and Tobago. The Government of Trinidad and Tobago, since January 2011, has relaxed visa requirements for Indian nationals for tourism and business purposes, if the period of stay does not exceed 90 days.
The outlook for bilateral trade between India and Trinidad and Tobago has considerable potential. Indian exports have grown exponentially from US$ 8.8 million in 2001 to approximately US$ 420 million in 2008-09. However, during the last two years bilateral trade has declined on account of shortfall of Liquefied Natural Gas(LNG) exports of Trinidad and Tobago to India and also due to global economic recession. The bilateral trade between India and Trinidad and Tobago was pegged at a modest figure of $ 140 million. Indian exports include drugs and pharmaceuticals, iron and steel, petroleum products, IT services, auto components and gems and jewelry.
Trinidad and Tobago is rich in oil and gas resources and has the largest and most vibrant economy in the Caribbean. Indian companies have evinced interest in investing in gas and petrochemicals sector. India also offers 30 ITEC training slots annually to Trinidad and Tobago nationals for training in Indian institutions. Indian companies like Essar, Indraprastha Gas Limited (IPL) and Reliance are already negotiating for investing in Trinidad and Tobago’s oil, fertilizers and chemicals sectors. Reliance is interested to invest about a billion dollar in a bitumen plant.
In today’s world where distances have shrunk drastically, India needs to get more pro-active in pursuing its far abroad diplomacy. The on going visit of the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago is a part of this process. India has woken up quite late to the importance of its far abroad and China has already stolen a march over India in this regard. China’s presence in Latin America and the Caribbean is already phenomenal. India must take the cue from China in pursuing a vigorous diplomacy all over the world and economic diplomacy is, and should be, an important tool to make India a truly global power.
About the author: SAAG
SAAG is the South Asia Analysis Group, a non-profit, non-commercial think tank. The objective of SAAG is to advance strategic analysis and contribute to the expansion of knowledge of Indian and International security and promote public understanding.
Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Kamala Persad-Bissessar (2L) and her husband Gregory Bissessar (L) pose alongside Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (2R) and his wife Gulcharan Kaur (R) during a welcome ceremonial at The Presidential Palace in New Delhi on January 6, 2012. Kamala Persad is in India for a 10-day state visit. Photo from FirstPost
Joint Statement by India and Trinidad and Tobago.
NetIndian News Network | January 7, 2012
The following is the Joint Statement issued by India and Trinidad and Tobago on the State Visit of Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to India:
The Honorable Ms. Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago paid a State Visit to India from January 5-14, 2012 at the invitation of the Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh. Prime Minister Ms. Kamla Persad-Bissessar was accompanied by her spouse Dr. Gregory Bissessar and a high-level Ministerial and Business delegation.
2. Prime Minister Ms. Kamla Persad-Bissessar was accorded a ceremonial reception in New Delhi on January 6, 2012. She paid homage to the Father of the Indian Nation Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat. She called on the President of India Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil and the Vice-President of India Shri Mohammad Hamid Ansari. The Prime Ministers of India and Trinidad and Tobago held talks and the Indian Prime Minister hosted a Banquet in honor of the visiting dignitary. Minister of External Affairs of India Shri S.M. Krishna called on the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago. Prime Minister Ms. Kamla Persad-Bissessar and her delegation will also visit Jaipur, Agra, Jodhpur, Kolkata, Buxar and Mumbai.
3. The Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago will be the Chief Guest at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Jaipur from January 7-9, 2012. The Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago is the first woman of Indian origin to become a Head of Government in the wider Diaspora which is a source of inspiration to the Diaspora. Prime Minister Ms. Kamla Persad-Bissessar will be conferred the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award in recognition of her contribution to the cause of the Diaspora in the development of relations between India and Trinidad and Tobago.
4. Prime Minister Ms. Kamla Persad-Bissessar will visit the Kolkata Memorial Monument from where her ancestors had set sail for Trinidad and Tobago in the middle of the 19th Century. She will also visit her ancestral village of Bhelupur in Buxar district of the State of Bihar.
5. Discussions between the Prime Minister of India and the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago were held in a warm and friendly atmosphere with full mutual understanding, characteristic of the close relations between the two countries. The official talks covered bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest.
6. The two sides expressed satisfaction that the bilateral interaction and partnership between India and Trinidad and Tobago encompassing political, economic, trade, investment, energy, tourism, agriculture, science & technology, medical, education and culture was progressing in a positive direction. At the same time, the Leaders of the two sides noted that there was considerable potential towards further development and consolidation of the historical relations between the two countries and agreed to work together for further enhancement of the multi-faceted relations to a higher level. Leaders recalled that the bilateral relations between India and Trinidad and Tobago were anchored on shared democratic values, respect for human rights, mutual understanding and cooperation and a similarity of views on major international issues.
7. During the visit, the following Agreements were concluded: a Bilateral Air Services Agreement; an MoU on Cooperation in Traditional Indian Medicine; an MoU on setting up of a Chair on Ayurveda in the University of West Indies; Programme of Cultural Exchanges and; Technical Cooperation Agreement in the field of Education.
8. Prime Ministers of India and Trinidad and Tobago highly appreciated the results of the first meeting of the Joint Ministerial Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation between the two countries which was held at the Foreign Ministers level in November 2011 in New Delhi. They welcomed the results of the Ministerial Joint Commission which is an important institutional framework for providing a direction to the development of bilateral cooperation.
Trade, Economic and Investment
9. The two sides expressed satisfaction at the growing engagement between India and Trinidad and Tobago in trade and investments. They noted that bilateral trade has a vast potential which needs to be tapped with renewed efforts by encouraging participation in each other’s trade fairs, business seminars and conclaves and exchange of business delegations. They agreed to diversify trade and investments to prospective areas such as conventional and renewable energy, SMEs, ICT, Pharmaceuticals & Medical equipments and consumables, Health, Wellness Tourism, Ayurveda, Entertainment, Shipping among others.
10. The Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago welcomed the announcement by the Indian side to increase the number of ITEC scholarships from the current number of 30 to 50 commencing the year 2012.
11. The two sides noted that the importance of energy security to cater to their development needs. They reiterated their interest to collaborate in the energy sector for a mutually beneficial partnership. In this context, they noted Trinidad and Tobago’s strength in the energy sector and the possibilities for closer technical and commercial cooperation between the two countries in this regard. Both sides welcomed the fact that Indian companies from the public and private sectors have expressed interest in investing in Trinidad and Tobago. They agreed that at the invitation of Trinidad and Tobago, an Indian delegation led by the Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas would visit Trinidad and Tobago in the near future to further concretise areas of mutually beneficial cooperation.
12. The two sides expressed support for closer bilateral interaction in the utilisation of renewable and alternative sources of energy and appropriate technologies as a basis for sustainable development and as part of the global effort in addressing the challenges of Climate Change.
13. Both sides noted the growing importance of Information and Communications Technology as a powerful catalyst in the development of their economies. The Trinidad and Tobago side expressed its keenness to transform its country into an inter-connected, technologically advanced society with modern information and communication systems for economic growth and social progress. They expressed their interest for partnership with the Indian IT sector in the development of an Information Technology Park which will drive innovation, conception and design of efficient technologies. The Indian side agreed to encourage the Indian IT sector, both public and private, to collaborate with Trinidad and Tobago in its endeavour to develop an efficient IT industry.
14. The Trinidad and Tobago side expressed its interest to develop Trinidad and Tobago as a hub of medical and healthcare tourism in their region. The Indian side agreed to assist Trinidad and Tobago in this endeavour. The Indian side also agreed to develop the Indian system of traditional medicine, especially Ayurveda in Trinidad and Tobago. The Trinidad and Tobago side welcomed the Indian proposal to set up a Chair in Ayurveda in the University of West Indies.
15. Both sides expressed their interest to intensify educational linkages, especially in the technical and higher education areas through use of IT enabled services such as e-Education. In this regard they underscored that the bilateral Technical Cooperation Agreement in the field of education would facilitate closer academic ties.
16. Both sides recognised that the vast tourism potential in each other’s countries needs to be fully realised through cooperation in training in travel and hospitality sectors and though greater tourist exchanges between the two countries. They noted that the Bilateral Air Services Agreement signed during the visit would facilitate better air connectivity between the two countries and help in the people-to-people exchanges and trade. The Indian side appreciated the decision of the Government of Trinidad & Tobago for according visa waiver facility to Indian citizens for a period of 90 days. Both sides recognised that this will further enhance business and tourist movement between the two countries.
17. The Trinidad and Tobago side underlined the growing importance of its creative industry, notably in the areas of Fashion, Film and Animation. They invited India’s participation in the development of these areas through transfer of technology, investment and training. It was agreed to explore mutually beneficial opportunities in these sectors through institutional linkages and involvement of Bollywood production units.
Arts and Culture
18. Both sides recognised that the historical and cultural linkages between the two countries are being further strengthened through the Mahatma Gandhi Centre for Cultural Cooperation in Port of Spain set up in 1996. The Trinidad and Tobago side expressed its appreciation for the active role of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations in the promotion of Indian culture and arts through various activities as well as through setting up of Chairs on Contemporary Indian Studies and Hindi. Both sides expressed satisfaction at the conclusion of the Cultural Exchange Programme (CEP) for the period 2012-14 noting that it will give fresh impetus to the existing cultural ties.
International Developments and Multilateralism
19. The two sides exchanged views on a broad range of regional and international issues of mutual interest. They discussed developments in South Asia and the Caribbean region. They reaffirmed their commitment to fight hunger and poverty, promote democratic values and foster economic development and emphasised the importance of implementing the Millennium Development Goals.
20. The two sides emphasised the central role of the UN in maintaining global peace and security; promoting the economic and social advancement of all people; and for meeting global threats and challenges. Both sides expressed the need to implement the process of UN reforms to make it more representative, legitimate and effective. They agreed that any expansion and restructuring of the Security Council must reflect contemporary realities, increased transparency and democracy and include developing countries in both categories of membership. The Trinidad and Tobago side reiterated its support for India’s permanent membership in an expanded UNSC.
21. Both sides strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and agreed to cooperate in the international communities’ joint endeavour in eliminating the menace of international terrorism. They also noted their cooperation in the UN in this regard and urged the international community to adopt a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism at the earliest.
22. The two sides recognised that Climate Change is a global challenge with strong economic, environmental and social dimensions. It impacts all countries, but is particularly severe for developing countries, given their vulnerabilities, inadequate means and limited capacities to adapt to its effects. They called on developed countries to take the lead in mitigation efforts and provide the necessary means of implementation, including financial and technological support.
23. The two sides expressed deep concern over the international economic and financial crisis and agreed that the current situation demands restructuring of the international financial and monetary system. They underlined that the voice of emerging and developing economies, in the international financial and monetary system, should be heard in order to avoid new and potentially more calamitous crises in the future and contribute to the inclusive growth.
24. The Prime Minister of Republic of Trinidad and Tobago sincerely thanked the Prime Minister of the Republic of India for the warm hospitality extended to her and the accompanying delegation. She invited the Prime Minister of India to pay a State Visit to Trinidad and Tobago. The invitation was duly accepted.
Prime Minister Hon. Kamla Persad-Bissessar attends bilateral meeting with Indian Prime Minister
Uploaded by eyeonkamla..............................................................................................................................
"Patria est communis omnium parens" - Our native land is the common parent of us all. Keep it beautiful, make it even more so.
Blessed is all of creation
Blessed be my beautiful people
Blessed be the day of our awakening
Blessed is my country
Blessed are her patient hills.
Mweh ka allay!