New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has stressed on “investing in relationships” for “India’s quest to be a leading power” at the valedictory session of the international conference: “Connected Histories, Shared Present” at India International Centre.
Speaking at the event, he said, “India’s quest to be a leading power is built on investing in relationships of substance. Our efforts in the Latin American and Caribbean countries are made in this spirit.”
“Our 40 development partnership projects also reflect our investment. Our similar development experiences give a further boost to our efforts in that regard. The Covid period was a visible example of India’s solidarity and support,” he said. Jaishankar was also impressed to hear the many cross-cultural experiences between Latin America, the Caribbean and India shared at the event.
Highlighting the importance of globalization in bridging the distance between Latin American and Caribbean countries with India, Jaishankar said, “Geographic distance has been bridged in this age by globalization. Preconceptions addressed by creating compulsions, demonstrating contacts and establishing working relationships.”
Lauding Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s commitment towards laying the firm foundation with Latin America and the Caribbean countries, he said, “Government has an important role, but a firm foundation for our ties is being built by Business-to-Business and people-to-people contacts. The increased frequency can see the Modi Government’s commitment to high-level visits and the opening of new Embassies.”
Jaishankar further stressed increasing trade and investments. He said, “A strong case exists for increased trade and investments. Our annual trade with LAC is already at 50 per cent of that with our largest partners. A rising middle class in those markets will help increase them further.”
He spoke about historical convergence with these countries and said, “Politically, our historical convergence stems from shared aspirations and legacies. Our collaboration at the UN, G20 and COP is proof. Our shared views on contemporary challenges is reflected by strong regional participation in the International Solar Alliance (ISA) , Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) and Voice of Global South Summit.”
He also talked about Girmitiyas and said, “Our emotional connection with Girmitiya countries remains strong. We continue to engage them as they refresh their roots, culture and traditions.” ‘Girmitiya countries’ are Mauritius, Fiji, Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica. Girmityas or Jahajis are descendants of indentured Indian labourers brought to Fiji, Mauritius, South Africa, East Africa, the Malay Peninsula, the Caribbean and South America (Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Suriname) to work on sugarcane plantations for the prosperity of the European settlers and save the Fijians from having to work on these plantations and thus to preserve their culture.
Notably, in an important decision by the Cabinet today, the Air Services Agreement between India and Guyana was approved. “Will provide enhanced and seamless connectivity; provide commercial opportunities to the carriers and further strengthen our traditional bilateral ties,” tweeted Jaishankar.