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‘Indian diaspora in the Caribbean most vibrant’

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Winston Dookeran

By NewsGram Staff Writer

Port-of-Spain: The Indian diaspora in the Caribbean is one of the most vibrant across the globe, says India’s Minister for External Affairs and Overseas Indian Affairs, Sushma Swaraj, in a just published book titled, “India In The Caribbean”.

The book was initiated and coordinated by Indian High Commissioner to Trinidad and Tobago Gauri Shankar Gupta and edited by Atlury Murali.

“Though numbering less than two million across the Caribbean islands, they (Indians) occupy a position of considerable power and influence. They have produced some of the best artists, writers, spiritual leaders, political thinkers, doctors, lawyers, scientists and sportsmen. Indian festivities including Diwali, Holi, Maha Shiva(Rathri) and Ram Navami are celebrated with traditional fervour and gaiety. Indian films and music are as popular as they are in India,” Sushma Swaraj said in a message in the book.

“I, therefore, take this opportunity to pay tribute to the sagacity, fortitude and courage of these valiant people far away from India.”

Former T&T Foreign Minister Winston Dookeran, in a message, said that as with other diasporas, the Indian community does have an affinity with the home country.

“That affinity was kept alive by films, letters and the ties of kinship. The earlier generations understandably were nostalgic. Globalization today, however, is triumphant. With growing convergence among nations and states, nostalgia will recede and some memories lost. While not losing their heritage, the Indian community is first and foremost part and parcel of the citizenry of Trinidad and Tobago,” Dookeran noted.

He said that the journey was long, at times arduous and difficult but always inspiring, in discovering a new Caribbean identity.

Indian High Commissioner Gupta, in the foreword, noted that relations between India and Trinidad and Tobago are deeply rooted in history and culture, though their initial history has been painful and brutal.

“During the colonial era, after abolition of slavery in 1833, the British faced extreme shortage of labour for sugar plantation in their sugar producing colonies of the Caribbean. To overcome this problem, over half a million Indians were transported to the region as indentured workers (often called as Indian coolies) with false hopes and promises. Most of these workers came from (what is now) Eastern Uttar Pradesh and Western Bihar, while a smaller number came from (what is now) Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Many of them even died on the way during the long voyage,” Gupta added.

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“India In The Caribbean” is a classic presentation, away from the routine issues such as cramped huts, and singles out some of the achievements of the Indian diaspora today which are both educational and forward-looking, thus ensuring a firm place in the overall scheme of challenges which they faced earlier on in their sojourn to Trinidad and Tobago and by extension the Caribbean.

In its 275 pages, the book, which was edited and published by India Empire Publications, India, carries articles like “Customs and Traditions of East Indians in Trinidad and Tobago”, “From Girmityas to Nation-builders: the Indo-Caribbean Experience”, “Role and Evolution of Broadcasting”, “Memory. Indian Films and the Creation of Indian Identity in Trinidad”, “Challenges to Tracing Roots in Trinidad”, and “Culture and Traditional Way of Life”, among the 24 on offer. Each one of the contributions is stimulating, refreshing and thought-provoking – enhanced by in-depth bibliographies and researches.

“India In The Caribbean” is worth reading by all, irrespective of religious, cultural, geographic or ethnic orientations as it gives an eventful insight of the Indian diaspora which has a few years short of 200 years on this side of the Atlantic.

(With inputs from IANS)

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India-Pakistan Ties: India Grants Medical Visa to another Pakistani National

The action was termed "highly regrettable" by Islamabad, which said that asking for such a letter violated diplomatic norms and such a requirement had not been prescribed for any other country.

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Sushma swaraj addressing a press conference. Wikimedia

New Delhi, November 10, 2017 : India on Friday issued a medical visa to another Pakistani national following a promise made by the Ministry of External Affairs on Independence Day.

“Amna – We have approved medical visa for your father Mr Shamim Ahmed,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted in response to a request from one Amna Shamim through the Twitter handle of Karachi’s Muhammad Talha.

Shamim also posted a reference letter dated October 9 from a doctor in Sri Ganga Ram Hospital who stated that the patient was being considered for a liver transplant.

On Independence Day, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had announced that India would provide medical visas to all bonafide Pakistani patients.

As ties between the two countries soured over various issues, the ministry had announced in May that only a letter of recommendation by then Pakistan Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz would enable a Pakistani national to get a medical visa for India.

The action was termed “highly regrettable” by Islamabad, which said that asking for such a letter violated diplomatic norms and such a requirement had not been prescribed for any other country.

However, a patient from Pakistan-administered Kashmir, seeking treatment in New Delhi for liver tumour, was given a visa on July 18.

Sushma Swaraj then said that he needed no recommendation from the Pakistani government for a medical visa because the territory “is an integral part of India”.

Since August 15, however, Pakistani nationals seeking medical treatment have not been denied visas. (IANS)

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Myanmar Must Take Back Displaced Rohingya Refugees : India

Sushma Swaraj did not use the word Rohingya to refer to the thousands who have taken shelter in Bangladesh and instead referred to them as displaced persons from Rakhine state

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A group of Rohingya refugees walk on the muddy road after traveling over the Bangladesh-Myanmar border. VOA

Dhaka, October 22, 2017 : India on Sunday said Rohingya refugees who have poured into Bangladesh must be taken back by Myanmar from where they have been displaced.

“Normalcy will only be restored with the return of the displaced persons to Rakhine state,” Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said at a media meet also attended by her Bangladeshi counterpart Abula Hassan Mahmood Ali.

This followed the fourth India-Bangladesh Joint Consultative Committee meeting.

ALSO READ US will Provide $32 Million to Rohingyas As Humanitarian Aid Package

Sushma Swaraj did not use the word Rohingya to refer to the thousands who have taken shelter in Bangladesh and instead referred to them as displaced persons from Rakhine state, bdnews24.com reported.

She said India was “deeply concerned at the spate of violence in Rakhine state of Myanmar”.

According to latest figures from the UN office in Bangladesh, over 600,000 refugees have entered the country since August 25 after the Myanmar Army cracked down on the Rohingyas after a series of attacks on security personnel in Rakhine.

Bangladesh Minister Ali said India was urged to contribute towards exerting sustained pressure on Myanmar to find a peaceful solution to the crisis, including return of Rohingyas to their homeland. (IANS)

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India condemns support systems for terrorists in South Asia, expresses concern over North Korea’s nuclear program

Sushma Swaraj’s statement assumes significance as it comes after the unprecedented BRICS Summit joint statement earlier this month in which Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa unequivocally named Pakistan and the terror groups based there

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Sushma Swaraj talks about support systems of terrorists in South Asia
External affairs minister of India, Sushma Swaraj. Wikimedia
  • India on Thursday condemned support systems for terrorists in South Asia while expressing concern over South Asia’s nuclear program
  • Sushma Swaraj’s statement is significant since it comes after the BRICS Summit where many countries unequivocally named Pakistan and the terrorist groups based there
  • Sushma Swaraj also sought cooperation for early conclusion of negotiations and adoption of the India-initiated Comprehensive Convention against International Terrorism

New York, Sep 22, 2017:  In an obvious reference to Pakistan, India on Thursday condemned support systems for terrorists in South Asia while expressing concern over North Korea’s nuclear and weapons and ballistic missile programmes.

“The horror of terrorism continues to haunt global peace and security. Terror groups draw sustenance from support systems in South Asia,” Sushma Swaraj said while speaking at the BRICS Ministerial Meeting on the margins of the UN General Assembly Session here.

“They continue to find support and shelter in countries which use terrorism as an instrument of state policy.

“We must condemn efforts, including by states, to use religion to justify, sustain and sponsor terrorism against other countries,” she added.

Sushma Swaraj’s statement assumes significance as it comes after the unprecedented BRICS Summit joint statement earlier this month in which Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa unequivocally named Pakistan and the terror groups based there.

“There is need for collective efforts to disrupt terrorist networks, their financing and movement,” she said, calling for terrorist funding, their weapons supply, training and political support to “be systematically cut off”.

Sushma Swaraj also sought cooperation for early conclusion of negotiations and adoption of the India-initiated Comprehensive Convention against International Terrorism (CCIT) in the UN Security Council.

On North Korea’s recent offensive military posturing, she said: “The action and rhetoric of North Korea has been a source of growing global concern.”

Also read: Baloch Activist Bugti hails Sushma Swaraj for her speech against Pakistan Atrocities at UN General Assembly

She also touched on climate change and referred to Indian Prime Minister Narendra’s Modi’s suggestion of an alliance between the India-initiated International Solar Alliance and the New Development Bank, a multilateral development bank established by the BRICS nations.

“I hope we can work together to give this ambitious agenda practical shape in coming months,” she said.

The International Solar Alliance, launched at the UN Conference of Parties (CoP) climate summit in Paris on November 30, 2015, by Prime Minister Modi and then French President Francois Hollande, is conceived as a coalition of solar resource-rich countries to address their special energy needs and provide a platform to collaborate on dealing with the identified gaps through a common, agreed approach.

It is open to all 121 prospective member countries falling between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. (IANS)