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Swaraj unveils Suriname memorial honouring Indian indentured workers

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Sushma Swaraj
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Kolkata: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday unveiled the Suriname Memorial here, honouring the Indian indentured workers who migrated to the South American country as labourers for sugar plantations.

The memorial is a bust of ‘Baba and Mai’ – a depiction of male and female indentured workers known as father and mother. It is a replica of the Baba and Mai monument in Parimaribo, Suriname’s capital, which symbolises the first Indian man and woman to set foot in the Dutch speaking nation.

Baba_and_Mai_Statue

The memorial has been set up at the Suriname Jetty from where the indentured workers from India used to board the ship for the small country located on the northeast Atlantic coast of South America from 1873 to 1910.

From this jetty several people, in the prime of their youth, left Indian shores as indentured labourers to work in Suriname, to face an uncertain future. The migration spanned between 1870 and early 20th century,” reads the plaque below the memorial set up jointly by the governments of the two countries.

With their hard work and undying spirit they substantially contributed towards the development of Suriname.

“We respect and felicitate their spirit of courage, determination and endurance,” reads the plaque.

The first ship named Lalla Rookh, carrying Indian indentured labourers, had arrived in Suriname in June 1873.

(IANS)

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India’s Diwali Promise, Medical Visas to All Deserving

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Shushma Swaraj
External Affairs Minister Shushma Swaraj. IANS

New Delhi, October 19: Marking the auspicious occasion of Diwali, India on Thursday made a Diwali promise medical visas all those people abroad, including in Pakistan, seeking treatment.

“On the auspicious occasion of Deepawali, India will grant a medical visa in all deserving cases pending today,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted.

Keeping to a promise made on Independence Day, India on Wednesday issued six more medical visas to Pakistani nationals, including three children.

“We will issue visa to facilitate treatment of your eight-year-old child in India,” Sushma Swaraj tweeted on Wednesday night in response to a request from Nazir Ahmed who said that his son Mohammad Ahmed was awaiting a medical visa from India for one year.

In a separate tweet, she also promised a visa to Muhammad Asif Malik’s son, who is currently in an intensive care unit (ICU) in children’s hospital in Lahore, and to Kasif Chacha’s child who is running out of medicine.

Visas were also issued to Irfan Ahmed Shaikh, Nasir Mahmood and the mother of Rafique Menon for liver surgeries.

This month, Sushma Swaraj has announced the issuance of 19 medical visas to Pakistanis for treatment in India as Diwali promise.

Last month, India issued a medical visa to a Pakistani child seeking open heart surgery.

On Independence Day, the External Affairs Ministry made a Diwali promise 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, on July 18, a patient from Pakistan-administered Kashmir, seeking treatment in New Delhi for a liver tumor, got a visa.

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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