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Trinidad conference: ‘Indian diaspora must move beyond culture and heritage’

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

The Indian High Commission organized a four day international conference to celebrate the 170th anniversary of the arrival of East Indians in Trinidad and Tobago.

At the opening ceremony of the International Indian Diaspora Conference, Clement Sankat, principal of the St. Augustine  Campus, University of West Indies, said on Tuesday, “The Indian diaspora must move beyond culture, heritage and traditions into present day areas of sustainable development.”

“We must build a new impetus towards a direction for sustainable development that is mutually beneficial to India and its global diaspora,” he added.

The first voyage of East Indians started in the year 1844. Around 238 people, mainly from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, boarded the steam ship “Fatal Razack” from Calcutta Port on August 27, 1844. They reached the Port of Trinidad and Tobago on May 30, 1845. The British government brought these people here to enhance the decaying agricultural capacity in cocoa, coffee and sugarcane.

The government of Trinidad and Tobago declared May 30th as a public holiday in the year 1992.

“Through scholarship and conferences, the Caribbean could develop a Caribbean civilization, and this must enrich a global civilization,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Dookeran.

Dookeran said that the approach to search the pathway for Indian diaspora in the country started from the 1975 conference.

Indian High Commissioner, Gauri Shankar Gupta, praised the Indian diaspora for their strength and resilience in the global community. He added that the names of the people of this extraction are found at all levels of society, politics, culture, religion, academic and sports.

The four day conference ends on Friday. The delegates from several countries such as Fiji, Suriname, USA, UK, the Netherlands and, of course, India are taking part in this program.

The conference mainly focuses on Indians in the Caribbean, literary representations of the Indian diaspora, religion and spirituality in the Indian diaspora, historiography of the Indian diaspora, cross cultural exchanges, art, music and aesthetics.

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PM Narendra Modi Launches Plan to Tackle Water Shortage in India

Modi Unveils Plan to Tackle Water Shortages in India's Heartland States

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PM Modi
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks to the media inside the parliament premises on the first day of the winter session in New Delhi, India. VOA

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday launched a 60-billion-rupee ($842 million) plan to tackle water shortages in the country’s seven heartland states where agriculture is a mainstay.

India, the world’s second-most populous country, faces the worst long-term water crisis in its history as demand outstrips supply, threatening farm output and overall economic growth in Asia’s third-largest economy.

Almost every sector of the $2.6 trillion economy is dependent on water, especially agriculture, which sustains two-thirds of India’s 1.3 billion people.

“Water shortages in the country not only affect individuals and families; the crisis also has an effect on India’s development,” Modi said. “We need to prepare the new India to deal with every single aspect of the crisis.”

The plan launched by Modi would help replenish ground water and boost overall availability in Rajasthan, Karnataka, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat states, which produce staples such as rice, wheat, sugar and oilseeds.

PM Narendra Modi
The plan launched by Modi would help replenish ground water. Wikimedia Commons

India is the world’s leading producer of an array of farm goods, and nearly 60% of the irrigation for agriculture comes from ground water, mainly through electric water pumps. Subsidised electricity gives farmers an incentive to pump out more water, a key reason behind fast-depleting water tables in the vast country.

Supplying clean drinking water to millions of poor people and reviving moribund irrigation projects were a key part of Modi’s policies for India, where the monsoon accounts for nearly 70% of the annual rains needed to water farms and recharge aquifers and reservoirs.

Nearly half of India’s farmland, without any irrigation cover, depends on annual June-September rains to grow a number of crops.

Drinking water is also an issue, as about 200,000 Indians die every year due to inadequate access to safe water and 600 million face high to extreme water stress, according to the National Institute for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog, a think tank chaired by Modi.

According to UK-based charity WaterAid, about 163 million people in India — roughly 12% of the population — do not have access to clean water close to home.

Also Read- 45% Indians Feel that Enough Steps are Not Taken for Women’s Safety: Survey

Every summer water shortages tend to be more acute in large cities such as the capital New Delhi, Chennai — a car-making center dubbed “India’s Detroit”, and Bengaluru, the country’s software capital.

Modi also exhorted farmers to increasingly adopt drip and sprinkler irrigation and use water-management techniques as well as eschewing water-guzzling crops such as rice and sugar cane. (VOA)