September 2021 \ Diaspora News \ COVER STORY—HISTORY COLUMN
A brief history of India-Grenada Relationship 1857-present

The strong bond between Grenada ...

By Shadel Nyack Compton

The strong bond between Grenada and India started with our shared history over 160 years ago. On May 1, 1857, the first Indians arrived in Grenada as indentured servants, having departed Calcutta on the Maidstone ship 27 January with over 300 Indian indentured workers on board.

The period of indentureship officially ended in 1890, though some Indians continued to work under existing contracts until 1893. In that year a few Indians chose to repatriate to India but most used their bounty funds that they were entitled to, to purchase lands or to start a savings account in the local banks. Although one of the original objectives of immigration of indentured labourers failed; salvaging the island as a sugar producer, some of the indentured workers played a fundamental role in converting some estates from sugar to cocoa. By 1878, cocoa cultivation had surpassed sugar in its importance to the economy. Over the years, Indians intermarried with Africans and Europeans, became Christianized and brought incredible cultural value to the new multi-cultural Grenadian.

On October 1, 1975, the establishment of diplomatic relations formally started between Grenada and India. In 2008, the Indo-Grenadian Heritage Foundation (IGHF) was formed to promote Indian culture and heritage in Grenada, to educate Grenadians on Indian History and to strengthen the relationship between Grenada and India. The IGHF has organized celebrations for Indian Arrival Day (IAD) every year in Grenada and successfully lobbied for the official proclamation of IAD as a national holiday. The IGHF has strong relations with the Office of the Indian High Commission in Trinidad, who has organized visits of Indian cultural groups and installed a bust of Mahatma Gandhi in the town of Sauteurs in the north.

Grenadians of Indian descent account for the second largest ethnic group in the island. There are descendants of African, French, English and other ethnicities in the country, making it a diverse nation culturally and historically. Over the last 40 years, there has been a new wave of migrations of Indian nationals, creating a vibrant diaspora community of professionals, entrepreneurs, doctors and faculty and students at St. George’s University.

The country has robust relations with the Indian High Commission, partnering with them in educational and cultural initiatives. Shadel Nyack Compton was appointed the first Honorary Consul of India to Grenada in 2008, to further develop the cooperation between the two countries. Together with the High Commission, we were able to send Grenadian students and professionals to the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Programme for fully-sponsored training and study tours in India and helped Grenadians of Indian descent reconnect with their roots by visiting India through the Know India Programme (KIP).

The 75th anniversary of Indian Independence celebrations in Grenada was organized by the Office of the Honorary Consul, with addresses made by the island’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Honorable Oliver Joseph and The High Commissioner of India to Trinidad and Tobago, with responsibility for Grenada, His Excellency, Arun Kumar Sahu. The celebration included an award ceremony where outstanding Indian nationals and Indo-Grenadians were recognized for their exemplary contributions in their fields of expertise. On a bigger scale, the island has also benefited from projects funded by the Government of India such as infrastructural, education, and Community projects. At the height of the pandemic, India sent medical supplies early on. When vaccinations started, Grenada was one of the Caribbean countries that benefited from AstraZeneca vaccines sent by India.

Grenada is excited to continue to strengthen the relationship between the two countries in areas like agriculture and agri-tech, information technology, health, manufacturing and in cultural exchanges. We also see a potential opportunity to explore tourism as a result of our history, shared heritage and more recent connections in the growing Indian diaspora in Grenada, and the Indian alumni from St. George’s University.

We are so grateful for the lasting friendship Grenada and India have forged. The bond between the two nations has consistently grown stronger over the years. We are confident that this thriving partnership between Grenada and India will continue for many years with the mutual cooperation, genuine respect and unwavering support that both countries have for one another.

Tags: Grenada, PIO