“Bilateral relations will scale new heights”

H.E. Mr Mahender Singh Kanyal, Ambassador of India to Suriname, Barbados, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines responded to questions from the India Empire Magazine on a range of subjects ...

The Covid 19 crisis has sown the seeds of the economic renaissance in the form of Self Reliant India. As envisioned by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a Self Reliant India will stand on five pillars: Economy that introduces quantum jump, Infrastructure in tune with new India, a System based on 21st century technology, India’s vibrant demography and Demand which will utilise India’s requirement and supply chain to full capacity. This is in line with India’s spirit of challenging the challenge to emerge stronger.

In the prevailing Covid 19 environment, while on the one hand India has been conducting webinars sharing its experience, expertise and best practices with its development partners including Suriname as part of its commitment to extend technical cooperation and contribute to capacity building and skill development of human resources of Suriname, on the other hand, the Mission has been encouraging and facilitating the business communities to interact in a sustained manner and exchange trade and investment opportunities on offer with their Indian counterparts. I am glad that the number of trade-related enquiries being received by the Mission is on the increase now. Besides, there are projects in power, solar energy and other sectors going on under Development Cooperation Partnership and some are in the pipeline. So, I see many opportunities opening up to scale up our bilateral relations in a wide range of areas.

With President Chandrikapersad Santokhi getting elected, two persons of East Indian origin are now heading their respective Governments in the Caribbean—one in Suriname and the other in Guyana. Do you see a difference in the engagement process with India in coming times insofar as the Caribbean is concerned?

India attaches high importance to its relations with Latin America and the Caribbean region. In fact, India’s ties with the Caribbean region are historic and civilizational. We have excellent bilateral relations with individual Caribbean countries which are further reinforced by India’s growing relations with CARICOM.

However, for the last few years, India’s relations with the region both in terms of political engagement as well as trade and commercial linkages have intensified, marked by many high-level visits and interactions with major regional groupings. The presence of about 1.5 million Indian diaspora which is culturally and emotionally attached to India adds a special dimension to the relationship.

Particular care has been given to engaging smaller nations, which underlines India’s new approach towards climate change and sustainable development. The first ever meeting of India and Heads of State/Government of CariCom member States took place on the margins of UNGA at New York on September 25, 2019. Among the announcements made by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi during the meeting were a grant of US$1 million to each member State of CariCom and a Line of Credit of US$ 150 million to CariCom member States for projects relating to solar energy, renewable energy and climate change.