Cover Story: Caribbean Diary


The journey of a thousand miles always begins with the first step. The first ever official visit by an Indian minister to the Caribbean, a visit long overdue, began sometime in late May when Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi led a delegation to the West Indies. The visit coincided with the Indian Arrival Day celebrations in several countries including Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Curacao, Suriname and Jamaica. There were valuable interactions with the political leadership in these countries. The local Indian ambassadors and high commissioners facilitated dialogues at various levels, including those with Indian community leaders.

GREAT SHAKES: Minister Ravi and President of Trinidad and Tobago President George Maxwell Richards greet each other

The team, however, did not officially spend time in Guyana that had already celebrated IAD. On the way to Paramaribo, however, it did stop over at Georgetown. Top GOPIO leaders from the USA and the Caribbean joined the ministerial delegation. On the return leg, Ravi and his team, including MOIA joint secretary Malay Mishra (back since with the Ministry of External Affairs) and Director MEA Dinesh Bhatia visited New York and met up with the Indian community. Hopefully, the visit will open up meaningful dialogues with the Caribbean Indian community, made up mostly of descendants of indentured workers who were taken to the islands from India on British ships in the 19th and early 20th century to work in the sugar plantations. Now the sugar economy has almost collapsed, and the Indians are finding newer avenues to make themselves economically relevant.

While the Caribbean Indians look to India to address issues that concern their economic and political well-being, India has a lot to gain by seeing, and ensuring a strong Indian community in these beautiful, touristy isles.

—By Sayantan Chakravarty


July 2007

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