Prez to visit Suriname in June
New Delhi: After visiting African nations, President Ramnath Kovind will now undertake a visit to Caribbean countries in June this year. The President will visit Caribbean country Suriname.
External affairs ministry is now working out a plan for the visit of President to other neighbouring Caribbean countries. This will be the first-ever visit by Indian President to the country situated in the north-east Atlantic ocean of South America. The public diplomacy of the present government is to reach out to those countries where people of Indian origin have a presence in large numbers.
Justifying the visit of Indian President, diplomatic sources said that India enjoys close and friendly relations with Suriname, reinforced by cultural and people to people contact. The Indian diaspora's arrival to the country dates back to 142 years.
Over 2,30,000 people of Indian origin, hailing from eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Kolkata live in Suriname. They contribute significantly to the economy and civil service. Many of them are technocrats and together they represent the composite culture of Suriname.
Though Dutch is the official language of Suriname, most of them also speak Indian Bhojpuri language, which has almost become a common language of the country.
President Kovind himself hails from the same village from where his ancestors went to Suriname more than a hundred years ago.
Indian festivals like Deepavali and Holi are observed in the country as main festivals. But this year ambassador of Suriname to India, Asashna Kanhai is planning to organise a Durga Puja festival in Paramaribo, the capital of Suriname. She has approached the president of ICCR, Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, and national Vice President of BJP to export a Durga idol and all puja materials from Kolkata before the festival. Sahasrabudhhe will also travel with the President as a member of the official delegation to that country.
Last November, a plaque namely MAIBAAP was opened in Surinam Ghat of Kolkata by the Government of India where Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar, Ambassador Kanhai, and the Netherlands' Ambassador Alphonsus Stoilinga were present. On February 26, 1873, sailship Lalla Rookh set off from what is known as Suriname Ghat with passengers on board. Nearly all of them were from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Among them were the ancestors of Ambassador Kanhai. The men and women had been recruited as 'coolies' or indentured labourers by the Dutch who owned sugarcane plantations in Suriname.
Several high-level ministerial visits have been exchanged since the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Surinam. But this is for the first time that the first citizen of the country will be visiting Suriname.
The Vice President of Suriname, Ashwin Adhin, had come to India as a special guest to Youth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2017, in Bengaluru. During the visit, he met Prime Minister Modi and handed over an invitation from the President of Suriname to visit Suriname.
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