New Delhi: President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, landed at the Norman Manley International Airport, Kingston, Jamaica in the evening of May 15, 2022, where he was received by Governor General of Jamaica, H.E. The Most Hon Sir Patrick Allen, Prime Minister of Jamaica, H.E. Andrew Holness and other dignitaries. The President was accorded a guard of honour on his arrival. This is the first ever visit of an Indian President to Jamaica which is taking place in the 60th anniversary year of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Yesterday (May 16, 2022), the President commenced his engagements by visiting the National Heroes Park in Kingston to pay his tributes to Marcus Garvey. Subsequently, he visited King’s House- the official residence of the Governor General of Jamaica – to meet Governor General Sir Patrick Allen. During the discussion, the President thanked the Governor General for the warm welcome and hospitality. The two leaders discussed bilateral cooperation in the field of IT and related services, medical and pharma sector, sports and education, tourism and hospitality industry and development partnership.
The President noted that there is steady growth in bilateral trade and economic and commercial interactions between India and Jamaica despite the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. He said that there is still scope for increased trade and investment, particularly in the sectors such as IT and IT Enabled Services, medical and pharma sector, education and capacity building, tourism and hospitality industry, agriculture and infrastructure projects.
Speaking about development partnership and education between the two countries, the President said that India remains steadfast in its commitment to share its experience, knowledge and skills acquired in its development journey, with fellow developing countries such as Jamaica. Our development partnership activities are firmly rooted in the concept of South-South Cooperation and based on the principles of voluntary partnership in line with national priorities of our partners. We are glad to assist in capacity building and skill development in Jamaica through the courses in various esteemed educational institutions under the India Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Programme. India is happy to offer an increase in ITEC slots from 30 to 50.
After the meeting with the Governor General, the President travelled to Jamaica House where he was received by Prime Minister Andrew Holness. The two leaders discussed enhancing cooperation between India and Jamaica in trade and investment, service, health, railway and transport services and sports as well as cooperation in regional and multilateral fora.
The President said that there is huge potential for collaboration in the service sector and knowledge economy between the two countries. He was happy to note Jamaica’s interest in collaboration in the field of education, especially among educational institutions. He said that India welcomes Jamaica’s interest in hosting a branch of an Indian educational institution in one of its universities.
Following the meeting, the President and Prime Minister Holness witnessed the signing and exchange of an MoU between Sushma Swaraj Institute of Foreign Service (SSFSI) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica on cooperation in the field of diplomatic training. This MoU will also facilitate close academic and training exchange for Foreign Service officers of Jamaica in the SSFSI.
Subsequently, the President visited Downtown Kingston where he inaugurated Ambedkar Avenue in presence of Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, Mayor of Kingston city, His Worship Delroy Williams and members of the Indian community.
In his brief remarks on the occasion, the President said that Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar introduced progressive ideals for the social and economic empowerment of the depressed classes in the Constitution. He educated and inspired the people for the goal of removing inequality.
The President said that some people may wonder about the relevance of Dr Ambedkar to Jamaica. Let us always remember that icons like Dr Ambedkar and Marcus Garvey cannot be limited to just one nation or community. Their message of equality of all, and their appeal to end all forms of discrimination has universal resonance. Therefore, Dr Ambedkar’s message is as relevant in India as it is in Jamaica.
In his next engagement, the Leader of Opposition in the House of Representatives, Hon. Mark Golding called on the President. During the discussion, the two leaders exchanged their views on bilateral cooperation and encouraging cultural contacts and people-to-people ties.
Later in the evening, the President visited the Hope Botanical Garden in Kingston where he inaugurated the India-Jamaica Friendship Garden and planted a sapling of sandalwood in presence of First Lady of Jamaica, Lady Allen who is the Patron of the Garden, Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr. and Chairman of the National Preservation Foundation, Mr. Alfred Thomas.
In the final engagement of the day, the President attended the Indian Community and friends of India Reception hosted by Shri Masakui Rungsung, High Commissioner of India to Jamaica.
Addressing the gathering, the President said that Jamaican-Indians strengthen the deep root of our cultural linkages and enrich our multifaceted partnership. The Indian diaspora is a living bridge between our countries. It is a matter of pride for us that members of the Indian diaspora are recognised at the highest levels for their contribution to Jamaica. We are very proud of the achievements of the Indian community in Jamaica.
The President said that India is celebrating 75 years of India’s independence and the glorious history of its people, culture and achievements through ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’. He urged members of the diaspora to come forward and join in the celebration.
The President said that we are undertaking efforts to take lead in the areas of digital economy, new technologies, climate change related action and marking the contours of a knowledge society. This new India offers immense opportunities for diaspora to participate in its progress and prosperity. We seek our diaspora’s support for this new India that promises to light up millions of homes with progress and prosperity; an India that cares for one and all.
On the occasion, the President presented cricket kits to Jamaica Cricket Association which was received by President of the Association, Mr Billy Heaven.