The President of India, Smt. Droupadi Murmu along with President Chandrikapersad Santokhi of Suriname, witnessed the cultural festival on the occasion of the commemoration of 150 years of the arrival of Indians in Suriname yesterday evening (June 5, 2023) in Paramaribo.Click here for Urdu version
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Addressing the gathering at the Independence Square in Paramaribo, the President said that today we are celebrating the 150th anniversary of the arrival of Indians in Suriname which is an important milestone in the history of Suriname. On this day, in the year 1873, the first group of Indians reached the shores of Suriname, on board the ship Lalla Rookh which was the beginning of a new chapter in the history of this country.
The President said that as a multicultural society and as a land of opportunities, Suriname has welcomed all the varied communities that came and settled there. During these years, diverse communities evolved into one family and one country. She appreciated people of Suriname for their dedication and commitment to unity and inclusiveness.
The President was happy to note that despite the vast geographical distances, the different time zones and cultural diversity, the Indian diaspora has always remained attached to their roots. She said that over the last 150 years, the Indian community has not only become an integral part of society in Suriname, but it also constitutes an important pillar of the deepening partnership between India and Suriname.
The President said that at a time when Suriname is celebrating the legacy of its ancestors and its links with India, India stands with Suriname in solidarity and reverence. She announced the Government of India’s decision of extending the eligibility criteria for OCI Card up from the fourth generation to the sixth generation of those original Indian immigrants who had arrived in Suriname from Indian territories. She said that the OCI card can be seen as an important link in their 150 year old relationship with India. She urged members of the Indian diaspora to continue to make efforts to maintain their connections with India.
The President said that both Suriname and India have made efforts to rebuild their economies and social systems after a long period of colonial rule. This experience has created a feeling of solidarity between the two countries. She said that India-Suriname bilateral relations are based on shared aspirations for development.
Earlier in the day, the President paid homage at the Baba and Mai monument, a symbolic representation of the first Indian man and woman, who first set foot in Suriname. Subsequently, she paid her respects at the Mama Sranan monument which represents Mama Sranan, the Mother Suriname holding her five children, the five ethnicities that inhabit Suriname with careandaffection.
At a ceremony held at the Presidential Palace, President Murmu was conferred with the highest civilian honour of Suriname ‘Grand Order of the Chain of the Yellow Star’ by the President of Suriname. In her acceptance remarks, the President thanked President Santokhi and Government of Suriname for bestowing upon her this honour. She said that this recognition holds immense significance, not only for her but also for the more than 1.4 billion people of India. Shededicated the honour to the successive generations of the Indian-Surinamese community, who have played a stellar role in enriching the fraternal ties between the two countries.
The President also attended a luncheon banquet hosted in her honour by the President of Suriname. In her banquet speech, President Murmu underlined India's approach of an inclusive world order that is sensitive to legitimate interests and concerns of every country and region. She said that it is in this spirit of solidarity that India extended a helping hand to more than 100 countries during the Covid-19 Pandemic.
The President said that India holds the Presidency of the G-20, through which it is building stronger bridges with both developing countries and advanced economies. In order to provide a greater voice to the issues of interest to developing countries and Global South, India also organised the Voice of South Summit in January this year, with the participation of 125 countries from Global South. She appreciated Suriname for being part of this initiative.