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India can build ships in Trinidad & Tobago: Envoy

By Paras Ramoutar, IANS,

Port-of-Spain : India can help to build ships in Trinidad and Tobago, which has retained a “strong economy” despite the global slowdown, as it looks to widen ties with this Caribbean nation, nearly half of whose people are of Indian origin.

Malay Mishra, the new Indian high commissioner to Trinidad and Tobago, said there was ample scope for the two countries to deepen bilateral collaboration in diverse areas like agriculture, shipbuilding, IT and pharmacology.

“Trinidad does not have any places that build ships – this is an area that India can help,” Mishra, who took office March 2, told IANS in an interview.

“This country has potential and despite the current global climate, Trinidad has a strong economy. In India, we believe in sharing and building mutual relationships and that is what I hope to do here,” Mishra added.

As part of India’s efforts to “reach out to the larger Trinidadian society”, the high commissioner said students will have access to more programmes at the Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Cultural Cooperation in Trinidad.

The institute already offers Hindi classes, vocal training, tabla (percussion instrument) and kathak (Indian classical dance) instructions. A yoga course would be added soon, he said.

“I hope the heritage of India reaches out across the length and breadth of this country. I hope it benefits others, not just those of Indian origin,” Mishra said.

The high commissioner recalled that he had visited T&T for the Indian Arrival Day celebrations in May 2007 and noticed that many people participated in the event.

The Indian origin people in T&T celebrate the Indian Arrival Day May 30 every year, commemorating the first arrivals from India May 30, 1845.

About 44 percent of the 1.3 million people in T&T are of Indian origin. According to official records, over 148,000 Indians, most of them from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, migrated to T&T between 1845 and 1917 to work on the sugar and cocoa plantations.

(Paras Ramoutar can be contacted at [email protected])