India enjoys close, warm and friendly relations with Suriname, reinforced by cultural and people to people contact bridged by Indian Diaspora’s arrival dating back to 142 years. Over 230,000 Persons of Indian origin hailing from eastern Utter Pradesh and Bihar, and some 50 Sindhi families living in Suriname contribute significantly to economy, civil service, technocrats and composite cultural milieu of Suriname. In July this year, Mr. Chandrika Parasad Santokhi (a Person of Indian origin) was elected as the President of Suriname. On his oath taking ceremony, Mr. Santokhi recited Vedic hymns; he also spoke in Sanskrit. Prime Minister Modi had congratulated Mr. Santokhi. Prime Minister recalled India’s close relationship with Suriname. Mr. Modi said, more than a hundred years ago, people from India went to Suriname and made it their home. Today, more than one-fourth of the population of Suriname is of Indian origin. ‘Sarnami’ is one of the common languages there; it is a dialect of Bhojpuri. India feels very proud of these cultural bonds.
India’s the then Minister of State for External Affairs visited Paramaribo in April, 2017 in connection with 6th India-Suriname Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) and held high profile bilateral meetings with the country’s President, Vice President and Foreign Minister.
The then Vice President of Suriname Ashwin Adhin, was invited as a special guest to Youth Pravasi Bharitya Divas, 2017 in Bengaluru. During his visit in January 2017, Mr. Adhin led an official delegation and held bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Modi.
India has provided four Credit lines worth US$ 57 million to Suriname to set up water pumps, power transmission lines, 3 Chetak helicopters, Crash Fire Tenders and coastal equipment. Three Chetak helicopters produced by HAL worth US$ 13.5 million were handed over to Suriname Ministry of Defence in March, 2015. Exim Bank of India has provided a loan of US 8.4 million to the Ministry of Agriculture, Suriname for rehabilitation of pumping station of Wageningen, under Buyers Credit programme in August, 2017
Indian Cultural Centre in Suriname was opened in 1978 and is quite active in promoting Hindi language, Kathak, Yoga and classical music. India provided grants worth US$ 29500/- for promotion of Hindi in Suriname in the year 2016 as approximately 80 voluntary Hindi schools are functioning in different district of Suriname. Every year two Surinamese students learn Hindi in the Kendriya Hindi Sansthan in Agra. Surinamese students have also shown keen interest in various scholarship schemes of ICCR and currently one students is studying BAMS course in India under AYUSH scholarship.
The 7th India-Suriname Joint Commission Meeting (JCM), Co-Chaired by the Minister of State for External Affairs, Mr. V. Muraleedharan and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Business and International Cooperation of the Republic of Suriname, Ambassador Albert R. Ramdin, was held virtually this week. The discussions were held in an atmosphere of warmth against the backdrop of friendly India – Suriname relations.
Both Ministers underscored the importance of this mechanism in deepening political dialogue, reviewing bilateral ties, and exchanging views on regional and multilateral cooperation.
The two sides noted with satisfaction that India-Suriname relations, which have strong cultural and historical bonds, are marked by cordiality and a high degree of understanding and convergence of views on a range of issues. The Ministers agreed to add new momentum to the bilateral relations in the fields of Business & Investment with the aim to enhance, among others, the cooperation towards the establishment of creative industries, Health, Traditional System of Medicine, Agriculture, Mining, Energy, Defence, Culture & Education, Consular Cooperation and Development Partnership and strengthen people to people ties.
The two Ministers acknowledged the importance of undertaking developmental projects under concessional conditions, including through Lines of Credits, in the spirit of South-South cooperation. They noted that India’s development partnership with Suriname covers a wide range of sectors including the power generation and transmission network, general supply and water supply. They looked forward to the early implementation of projects in the pipeline which aim to contribute to energy security, energy efficiency and energy mix of Suriname.
The Ministers reiterated their commitment to provide mutual support in international fora, including United Nations Security Council Reforms. Both countries resolved to continue to work closely together, through the mechanism of the Joint Commission, on various issues in order to further strengthen and expand the bilateral relations.
Script: Padam Singh, Air News Analyst