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India our flag bearer on global stage, say Caribbean leaders as Modi’s Global South initiative takes off

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar with the Foreign Ministers of the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in Guyana (Image courtesy: CARICOM)

The Caribbean community has once again spotlighted the importance of maintaining a “close and vibrant working relationship” with India which it believes is playing a big role in having their voices heard at major global platforms.

As the Foreign Ministers from the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) held their Fourth Ministerial Meeting with India in the Guyanese capital of Georgetown earlier today, they vowed to remain engaged with New Delhi and further strengthen CARICOM-India relations by exploring more potential areas of cooperation.

The meeting was co-chaired by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Kamina Johnson Smith, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica who is also the Incoming Chair of the Caricom Council on Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR).

Among the topics discussed were sectoral cooperation in the areas of trade and economy, agriculture and food security, health and pharma, energy including renewable energy, ICT and E-governance, development partnership, higher education as well as culture and people-to-people exchanges.

Both sides also deliberated on multilateral issues, including climate change/disaster resilience, counter terrorism, United Nations Security Council reforms and candidatures.

At the meeting, the Jamaican Foreign Minister listed how important partnerships with larger nations and economies, such as India, are essential to amplify the concerns of the Caricom and other Small Island Developing States (SIDS) on the global stage.

Smith emphasised the importance of maintaining a close and vibrant working relationship with India which she said is “a leader among developing countries, a strong development partner and a major proponent of South-South cooperation”.

“As India currently chairs the G20, this meeting provides an opportunity for Jamaica and CARICOM to further elevate issues of concern to the region within that forum and to make sure that our perspectives are truly appreciated,” said the Foreign Minister of Jamaica.

The Caricom ministers specifically highlighted India’s G20 Presidency theme of ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’, calling it an excellent context within which to expand collaboration in the multilateral sphere to promote mutual interests as developing states.

Jaishankar’s visit to the Caribbean and Latin America takes place immediately after his last week’s trip to the eastern coast of southern Africa where he visted Uganda and Mozambique.

It carries forward Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of utilising its current G20 presidency to give resonance to the voice of the Global South and the importance of South-South Cooperation to collectively shape the global agenda.

The picturesque Caribbean nations – which have threaded a strong cultural connection through migration, culture and sport – have not forgotten how India stood by several vulnerable countries in the region at the time of their need during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Not only with the Commonwealth of Dominica but also with our neighbours right here in the Caribbean in the selfless donation of Astra Zeneca vaccines, the leader of the great country of India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi recognised the plight of his Commonwealth brothers and acted swiftly in making the vaccines available,”
Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister of Dominica, had said in his capacity as Chairman of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) in April 2021.

World media too observed how India, in spite of getting stuck into the marsh of the virus itself, helped many developing nations with the generous gift of life-saving vaccines, including several of them in the Caribbean like Dominica, Saint Lucia, Guyana, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, etc.