Suriname President Chandrikapersad 'Chan' Santokhi with President Droupadi Murmu at the Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport in Paramaribo (Image courtesy: Indian Embassy in Suriname)
Carrying forward Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of utilising India’s current G20 presidency to give resonance to the voice of the Global South, New Delhi’s robust outreach to developing countries continues to accelerate in different continents this week.
Later today, President Droupadi Murmu will be the chief guest at the 150th-anniversary celebrations of the arrival of Indians in Suriname.
In a special gesture, Suriname President Chandrikapersad ‘Chan’ Santokhi received President Murmu at the Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport in the capital Paramaribo late Sunday evening as she was accorded a red-carpet welcome.
This is her first State Visit since assuming the office of the President of India, significantly spotlighting why India has been hailed as a leader among developing countries, a strong development partner and a major proponent of South-South cooperation by several nations from the Caribbean, Africa and the Pacific Ocean.
Surinamese President Santokhi, who was felicitated with the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman award in 2021, was also a Special Guest of Honour at the 17th Pravasi Bhartiya Divas (PBD) in Indore this January and addressed the concluding leaders’ session of the Voice of the Global South Summit hosted by India.
As reported by IndiaNarrative.com earlier, the Caribbean community has been over the past few years quite vocal on 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.
In April, the Foreign Ministers from the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) held their Fourth Ministerial Meeting with India in the Guyanese capital of Georgetown and 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.
“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 Kamina Johnson Smith, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica who is also the current Chair of the Caricom Council on Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR).
1/2Honoured to lead the 🇯🇲 delegation to the 4th @CARICOMorg-India Ministerial Meeting in Guyana. We value our vibrant relationship with India, which is a leader among developing countries, a strong partner and a major proponent of #SouthSouthCooperation. @hcikingston@mfaftja pic.twitter.com/k84InpvBGJ
— Hon. Kamina J Smith (@kaminajsmith) April 21, 2023
New Delhi believes that besides adding fresh momentum and further strengthening India-Suriname bilateral ties, President Murmu’s maiden State visit shows the goodwill that prevails there for India as well its growing influence and stature on the global stage.
“Our outreach to the Global South is a continuing process and all the visits which take place to the Global South, this is a very integral element of it,” said Saurabh Kumar, Secretary East, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
Meanwhile, adding momentum to India’s engagement with Africa and emphasising India’s commitment to the continent, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar also reached Windhoek on Sunday on what is the first visit to Namibia by an Indian foreign minister.
Jaishankar arrived from South Africa where he voiced the concerns of the developing countries during the BRICS foreign ministers’ meeting. Intensified engagement between India and African countries was also witnessed during the ‘Friends of BRICS’ meeting held on June 2 on the sidelines of the main event in Cape Town.
Co-chaired the 1st Joint Commission of cooperation between India and Namibia with DPM and FM Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah this morning.
Underlined that our contemporary cooperation should build on long-standing political goodwill and our growing development partnership.
— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) June 5, 2023
Earlier, just before visiting the Caribbean and Latin America, Jaishankar was on the eastern coast of southern Africa, visiting Uganda and Mozambique in April.
Last week, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh spent three days in Abuja in what was the first-ever visit of an Indian Defence Minister to the West African nation of Nigeria. India was among the select non-African nations that were represented at the swearing-in ceremony of Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Countries across the Caribbean, Africa and the Pacific Ocean continue to count on India as a reliable partner.
Last month, at the third Forum for India–Pacific Island Cooperation (FIPIC) Summit held at Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea, the Pacific Island leaders insisted that they are “victims of global powerplay” and called on PM Modi to amplify their concerns at the bigger forums.
“You are the voice that can offer our issues at the highest as advanced economies discuss matters relating to economy, commerce, trade and geopolitics,” said PNG Prime Minister James Marape.
“We want you to be an advocate for us. As you sit in those meetings and continue to fight for the rights of small emerging nations and emerging economies,” added Marape stressing that he is speaking for other “small brother and sister nations” of the Pacific.
India’s efforts to drive South-South cooperation and build a truly multipolar world order which is more responsive to the aspirations of developing countries will only increase in the coming weeks as it hosts the G20 Leaders’ Summit for the first time in September.