The President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, arrived in Kingstown, the capital city of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines on May 18, 2022 in the final leg of his state visit to two nations –Jamaica and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. This is the first state visit of an Indian President to this country. The Governor General of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, H.E. Ms Dame Susan Dougan, Prime Minister, Dr the Hon. Ralph E. Gonsalves and other dignitaries received the President at the Argyle International Airport. The President was accorded a guard of honour at the Airport on arrival.
Yesterday (May 19, 2022), the President commenced his engagements by visiting the Government House where he met Governor General Dame Susan Dougan and Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves. During his meeting with the two leaders, the President thanked both of them for the warm and gracious hospitality extended to him in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. They discussed strengthening cooperation between India and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in the fields of Information Technology, health, education, tourism and culture and in the multilateral fora.
Following the meeting, President Kovind, Governor General Dame Susan Dougan and Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves witnessed the signing and exchange of an Agreement for the Exchange of Information and Assistance in Collection of Taxes and an MoU on Refurbishment of Old Calder Community Centre.
Subsequently, the President visited the Botanical Garden in Kingstown where he planted a sapling of the Indian White Sandalwood and witnessed a cultural performance consisting of a blend of Vincentian and Indian culture.
In the next engagement, the President addressed the special sitting of the House Assembly of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines on the topic “India and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines – Towards an Inclusive World Order”.
Speaking on the occasion, the President said that we live in a world characterized by multiple linkages among nation-States and people across the world. Today’s closely connected world has brought immense benefits to people around the globe through opening up of new markets, new educational and employment opportunities, greater access to information and new vistas for countries to engage with the outside world.
The President said that this globalized world order has also brought its own set of challenges. Climate Change, political conflicts threatening international peace and security, cross-border terrorism, supply-chain disruptions – are some of the major global challenges that impact us all. He said that nation states would have to look beyond their narrow self-interests in tackling these challenges for the well-being of our future generations.
The President said that multilateralism is more relevant in today’s inter-connected and interdependent world than it was at any time in our shared history. Multilateralism ought to be used as an instrument to promote strong, sustainable, balanced, and inclusive growth in all nation-states. However, for multilateralism to remain relevant and effective, institutions need to be reformed. Structures and institutions that emerged after the two world wars focused on one major issue – that of preventing another world war. To tackle the complex issues of today, the new world order that we seek to build, is to be an inclusive world order, where every country can express its legitimate interests. This can only happen by way of an expanded and better-designed representation system in key global institutions.
The President said that our objective in advocating for an inclusive world order is to promote a universal, rules-based, open, transparent, predictable, non-discriminatory, and equitable multilateral system. The need of the hour is, therefore, reform of global institutions, with the UN Security Council at its core, to reflect the contemporary global reality. He noted that on this issue, India and St. Vincent and the Grenadines share common interest, approach and understanding.
The President said that the Government of India’s motto is “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas and Sabka Prayas,” i.e., together with all, development for all, with everyone’s trust and with everyone’s efforts. This also demonstrates India’s approach in the global arena which means India believes in an inclusive world order that is sensitive to legitimate interests and concerns of every country and region, irrespective of its size or wealth. He said that India thinks and acts for the future of the entire humanity. It has remained steadfast in its commitment to share its experience, knowledge and skills acquired in its journey of development, with fellow developing countries. He expressed confidence that India and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines would continue to work closely together in advancing these shared objectives for an inclusive world order.
In the afternoon, the President visited the Calder Road in Kingstown where he addressed the Indian community and Friends of India.
In his brief remarks on the occasion, the President said that Indian Diaspora and Indians living in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines reflect India’s rich diversity, cultural heritage and traditions and India is proud of them and their achievements. He said that India’s developmental partnership with Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is based on the spirit of universal brotherhood. India wants to support them in building a stronger Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, with infrastructure projects that add value to the well-being of the people. He urged all of them to connect with the new India, its immense energy and rapid economic growth.
Subsequently, the President renamed Calder Road to ‘India Drive’ by unveiling of a plaque in the presence of Prime Minister Gonsalves, members of Indian community and other dignitaries.
In the final engagement of the day, the President attended a banquet hosted by the Governor General of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines at Government House.