THE ARRIVAL in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) this week of the president of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind’s marks the first time that a president of India has visited this multi-island state.
Kovind touched down at the Argyle International Airport (AIA) on Wednesday morning aboard an Air India One-B777, at the start of his official threeday state visit to SVG.
First Lady of India, Savita Kovind and daughter, Swati Kovind also form part of the president of India’s delegation.
The Indian president and his delegation were welcomed by Governor General, Dame Susan Dougan, prime minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves and his wife, Eloise along with parliamentarians and other officials.
“India and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines have historical relations established by our forefathers, years ago, even before our countries had become independent. We are both multi-racial societies with a common history of British colonial rule,” Kovind said as he addressed a special sitting of the House of Assembly yesterday morning.
“Our friendship is rooted in our common historical and cultural heritage as well as our shared values of democracy, inclusion, freedom and the rule of law. Our bilateral engagement has blossomed in the last few years. The visit of the Honourable Prime Minister, Ralph Gonsalves to India in September, 2019 infused new energy into our relations.”
Kovind noted that both India and SVG are connected by their common interest for the realisation of an inclusive world order.
The Indian president congratulated the archipelagic state for “the stellar role it played in advocating for a meaningful time-bound progress in the Inter- Governmental Negotiations process on Security Council reforms, during its membership of the Security Council for the years 2020-2021”.
He added that he was confi dent that India and SVG will continue to work closely together in advancing shared objectives for an inclusive world order.
After arriving in SVG on Wednesday morning, some members of the delegation from India boarded a catamaran for a tour of the Wallilabou Bay where the movie, Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed.
Along the way, they visited the Kingstown Harbour and the site of the new port development project, the Campden Park Industrial site, the new Sandals Beaches resort site, and the Mount Wynne hotel development site.
Prior to addressing the House of Assembly yesterday, the Indian president engaged in a private meeting with prime minister Gonsalves, after which two memoranda of understanding (MOU), were signed in the main hall at Government House.
The MOUs signed relate to the Automatic Exchange of Information and Assistance in Collection of Taxes; and Health and Medicine.
The visiting president then engaged in a brief ceremony at the Botanic Gardens, where he planted an Indian White Sandalwood tree, before witnessing cultural performances that blended both Indian and Vincentian Culture.
Kovind also toured the aviary at the Gardens, where the National bird, Amazon Guildingii are housed.
First Lady of India, Savita Kovind and her daughter, Swati Kovind visited the School for Children with Special Needs in Kingstown alongside Governor General, Dame Susan Dougan on Thursday morning.
The first lady presented a cheque for US$25,000 to the Governor General Charitable Fund.
A ceremony re-naming the Calder Road main to India Drive was held on Thursday afternoon, followed by a state banquet at Government House. Today, Friday 20, the president will tour the new developments on Canouan, and participate in a working lunch at the Foxy Jacks restaurant, hosted by Prime Minister Gonsalves.
A cocktail reception is also expected to take place later this evening at the La Vue Hotel, where Kovind will present donations to the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Cricket Association, and the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Cricket Umpires Association, respectively.
The Indian president is expected to depart SVG to return to India following today’s activities.