'India mindful of diaspora's cultural needs in Jamaica' | india | Hindustan Times
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'India mindful of diaspora's cultural needs in Jamaica'

The Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi said India would work towards strengthening cultural links with the diaspora.

india Updated: Jun 09, 2007 17:21 IST

Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi has assured the Indian community in Jamaica that the government was alive to the cultural needs of those settled abroad.

Ravi, during his visit to the Caribbean country, told the Indian Cultural Community (ICC) there that India would work towards strengthening the group in order to maintain cultural links with the Indian diaspora. The ICC is the nodal body that promotes the diversity of Indian culture in Jamaica.

Ravi visited Jamaica June 5-7 as part of his weeklong Caribbean tour.

There are around 50,000 people of Indian origin in Jamaica - most of them descendants of Indians who had gone there in the 19th and the early 20th centuries to work as indentured labour in sugarcane plantations.

The minister also attended a reception hosted by the Indian high commissioner there and interacted with a cross section of the Indian community. Ravi called upon them to integrate further with the Jamaican society while maintaining their cultural and ancestral link with India, a ministry press release said.

During his trip, the minister called upon Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller who expressed her desire to visit India.

While meeting Jamaican Foreign Minister Anthony Hylton, Ravi said India would extend full support to Jamaica in the fields of IT, manpower training and educational and cultural exchanges within the framework of the cultural agreement signed by the two countries.

Before coming to Jamaica, the minister had visited Curacao, capital of the Netherlands Antilles and home to around 500 persons of Indian Origin (PIOs).

He met Netherlands Antilles Prime Minister Emily de Jongh-Elhage, who deeply appreciated the contribution made by the Indian community to the island's economic development.

Ravi drew her attention to the recent fires in the free trade zone in Curacao that had affected the interests of Indian businessmen, and requested that the matter be expedited.

He also took up the issue of the general delay in visas and the complicated procedure for obtaining visas to Aruba and St. Martin.

The minister also visited Trinidad & Tobago and Suriname, both countries with a large Indian origin population.