By Minister of State for the Ministry of External Affairs of India V Muraleedharan
I, Vellamvelli Muraleedharan, the minister of state in India’s Ministry of External Affairs, bring to The Bahamas the best wishes from the government and the people of India on your Independence Day.
Coming from a similar colonial background, India understands and values the importance of freedom that Bahamas celebrates today. Even more important is the fact that The Bahamas has maintained its democratic credentials throughout this journey. Incidentally, India is also celebrating 75 years of being an independent country. Being functioning democracies, it is even more important that our two countries cooperate closely to promote democratic values worldwide.
My planned visit to The Bahamas (cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances) was a continuation of a series of visits by Indian officials to this country. Former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had visited Nassau in 1985 for the Commonwealth Head of Governments Meeting (CHOGM). The then Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani had come to The Bahamas in 2015 while Law and Justice Minister Ravishankar Prasad visited The Bahamas in 2017. From the Bahamian side, the 2016 visit of the then Foreign Minister Fred Mitchell to India helped in strengthening the relationship.
Convergence of views on various important contemporary issues, shared concerns, aspirations and excellent cooperation at various multilateral fora has largely shaped and dominated India-Bahamas bilateral relations. With respect for rule of law and rights of the people, both share similar aspirations for accelerated economic growth.
India and Bahamas have shared stakes in shaping the emerging architecture of various multilateral institutions to address existing inequities and addressing major contemporary issues related to energy security, food security and climate change. The Bahamas has consistently supported Indian candidatures to various UN and other international bodies.
Bahamas is sensitive to India’s concerns on international terrorism and supports Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) proposed by India. The Bahamas’ position is also largely in sync with our position in various trade developments and other global issues. Bahamas is also supportive of our aspirations to play a larger global role, as also in The Bahamas and the Caribbean region.
Our relations during COVID-19 pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic brought out the best of our relationship. I thank the Bahamian government for taking good care of Indians in The Bahamas during the crisis and facilitating their repatriation process. For its part, India also chipped in by sharing COVID-19 vaccine doses and medical equipment with The Bahamas to help it in containing the COVID crisis.
Economic cooperation post-COVID-19
Despite the severe second COVID-19 wave, the Indian economy is on the path to recovery. Even by conservative estimates, India will rebound to a 10 percent growth rate in the current financial year. Investors continue to exhibit confidence in the Indian economy as stock markets soar. Agricultural production has been at a record high, and consumer demand is on the rise. The Bahamian economy has also held up well during the pandemic. Close economic cooperation between India and The Bahamas in the medical sector, renewable energy, tourism and other fields will help both of us recover faster from the pandemic.
The first India-CARICOM Summit in September 2019 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session signaled the importance that we attach to the region. The announcement of the US$1 million grant to all members of the CARICOM for community development projects and the US$ 150 million line of credit for undertaking projects for sustainable development have been widely appreciated in the CARICOM. With Bahamas being an important member of the CARICOM, India hopes to partner closely with it under the aegis of this very important multilateral grouping to increase engagement with the region.
The small but vibrant Indian community in The Bahamas has distinguished itself in the medical field, business and other areas. They have integrated well in the Bahamian mainstream society and play a stellar role in bringing the two countries closer.
V Muraleedharan is the minister of state in the Ministry of External Affairs, government of India. He had been scheduled for an official visit to The Bahamas from July 9-12, 2021, but the visit was cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. Any comments may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.