Address by the hon’ble President of India Shri Ram Nath Kovind At the joint sitting of both the houses of Parliament of Jamaica

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Date –18 May 2022

I am deeply honoured to be addressing the Joint Sitting of both the Houses of Parliament today.

Madam Speaker

As the Constitutional Head of the world’s largest democracy, I feel delighted and honoured to speak to this august gathering of the leaders of the vibrant democracy of Jamaica.

Let me also state at the outset that being in Jamaica, experiencing its lively culture and meeting its even livelier people is something I was eagerly looking forward to. The soul-stirring songs of Bob Marley, Reggae music, sports superstars, as well as the warm and welcoming nature of the Jamaicans are well known the world over. So are your Blue Mountain coffee and the beautiful beaches.

Madam Speaker,

Fifteen thousand kilometres away from India, I feel very much at home before you. And why should I not, when this House has many distinguished members with Indian lineage.

Jamaica has welcomed Indians with open arms and given them dignity and respect. As a result, not just politics; but business, music, sports, dress, and food have all witnessed rich Indian presence.

I brought with me from India a sandalwood sapling, and I planted it at the India-Jamaica Friendship Garden in the Hope Botanical Gardens yesterday. I am confident that this sapling will grow into a tree and enrich the garden with its warm fragrance much like the Indian community has grown and is contributing to the development of Jamaica.

And yet, it is not only the Indian diaspora and the cultural bonds that bring our two countries together, but our belief in democracy and liberty also binds us together. The idea that all citizens are created equal is a central pillar of the Jamaican Constitution. Our founding fathers too shared the same belief and sought individual liberty for every citizen of India. They created a modern nation with freedom, democracy, and   equality as its soul. And in doing so, they ensured that we continued to celebrate ‘Unity in Diversity’, which is so similar to Jamaica’s motto of ‘Out of many, one People’. Thus, I stand here today, not only as a visiting Head of State but as a representative of a fellow nation with a shared tradition.

Madam Speaker,

Yesterday, I began my visit with paying my obeisance at the memorial of the Right Excellent Marcus Garvey. His pioneering leadership against injustice and discrimination has inspired generations across the globe, giving dignity and a better life to millions.

Members and Friends,

In India, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, revered by the people, dedicated himself for the uplift of the downtrodden and eradication of social evils. He introduced the provisions for social empowerment in the Constitution and was rightly called the ‘Architect of the Indian Constitution.’ I feel grateful for the gesture of Jamaican government to name an avenue in Kingston after Dr Ambedkar, which I inaugurated yesterday.

Madam Speaker,

It is indeed heartening to see that Jamaica has adhered to the ideals of democracy in letter and spirit since its independence sixty years ago. With an increasing role of women in the public sphere, Jamaica is setting the norms for others to emulate. I would like to congratulate Jamaica for setting an example by appointing a female Chief of Defence Staff.

With ample natural resources, strategic location, young population and dynamic leadership, Jamaica is poised for even greater economic success. Its leadership in the CARICOM region, international rules-based behaviour and the desire to shoulder greater responsibility make it a partner of choice for other countries.

Members and Friends,

As the world recovers from the COVID-19 crisis, India is projected to grow at the fastest rate among all the major economies. We have increased agricultural productivity many times over since independence, becoming a net exporter of food grains. India is also known as the ‘pharmacy of the world’, manufacturing quality medicines and vaccines at affordable costs.

India has crossed the renewable energy capacity of 150 Gigawatts and has set itself a target of 450 Gigawatts by 2030. We have also taken the lead in the International Solar Alliance to promote solar energy worldwide. India’s Space Programme has made great advances. We are one of the select countries to send an orbital Mission to Mars, in addition to regularly launching satellites for countries around the world.

India is poised to become a knowledge economy that creates, disseminates and utilizes knowledge to promote growth and development. Today, India and Indians are taking the lead in research and development on cutting-edge technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Meta-verse that form the basis of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. India is also the hub of start-ups and innovative technologies and is among the top three countries having the largest number of Unicorns.

Special reference must be made to India’s education sector, particularly its world-renowned institutes of excellence, with many of the alumni of the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) heading the largest businesses and technology companies of the world.

Under our National Education Policy released in 2020, India is planning to start new Indian Institutes of Technology abroad. I am happy that Jamaica is one of the first countries to express interest in hosting an Indian Institute of Technology here. The National Education Policy has also opened up specialized technical courses in premier Indian colleges and universities for foreign students. Jamaican students should take advantage of this opportunity by studying at some of the best institutions respected globally, charging only a fraction of the cost compared to western institutions.

Members and Friends,

The motto of “Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Vikas, Sab Ka Vishwas, Sab Ka Prayas” is our vision of the nation with an inclusive model of development covering every citizen. At the same time, it is a celebration of our diversity; the strength of social harmony; and a commitment to individual liberties and rights. This is the timeless ethos of our culture; this is the core of our Constitution and also the foundation of our future.

Madam Speaker,

India’s abiding faith in the ideal of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” which means “The World is one Family” reflects our eternal values. India provided medical assistance to more than 100 countries during the peak of the pandemic, and also reached out with COVID-19 vaccines to many countries, including Jamaica.

Madam Speaker,

Jamaica’s strategic position in the vicinity of some of the largest global economies, and its talented pool of English-speaking youth, provide it with an excellent opportunity to become a ‘knowledge highway’ and benefit from the Fourth Industrial Revolution. India shares Jamaica’s ‘Vision 2030’ goals of empowering its people and ensuring a secure, cohesive, and just society, while becoming a prosperous and sustainable economy.

India is ready to partner with Jamaica and share its technical skills, knowledge and expertise which could transform Jamaica’s education and businesses. Top Jamaican businesses already source software and take backroom technical support from technology companies based in India.

India and Jamaica are already cooperating under the International Solar Alliance for reducing the carbon footprint. There is also great potential for partnering in the railways and the agriculture sectors, which are among India’s strengths.

For a country with less than 3 million people, it is amazing to see Jamaica’s dominance in athletics at the Olympics, World Championships, and other premier sporting events.  You will find India turning to you to learn the lessons in sports and athletics. In music and entertainment, cross-pollination will enrich the entertainment industries in both the countries. Also, in hospitality and tourism, there is a great scope for cooperation and mutual learning.

Members and Friends,

I am confident that our convergences and complementarities will be mutually beneficial. As we celebrate the completion of 60 years of our diplomatic relations, let us derive inspiration and strength from our growing partnership, our foundational principles and shared values.

Let us continue to work together to convert our shared ideals into practical cooperation, and to create a more equitable world order. Our partnership will not just lead to building a bright future for our people but will also act as a bridge to a more united, humane, and prosperous world. I want to recall the expansive world view of Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Indian Nation, expressed by him while he spoke of the purpose of freedom for India, and I quote, “I want the freedom of my country so that other countries may learn something from my free country, so that the resources of my country may be utilized for the benefit of mankind.” [unquote]

With these words, I thank Madam Speaker for giving me an opportunity to address this august House. It was a pleasure to share my thoughts with you all. I wish that the people of our great democracies reach new heights of friendship, cooperation and prosperity.

Thank you!

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