President David Granger: Minister of State, Honourable Joseph Harmon, Former presidents, Mr. Donald Ramotar and Mr. Samuel Hinds, former Prime Minister, Mr. Hamilton Green, Ministers of the Government, Members of the National Assembly, His Excellency, Mr. Venkatachalam Mahalingam, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Distinguished Invitees, Members of the Indian Community, Members of the Media, Ladies and Gentlemen. On behalf of the Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, I extend congratulations to the Republic of India on the occasion of its 69th Republic Day celebration. I extend best wishes for the well-being of His Excellency Ram Nath Kovind, President of the Republic of India and for the continued progress and prosperity of the Government and People of India.

Excellencies, India’s struggle for independence inspired nationalist movements throughout the old European empires in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean and led to the eventual collapse of colonialism. India’s example, in consolidating its independence by severing ties with the British monarchy and establishing a democratic republic has been an example that was emulated by other states including the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.

India’s progress since becoming a Republic, especially in the fields of agriculture, information technology, infrastructural development, manufacturing and medicine has been spectacular. It continues to enjoy high and sustained rates of economic growth. India is now considered an emerging global power. It is a respected advocate for small states in the international community. It has been an influential voice within the Commonwealth of Nations, the Non-Aligned Movement and the United Nations since its Independence in 1947.

It was one of the first countries to establish formal diplomatic relations with the newly independent state of Guyana after May 1966 and the two states have enjoyed excellent relations since then. Our two countries have been bound by ties of blood and history for nearly 150 years since the 5th May 1838 when Indian indentured immigrants first began to arrive in British Guiana. India’s vice president at that time Shankar Dayal Sharma came to Guyana in 1988 to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of Indian Arrival here. Last year, 2017, we observed the 100th anniversary of the end of Indian indentured immigration to Guyana.

Excellencies, Guyana and India relations are founded unshakably on mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and mutual non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, cooperation for mutual benefit, respect for treaties and international laws and the maintenance of international peace and security. These were the five principles expressed universally in the Sanskrit words ‘panch sheel’, or ‘five virtues’. These are the principals of which define the relationship between the Republic of Guyana and the Republic of India.

India continues to contribute to Guyana’s economic development. Our two Republics have signed agreements for development projects in the fields of education, drainage and irrigation, healthcare, information communication technology and transportation, among others. Guyana reaffirms its friendship with India and recommits to renewing and reinforcing existing commitments to cooperation. The visit to India next week of a delegation from Guyana lead by our second vice president and foreign minister is expected to finalise more agreement for our mutual benefit.

Guyana looks forward to intensifying its cooperation with India in order to advance its ‘green’ development agenda. We are heartened by India’s offer to develop Guyana’s renewable energy resources in accord with our Green State Development Strategy. Guyana welcomes India’s offer to assist in reforming the sugar industry and to enhance trade, investment and collaboration in the fields of agriculture, education, mining and renewable energy among others.

Guyana supports the recent call of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi for renewed and united efforts to tackle definitive global challenges of our day such as climate change, terrorism and protectionism. The threat of climate change is real for low-lying coastal states such as Guyana although we are a negligible contributor to global carbon emissions; we remain committed to working with countries such as India to find solutions to this global threat.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, I ask you to join me in a toast to the good health and well-being of the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind and to the progress and prosperity of the Government and the People of India on this auspicious occasion.

Thank you.

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