Suriname, a small South American nation, has recently bestowed its highest civilian honor upon Indian President Droupadi Murmu. The prestigious award, known as the ‘Grand Order of the Chain of the Yellow Star,’ was presented to President Murmu during her state visit to Suriname, which marked the commemoration of the 150th year of Indian arrival in the country. This article delves into the details of this historic event, the significance of the award, and the broader context of the India-Suriname relationship.
President Murmu’s State Visit to Suriname
Arrival and Welcome
President Droupadi Murmu arrived in Suriname on Sunday for her first state visit since assuming office in July last year. She was received by President Chandrikapersad Santokhi of Suriname at the Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport with full state honors. The visit aimed to strengthen diplomatic ties between the two countries and also marked the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the arrival of Indians in Suriname.
Luncheon Banquet and Discussions
During her visit, President Murmu attended a luncheon banquet hosted in her honor. She underlined India’s approach to an inclusive world order that is sensitive to the legitimate interests and concerns of every country and region. She also emphasized India’s commitment to building stronger bridges with both developing countries and advanced economies through its G20 presidency.
In her discussions with Suriname’s President, Murmu noted that bilateral trade between the two countries is well below potential. She expressed the need to work together to expand bilateral trade for mutual benefit and expressed confidence that the agreements signed during the visit would help boost the trade and economic ties between India and Suriname.
The Grand Order of the Chain of the Yellow Star
Award Presentation Ceremony
The highlight of President Murmu’s visit was the presentation of the ‘Grand Order of the Chain of the Yellow Star,’ Suriname’s highest civilian award. The award was presented to her by Surinamese President Chandrikapersad Santokhi at a ceremony held at the presidential palace.
Significance of the Award
President Murmu thanked President Santokhi and the Suriname government for the honor. She said that this recognition holds immense significance, not only for her but also for India’s billion-plus population. She dedicated the award to the successive generations of the Indian-Surinamese community, who have played a stellar role in enriching the ties between the two countries.
Reactions from Indian Leaders
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla both congratulated President Murmu on being conferred the highest civilian award of Suriname. Modi’s tweet highlighted that the special gesture from the Surinamese government and people symbolizes the enduring friendship between the two countries.
The 150th Anniversary of Indian Arrival in Suriname
President Murmu’s Address
During her visit, President Murmu addressed an event to mark 150 years of the arrival of Indians in Suriname. She expressed hopes that the Indian community would continue to strengthen the relationship between the two countries and act as a bridge connecting India and Suriname.
Enactment of Indian Arrival
To mark the occasion, President Droupadi Murmu and President Sabtokhi of Suriname witnessed a beautiful enactment of the arrival of the first group of Indians in Suriname aboard the Lalla Rookh by local artists. The President also inaugurated a simulated village with model habitats, artists, and actors depicting the daily life of the early Indian origin communities of Suriname.
Expansion of Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) Eligibility
During her address, President Murmu announced that the Indian government has approved extending the eligibility criteria for the Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card from the fourth generation to the sixth generation. This move aims to strengthen the bond between the Indian and Indian-Surinamese communities and facilitate their participation in India’s development journey.
India-Suriname Relations: Historical Context
The historical ties between India and Suriname date back to the 19th century when Indian laborers were brought to Suriname as indentured workers. The Indian-Surinamese community has since played a significant role in shaping the cultural, economic, and political landscape of Suriname.
The deep attachment and love demonstrated by the Indian Surinamese in their efforts to protect their rich heritage and language have touched the hearts of all Indians. President Murmu highlighted the similarities between India, known for its diversity, and Suriname, where people from both countries can easily integrate into each other’s societies.
Pharmaceutical, Ayurveda, Agriculture, and Defense Sectors
During her visit, President Murmu emphasized the scope of further collaboration between India and Suriname in sectors like pharmaceuticals, Ayurveda, agriculture, and defense. The increased cooperation in these sectors has the potential to benefit both countries economically and strengthen their bilateral ties.
Renewable Energy and Climate Change
As both India and Suriname face the challenges of climate change and the need for sustainable development, there are opportunities for collaboration in the fields of renewable energy and environmental conservation. Both countries can work together to develop and implement innovative solutions to tackle these global challenges.
Tourism and Cultural Exchanges
With their rich cultural heritage and natural beauty, both India and Suriname can benefit from increased tourism and cultural exchanges. By promoting tourism and fostering cultural understanding, the two countries can further strengthen their relationship and create economic opportunities for their citizens.
The state visit of President Droupadi Murmu to Suriname and the conferment of Suriname’s highest civilian award on her mark a significant milestone in the relationship between India and Suriname. The visit has opened up new avenues for cooperation and partnership between the two countries, with the potential to benefit both nations economically, culturally, and politically. As India and Suriname continue to build on their shared history and work towards a brighter future, the strong bond between the two countries is expected to grow even stronger.