When in the year 1498 explorer Christopher Columbus carried back news to the King and Queen of Spain that he had “discovered” Trinidad and Bellaforma (an incongruity, since they had been inhabited for centuries before by native Amerindians, Arawaks and Caribs), they were not too enthused. Neither Trinidad, nor Bellaforma later to be renamed Tobago, promised any gold, and, therefore, to Spain and its royalty that was on a colonizing binge, the islands’ combined worth meant very little.
Five hundred years later, things have changed. The oil-rich islands mean much to the entire Caribbean community where Trinidad and Tobago has a leadership position. The country is seen as a gateway to the American markets both in the north and the south. Economically it is streets ahead of its neighbours in the region. Politically, even though there is open friction between the Pan-African dominated and ruling PNM and its rival, the East Indian - led UNC, the country provides for a stable political climate. Importantly, the twin islands provide a wealth of opportunities, the subject of exploration of the first ever Trade and Investment Mission mounted in June from India by the country’s High Commission in New Delhi. We showcase some of these opportunities in this special issue on Trinidad and Tobago.
Pundit Maniedeo Persad, the High Commissioner of Trinidad and Tobago in New Delhi, who led over 60 registered delegates from India, Bangladesh and Singapore to his country in June, is clearly a man on a mission. Over the last nearly five years that he has been in New Delhi, and concurrently held responsibility for the missions in Dhaka, Colombo, Jakarta, Singapore and Tokyo, Pundit Persad has been more proactive than most of his counterparts in the Indian capital. Trinidad and Tobago is now on the radar of all top chambers of commerce and industry, state Governments, business associations, tour and travel agencies and large businesses in the South Asian region. In less than a year after it opened its first office at the Brian Lara promenade in Port of Spain, for instance, the Bank of Baroda is setting up three more offices in Trinidad. It’s a testimony to how the East Indian community that makes up over 40 per cent of the country’s one million people, has taken to an Indian entity.
Having demonstrated their abiding Indian traditions over the last century, today the East Indian community in Trinidad is not too caught up in its Indian-ness, which is a good sign, since it has become part of the larger global fraternity that embraces Trinidad and Tobago’s landscape. At the same time, there is this firm belief within the East Indian community that the land of their ancestors has much to offer Trinidad, and they’d want to see ties strengthened in every which way with India.
This is just the right time to make an exploration to this beautiful twin-island nation and see how real the opportunities indeed are. Today, even the royalty in Spain would agree.
Rakesh K. Simha
Vatsala Kaul, Dinesh Raheja, Indrani Talukdar (all India), Srikanth Beldona, Dharminder Diwan, Arnelle Hartenstein (all US), Rajesh Kumar (New Zealand), Ramesh Mathew (Qatar)
Correspondent: Ummul Saba
Art & Design
Jaydev Bisht (Head - Design and Layout)
Debashish Dutta (Consultant - Design)
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