India’s ITEC has helped us grow: T&T minister

Port-of-Spain, Jan 27 (IANS) The Indian Technical and Economic Co-operation (ITEC) programme, which has benefitted over 400 persons in this Caribbean nation has helped it grow, a minister has said, even as he waxed eloquent over the relations between the two nations — not forgetting their cricketing ties.

“The programme provides training to our nationals in many areas for which India has expertise, including IT, the environment, renewable energy and management,” Acting Minister of Foreign and Caribbean Community (CARIVOM) Affairs Edmund Dillion said at celebrations to mark India’s 68th Republic Day here Thursday night, where he was the Chief Guest.

Trinidad and Tobago and India established formal diplomatic relations after this nation obtained independence in 1962.

“Our relationship has continued to grow and through continued people to people contact,technical co-operation, investment and joint ventures in the business sector,” Dillon said.

“India’s excellence has not only been in areas of work, but in play as well, having produced the likes of Sunil Gavaskar, the greatest opening batsman in cricket history, who incidentally made his Test debut at our own Queen’s Park Oval in 1971.”

“India’s first-ever win over the West Indies was also in Trinidad and Tobago, with Gavaskar batting the winning runs,” Dillion said.

He recalled that moment when Lord Relator (born Willard Harris) wrote the ‘Gavaskar Calypso’ to celebrate the team’s winning performance: “Gavaskar, the real master, just like a wall we couldn’t out Gavaskar at all, not at all, the West indies couldn’t out Gavaskar at all.”

Dillion said that over the years after the first Indians arrived in 1845, the diaspora has “grown and prospered, maintaining their cultural heritage and transforming the socio-economic fabric of our twin-island nation with their food, music, dance and religions”.

“I cannot imagine Trinidad and Tobago without Chutney music, a month-long Diwali celebration at Divali Nagar, or a breakfast without Double and Aloo Pie (a local delicacy), can you?”

Indian High Commissioner Bishwadip Dey, in his welcome address at the event attended by diplomats, businessmen, ministers, including former Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Dookeran, noted that prominent personalities from here have studied in India under Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) scholarships, and there are currently three Chairs in Indian Studies at the University of the West Indies.

The Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Cultural Co-operation (MCICC) established here in 1997 has several courses for learning Indian classical dance, yoga and Hindi.

Dey said that both countries have had regular high-level bilateral visits, including tours by former Indian Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh.

He said that bilateral trade between the two countries has been steady and shown signs of improving though it holds a lot of potential yet to be explored.

“The government of Trinidad and Tobago and the government of India have reiterated on several occasions their resolve to further deepening and strengthening our bilateral relationship,” he said.

Earlier in the day, India’s tricolour was unfurled at the Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Cultural Co-operation, along with a cultural presentation.

(Paras Ramoutar can be contacted at