President Murmu attends celebrations to mark 150th anniversary of arrival of Indians in Suriname
6 June, 2023 | Vaishali Sharma
On Tuesday, President Murmu and his Suriname counterpart Chandrikapersad Santokhi attended a cultural festival commemorating the arrival of Indians in Suriname 150 years ago.
On Tuesday, President Droupadi Murmu and his Suriname counterpart Chandrikapersad Santokhi attended a cultural festival commemorating the arrival of Indians in Suriname 150 years ago. President Murmu stated during her speech at the cultural festival that India and Suriname share many similarities. She stated that the diversity of the Surinamese people has won her heart.
“The beauty of your country’s lush green landscape, the remarkable variety of plants and wildlife and the pure breeze create a wonderful ambience. However, what has truly won my heart is the diversity of the people of Suriname. Your well welcome, your love, your enthusiasm,” President Murmu said.
“There are so many similarities between India that is well known for its diversity and Suriname that the people of both countries could integrate in each other’s societies very easily. I feel like I am in my own home,” she added.
President Murmu stated that they are commemorating the 150th anniversary of Indian settlement in Suriname. According to her, the first group of Indians on board a ship arrived in Suriname in 1873. She claimed that over the next few decades, more than 34,000 Indians would arrive in Suriname.
“We are all gathered here today to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the arrival of Indians in Suriname, an important milestone in the history of Suriname,” President Murmu said.
She further said, “They set out from their motherland on a very perilous journey. They didn’t know much about this new place. They then made it their home. Despite harsh working conditions and challenges such as low wages, they created a close-knit community, the roots of which were connected to their culture and traditions, a gift of their motherland India. Their stories are the chronicles of 150 years of patience, firm, resolve, courage and enterprise.”
President Murmu announced that the Indian government has decided to extend the eligibility criteria for the overseas citizenship of India. She said, “Today on this historic occasionI am very pleased to announce at this forum that my government has approved extending the eligibility criteria for the overseas citizenship of India. The OCI card from the fourth generation to the sixth generation. This will possibly enable all those people to get an OCI card whose ancestors came to Suriname on board the first ship.”
President Murmu said that she is proud of the contribution and achievements of the current generation of Indian Surinamese based here in promoting and strengthening India-Suriname relations. In her address, she further said, “At a time when Suriname is celebrating the legacy of its ancestors and its links with India, India stands with Suriname in solidarity and reverence.”
On Sunday, President Droupadi Murmu arrived at Suriname’s Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport in Paramaribo. She was greeted by Suriname’s Chief of Protocol and India’s ambassador to the country. It is the President’s first state visit to Suriname and her first since taking office in July 2022.