Reflecting the high priority that it gives to relations with Suriname and the diaspora in that South American nation, the government of India is sending President Draupadi Murmu to represent it on the occasion of celebrations to commemorate 150th anniversary since the first arrival of Indians to that former Dutch colony. This is the second time a President of India is visiting Suriname; President Ram Nath Kovind visited in June 2018. Sending Murmu-ji to Suriname is an affirmation (reflection) of the importance attached to relations with Suriname and the diaspora – strengthening bilateral (culture and trade) relations. Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi seeks to advance its cooperation with Latin and Caribbean countries resulting in several high level visits to the region over the last nine years. India prepares to expand its relations with Suriname as they celebrate almost 50 years of their bilateral relations this year.
India enjoys close, warm and friendly relations with Suriname, reinforced by cultural, trade, and people to people contact bridged by the large Indian Diaspora in the country dating back to 150 years with the landing of the first shipload of Indians. Warm and cordial relations continued after the Dutch colony gained independence in 1975. Even while Suriname was a colony, independent India had a representative to promote cultural relations as half of Suriname’s population have traced their roots to India. India recognized Suriname’s independence and opened an Embassy. India offered legitimacy to the independent government and helped building capacity of the leadership. India sent experts to help the independent nation. Indian Cultural Centre in Suriname was opened in 1978 and as the Embassy states India is very actively pursuing soft-power diplomacy initiatives and the whole gamut of ICCR’s outreach including, Hindi language, classical dancing such as Kathak, Yoga and classical music.
Suriname has made enormous economic progress in its relations with India. India has been very kind and generous with financial assistance to Suriname. Assistance to Suriname has been very strong and ongoing and takes many forms. In turn, India has come in for widespread appreciation in Suriname. There exists abundance of goodwill for India in Suriname. Relations have been sustained by regular interactions of delegations, exchange of bilateral visits, the presence of an active embassy in each other’s capital city, diplomacy, Indian aid and assistance, capacity building, cultural exchanges, agricultural and other concessional loans for developmental projects, technical assistance, scholarships, and more benefiting Suriname. Contemporary times have witnessed expansion of cooperation in diverse fields such as institutional capacity building, human resource development and extension of financial assistance in infrastructure projects. The bilateral relations have been reinforced by several high-level visits – India’s President visit in 2018, Suriname’s presidential visit (Santokie) in January 2023, Foreign Minister Albert Ramdin’s multiple visits to India; Suriname’s Agriculture Minister’s presence at the millet’s conference last March. Earlier, Vice President H.E Ashwin Adhin visited India in March 2016 and again 2017. Minister of State for External Affairs, Gen(Retd) V.K Singh visited Paramaribo on April 28, 2017 in connection with sixth Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) and Several MOUs were signed in the areas of Centre for IT Excellence. Considerable development support through programs such as the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) and Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC) India is also providing central assistance for that focus on the development of the nation. Economy Trade and economic links between India and Suriname are modest but has been growing in recent years and will expand. Suriname appreciates India’s role in supplying COVID-19 vaccines during the deadly epidemic.
The visit of President Murmu will strengthen and deepen the relations between India and Suriname. By finding convergence and enhancing cultural, physical, and economic ties, both nations can take their relations to new heights. Enhancing relations with India gives Suriname a better chance to diversify its economy and quicken development. Advancing bilateral ties with India seems appropriate in terms of its needs. Thoughts should be given to boost cultural tourism can be immensely fruitful for generating people-to-people links since both nations share common cultural and historical roots. Direct air flight services and visa free travel should be considered.