President Ram Nath Kovind, on a state visit to Jamaica between Sunday (May 15) and Wednesday (May 18), hailed the ethnic connection and sports relations between India and Jamaica. The President lauded ‘the world’s fastest man’ – Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt – during his visit to the Caribbean island. The president also mentioned cricket icons Chris Gayle, George Headley and Michael Holding in his speech at the state banquet hosted by Sir Patrick Allen, Governor-General of Jamaica. He said, “They are admired by generations of Indian cricket lovers Cricket binds our geographically distant nations very closely”. Gayle and several other Jamaican cricketers are playing in India’s Premier League. (IPL), a financially lucrative 20 overs format of the game that started in India some 14 years ago. This year is the fifteenth edition of the game.
The President told the gathering at a state banquet that “Jamaica has a very special place in India, saying more than 175 years ago, a ship carrying about 200 Indians landed in Jamaica. Since then, Indians from all walks of life have been coming to this beautiful country, making it their home”.
Earlier, in a speech to the joint sitting of parliament, the president mentioned the importance of sports in India-Jamaica relations and the presence of Indians on the island territory. “Jamaica has welcomed Indians with open arms and given them dignity and respect. As a result, not just politics; but business, music, sports, dress, and food have all witnessed rich Indian presence”, he said.
Jamaica has an Indian diaspora of some 70K Indians. Thousands of Jamaican Indians migrated to the UK and North America. Almost a century ago, thousands of Jamaican Indians migrated to Cuba to work on sugar plantations. Many also went to Panama to build the Canal. Hundreds of Jamaica Indians are scattered around the Caribbean as economic migrants and in business.
The President was given a rousing welcome on the island nation. He left for St. Vincent on Wednesday.
By Vishnu Bisram