During his address to guests at his welcome reception at his Federation Park residence on Thursday, new Indian High Commissioner Arun Kumar Sahu said when he was informed of the decision to send him as India’s envoy to TT, three names struck his instantly: Dr Eric Williams, VS Naipaul and Brian Lara.
He recalled Dr Williams, TT’s first Prime Minister, who talked about inclusiveness and togetherness before independence in 1962, eventually proclaiming TT’s motto, "Together we aspire, together we achieve."
Sahu said he was fortunate to meet the writer Naipaul when he was serving in India’s mission in London 14 years ago.
“It was through A House for Mr Biswas that my mind as a teenager was opened to post-colonial diaspora writings and the struggle, travails and turmoil associated with human migration.”
The high commissioner said Brian Lara is a household name in India, where cricket is no less than a faith.
“His 100s, 200s, 300s and 400 are symbols of human tenacity, perfection and limitless possibilities. I hope to get an opportunity to meet him someday, now that I am in his city.”
He added that youngsters in India who dream of being successful professional cricketers keep watching Lara, along with India’s own cricket great, Sachin Tendulkar.
Sahu said India and TT share common history and heritage, that of a colonial past and a diverse present.
“We are vibrant parliamentary democracies with strong and matured political, economic and cultural institutions.
“We have a thirst for knowledge, for success, especially in science, innovation, technology and protection of environment. But we have challenges to meet, dreams to realise and aspirations to fulfil.”
Sahu said his mandate is to work assiduously to forge linkages, build bridges and facilitate endeavours that will help both governments and peoples of both nations to achieve these goals. He closed his address with a quote from Dr. Williams saying, ‘together we can succeed.’
Reita Toussaint, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Foreign and Caricom Affairs, welcomed Sahu to TT, telling him his arrival here is underpinned by a dynamic bilateral diplomatic relationship spanning more than 50 years. But, she said, the ties between the two countries run much deeper, as they are historically rooted within the period of indentureship in TT.
“Those who made the journey brought with them their culture, language, talents and skills, allowing their descendants to become an integral part of TT’s cultural, socio-economic and political landscape,” said Toussaint.
She added that TT and India have a shared colonial heritage, active people-to-people contact and cultural affinity. Along with a strong diaspora in TT, co-operation in such fields as agriculture, climate change, education, trade, sustainable development, health, sport, technology and global issues of mutual concern has fostered an enduring and mutually beneficial relationship for the people of TT and India.
Toussaint too made reference to both countries’ love for cricket.
“Our mutual love for the game and engagements throughout the years have led to sportsmen of both our countries garnering worldwide acclaim.”
However, when she spoke of the Indian cricket team’s recent tour of the West Indies, everyone present was only too aware of the terrible outcome for the WI team and sighed.
Sahu arrived with his wife Sasmita and 11-year-old son on Tuesday, and presented his credentials to President Paula-Mae Weekes on Wednesday.