President Droupadi Murmu and Suriname counterpart Chandrikapersad Santokhi on Tuesday attended a cultural festival to mark 150 years of the arrival of Indians to Suriname.
In her address at the cultural festival, President Murmu stated that there are many similarities between India and Suriname. She said that the diversity of the people of Suriname 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 said that they are marking the 150th anniversary of the arrival of Indians in Suriname. She said that the first group of people from India on board a ship arrived in Suriname in 1873. She stated that more than 34,000 Indians arrived in Suriname over the next few decades.
“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.”
President Droupadi Murmu arrived at Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport in Paramaribo, Suriname on Sunday. She was received by the Chief of Protocol of Suriname and the Indian ambassador to the country. It is the President’s maiden visit to Suriname and also her first state visit since assuming office in July 2022.