Suriname Vice-President, Michael Ashwin Adhin (L), meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi
By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor
BENGALURU, India -- Suriname’s youthful vice-president, Michael Ashwin Adhin, who is attending the Privasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD 2017), an annual gathering of the global Indian diaspora, has urged India to take on a more active global role especially to act as a “balancing” economic and political force, without mentioning the United States, Russia and China.
He is also spending his nine-day visit to India to advance bilateral ties, solicit foreign investment and transfer of Indian technology.
Speaking in both English and Hindi at the opening of the Youth PBD Conference, and quoting from the Baghavad Gita and the Upanishads, two sacred Hindu texts, Adhin caught the attention of India media outlets, and even the prime minister of India, Narendra Modi, congratulated the Surinamese vice president for his “very inspiring speech.” The media has given his visit popular coverage.
On Sunday, during his meeting with Modi, they discussed issues relating to various sectors such as agriculture, animal husbandry, palm oil and wood processing for improving bilateral cooperation.
Adhin said he saw considerable potential in Ayurveda in Suriname and sought India's help to create an eco-system for propagation of Ayurveda and turn the country into an Ayurveda capital, according to Vikas Swarup, spokesperson for the Indian external ministry.
As a starting point, Modi suggested that Surinamese could enroll in courses in Indian Ayurveda universities to learn the discipline to develop Suriname as the “Ayurveda capital of South America”.
Adhin also sought investments in other sectors such as pharmaceuticals and mining.
In addition, during his meeting with Modi, Adhin sought an early meeting of the India-Suriname joint commission to move forward bilateral cooperation.
Adhin urged India to transfer “nature-friendly technology to Suriname and other countries such as Mauritius, Fiji, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago through the Indian diaspora”.
He said that “the transformation of India implies an influential India at the global-level and there has to be a greater economic and technological cooperation. Any contribution by the Indian diaspora to India should be mutually beneficial.”
Adhin said: "The transformation of India implies an 'influential India' at the global level. But the question is: Why do I need an influential India?"
Emphasizing greater economic and technological cooperation between India and Suriname, he said: "Today, nearly 30% of Suriname's population comprises East Indians (Hindustanis). They started as labourers brought to Suriname from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar between 1873 and 1916. These people did not forget the cultural values they had brought with them from India. Now Suriname Indians have acquired key positions in the government."
He appealed to India to play the role of a big brother.
"Monopoly in business should be reduced and the rise of new nations should be encouraged to ensure balance of power. Technologies like artificial intelligence and robotics should be used to reduce the cost of living. India should emerge as superpower not only because it has potential but also because it has spirituality and values that define a Vishwa guru (world leader). There should be mutual benefits for both the nations," Adhin said.
He also used the forum to solicit Indian businesses to invest in Suriname, which is rich gold, wood, fresh water, bauxite, oil and a vast forest cover.
"We are a green and a blue economy. With technology from India, we can also compete," Adhin said.
On January 12, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh and Minister of State Shripad Yesso Naik will meet with the Surinamese vice president. Singh will soon visit Suriname and it is expected that during that visit some major investments deals will be signed.
The 36 year-old vice president of Suriname was a former minister of education, science and culture. He holds several degrees in electrical engineering and telecommunication from the University of Delft, in the Netherlands. He is an avid yoga practitioner and healer, student and teacher of Hindustani classical music, vocal, Tabla and Harmonium. His ancestors left Uttar Pradesh, India over a century ago. Adhin speaks Hindi, Dutch, English, Sarnami Hindustani and Sranan Togo, the lingua franca of Suriname.