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"Energy, renewable energy particularly, is our collective interest," Jaishankar at 4th CARICOM-India meeting
Georgetown: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar who co-chaired the fourth India-CARICOM ministerial meeting on Saturday emphasised the need for "collective interest" in the field of renewable energy amid climate change.
Delivering opening remarks at the meeting, Jaishankar said, "Energy, renewable energy particularly, is our collective interest. Many of you are members of the International Solar Alliance. I think 13 members are there from the CARICOM. I believe it's been of some help in capacity building, in some cases even funding. I'll be again open to taking that help. Regarding capacity building as a whole, we have for many years now, under what we call, the ITEC programs." The foreign minister, however, noted that the offtake in programs, exchanges, scholarships has not been as strong.
"My suggestion which I would like you to consider is, whether instead of our inviting you to participate in a general course, which we are doing globally for everybody, can we actually take domains or area specific areas which are of specific interest to the CARICOM. And we are prepared to customize programs in whatever area, which are completely dedicated only to the requirements of CARICOM officials or users as the case maybe," Jaishankar said.
Jaishankar on Friday reached Guyana where he was accorded a welcome by Hugh Todd, minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation. The visit marks Jaishankar's first visit to the country.
The external affairs minister said that he appreciated CARICOM leaders for their effort to attend the meeting at very short notice and assured them it "will give us a chance at a very important juncture to see how we look at our relationship with a greater sense of purpose."
Jaishankar said that India's G20 Presidency is "not just for ourselves but also for the countries, who are not on the G-20 table."
Speaking on India, the Voice of Global South, he said, "we should really be looking at Global problems and our own problems and seeing how we can find a solution together. Now there are obviously some process issues and I would like to confirm that we would like to hold the Joint Commission sometime this year; we seek your convenience and are very flexible there. And when I look at the relationship itself, I think we rightly focus on capacity building, on development cooperation and where we can be of help on disaster management and the resilience."
He also highlighted the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and CARICOM leaders in the last four years that led to agreement on 23 projects, out of which 10 are completed.
"Meeting between Prime Minister Modi and many of your leaders in 2019, the window, the UNDP India window, which we opened up in 2017, has yielded a number of projects. We have agreed on 23 projects so far. I believe 10 of them are done, some of them have been done through a CARICOM window, some of them through a commonwealth window, some through a broader developing country window."
Speaking on cultural and historical ties, Jaishankar said, "History and geography in a way have done to bind us together. Certainly, yet if there is a lack of bond, cricket makes up for it and I assure you that if you schedule the next meeting in this part of the world next year when the World Cup is on, I promise I will come."
"I want to stress the importance of people-to-people relations, and culture. Just want to underline that, you know, many of you are marking important anniversaries this year, and next year, including, my congratulations on 50 years of CARICOM. And if there is any way we can be culturally contributed, please feel free to let us know," added Jaishankar.
He also talked about similar challenges faced by India and CARICOM. "I think today we face similar challenges, similar aspirations, questions of prosperity, of reduction of poverty, quality of life."
Speaking on COVID, he said has posed many challenges. "The increasing intensity and frequency of climate events, the debt and many stressful situations that many of us find ourselves in. And I would say food and energy, security concerns, these are really pressing issues where it is important for us to sit down and discuss," he said.
Jaishankar also put forward collective consideration, a proposal, in the field of small and medium scale industry, small and medium enterprises.
"We would be open to supporting on a grant basis; projects, individual projects of up to a value of a million dollars and we would solicit proposals from you. What we would like to do is to create a partner group in India which will be from our small and medium enterprises, the Foreign Ministry fronting. And see whether, you know, our capability which will include the supply of machinery, of technology, of training, whether if we can get really viable project or offers from your side; we would be very, very happy to look at that," he said.
The EAM also discussed working together in agriculture. "We actually have an MOU between the Caribbean Agriculture Research Institute and our counterpart in India. It has not been operationalized for some reason; I think it might be in our mutual interest to do so," said Jaishankar.
He said that the COVID pandemic had brought out the growing importance of health security and highlighted the use of low-cost generic medicine which would hugely benefit low-income consumers. He said, "If you feel that is of interest, the idea of really creating a system for low-cost generics, to be available to your people is something we can look at, we would obviously like to create a regional hub and that to happen as well. And I should add that, you know, most of these would come, not most of these, all of these would come really from USFDA approved plants of which currently we have about 600 of them in India."
Speaking on Yoga, he said, "With the support of all of you, we started an International Day of Yoga in 2015 and it's been spectacularly successful. But we are increasingly seeing post-COVID, tourism benefit which flows out of it; there is a lot of wellness tourism which is happening in the world."
Jaishankar also spoke on the traditional medicine centre set up in India, he said, "I would like to draw to your attention that the WHO has actually approved the creation of the first traditional medicine centre, the Global Center in India. So work is going on that as we speak, obviously, a lot of it is Indian, but we are very open to soliciting traditional practices from every other part of the world." (ANI)