After he traveled some 17,000 kilometers, Saint Lucia played host to the first official state visit by a minister in the Government of India, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Union Minister for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (Independent Charge), who was in Saint Lucia on a three-day visit earlier this week. The union minister said, “This is the first visit of a union minister from the government of India since our independence. History has been established.”
In a one-on-one sit-down with the STAR, the minister highlighted his government’s bid to establish an outreach programme in countries that share cultural, economical, historical and political similarities with his own. Saint Lucia and India are both sitting members of the Commonwealth. During his visit, the minister had the opportunity to sit with Home, Justice and National Security Minister, Hermangild Francis, along with External Affairs Minister Sara Flood.
He lauded the local ministers’ enthusiasm about the cultural linkage proposals with his country, citing specifically Minister Flood’s expression of gratitude to India for reaching out to the Saint Lucian Government. Mr. Rudy indicated that while working out the bilateral agreements, broad concensus had been reached for a future visit to Saint Lucia by senior executives in his Ministry representing the flelds of agriculture, hospitality and tourism, furniture and fixtures.
He also highlighted areas of discussion held with Justice Minister Francis, dealing specifically with partnerships in law enforcement training since India engages in a three-tier policing system. This linkage would create a significant capacity for training officers. All of this, he hopes, will come to pass as the partnership between the two countries grows.
The reopening of an Indian consulate here is another bilateral arrangement that may also be on the table as the political relationship grows. Mr. Rudy remarked on the strong presence of the Indian community here in Saint Lucia, as well as its economic contribution to the island.