Tuesday, February 21, 2012

It was an emotional journey back in time for the proud inheritor of a
legacy of grit, sweat and tears. Hon.Kamla Persad Bissessar, Prime
Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, who is on a 10-day official visit to
India, chose to spend a day tracing her roots. After an eventful trip
to her ancestral Buxar village in Bihar she paid a historic visit to
Kolkata Memorial symbolizing the emotional and cultural bond among
the descendants of millions of indentured labourers who had left the
Indian shores from 1834-1920. The memorial was erected through the
initiative of Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO)
at the spot from where the multitude of labourers set sail to far off
lands including Trinidad.

On January 11, the banks of Hooghly river reverberated with echoes
from the past as the first Indian-origin Prime Minister of Trinidad
and Tobago paid glowing tributes to her ancestors’ courage to brave
adversities to ensure a better life for their progeny. Draped in a red
sari, she walked around the memorial offering flowers in full media
blaze. She also planted a sapling at the harbor. She remarked, ‘’I
wish my grandfather and father were here holding my hand,’’ while
struggling to hold back tears.

Earlier the visiting Prime Minister attended a dinner hosted in her
honour by GOPIO. Addressing the gathering she lauded the efforts of
GOPIO in bringing the global Indian diaspora closer. She shared the
global perception that PIOs have become highly successful in their
chosen fields as business men or professionals. She said the people of
Indian Origin who constitute 42 per cent of the population of her
country have managed to keep alive the values, traditions and
festivals of their forefathers. While thanking the GOPIO for the
gracious hospitality, she assured the organization of her government’s
help in all its efforts towards a better world and a better Trinidad
and Tobago.

Mr.Sunny Kulathakal,Executive Vice President, GOPIO, in his address
explained the historical and cultural significance of Kolkata
Memorial. ‘’The Kolkata Memorial is of meaningful significance with


shared sentiments among millions of descendants of those who left
India as indentured labourers from 1834-1920. The memorial has been
well received by the global Indian diaspora. Cogratulating the Prime
Minister on her being conferred the prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya
Samman award, he termed her visit to the memorial as a great honour to
the memory of indentured labourers.

Mr.Malay Mishra, India’s High Commissioner to Trinidad and Tobago,
urged GOPIO to broaden its activities in Trinidad to make it more
effective. Mr.Chanderdatt Singh, High Commissioner of Trinidad and
Tobago in India, West Bengal minister Mr.Sudarshan Ghosh, Mr.P.Roy,
Director, Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Minister
for Foreign Affairs, Trinidad and Tobago, Dr.Rambachan, spoke. While
Mr.Aravind Sood welcomed the gathering Mr.Mridul Pathak, GOPIO
co-ordinator, proposed a vote of thanks.