Dear Editor,
On January 26, 1950, India became a Republic. It was an important date since it marked a complete break with British colonial power.
At that time, India was in dire straits. The country was divided and hundreds of thousands died in communal violence.
Economically it was one of the poorest in the world. India’s share of the world economy was only 3 percent in 1947. A fall of 27 percent in the 1700s when Britain colonized it. Its manufacturing was virtually non-existent – only 7 percent of GDP in 1947 and manufacturing exports were just 2 percent.
Hunger and hunger were the main news coming out of that country. This year, India is celebrating its 71st birthday at another momentous time in the world.
COVID-19 has been devastating to our world, killing more than a million and severely damaging the world economy. Millions are unemployed.
India, while also facing major problems caused by COVID, has not isolated itself as some countries in the world have done. Not just selfless thinking but helping the world overcome this terrible disease. It has already given more than a million vaccines to its neighbors and is fulfilling applications further afield, including the Caribbean.
India is doing this while the West is buying up and trying to hoard vaccines for their own population. Canada, for example, has brought in more than 5 times what its population needs. But India is more than a vaccine power.
In the last 71 years, India has become a major power in science and technology. One of the world’s leaders in ICT. It has sent probes to outer space at a cost lower than other countries doing the same.
It is a manufacturing power, producing high quality machinery and equipment. This country achieved this because of the quality of leadership, the enlightened leadership provided mainly by its first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, a gentle giant.
Nehru focused on building the human capital of India. He started building world-class educational institutions that have respected his country today.
More importantly, democracy sank deep into Indian society. His respect for democratic norms, for Parliament, the courts, is legendary. He was more than just an Indian leader. He was an intense internationalist.
On the world stage, the former colonies organized to defend their sovereignty against the powerful post-war politics. He organized with Kwame Nkruma from Ghana, Tito from Yugoslavia and Sukarno from Indonesia the Non-Aligned Movement which made an important contribution to international relations during the Cold War and helped protect the independence of post-colonial societies.
Jawaharlal Nehru was an ardent thinker, internationalist and philanthropist of enormous proportion.
On this Birthday, I salute the Great Soul!

Donald Ramotar
Former President

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