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India-T&T: Breaking Ground and Building Anew

-Malay Mishra

High Commissioner of India to Trinidad & Tobago


In a few weeks from now India would complete 61 years of being a Republic.  A young nation, bearing the weight of the oldest continuing civilization on earth, has to grapple with onerous challenges in her march ahead. The fastest growth trajectory could be the silver lining, yet a quarter of the population need to be lifted from the morass of poverty into mainstream development.  The leitmotif of India’s democratic governance being inclusive growth and sustainable development, internal challenges of food, energy and environmental security, the scourge of terrorism within and across the borders, the threshold of nuclear terrorism and a jingoistic periphery, vulnerable and weak neighbours reluctant to be integrated into the South Asian economy, a vast sea lane increasingly militarized to safeguard, are mind boggling.


Yet the year has augured well for us. All the P-5 leaders, starting from David Cameron of UK and going on to Barack Obama of USA, Nicolas Sarkozy of France, Wen Jiabao of China and Medvedev of Russia, have come visiting our shores in quick succession, each accompanied by huge business delegations with the dream of engaging India.  By the end of the year  some US$ 60 billion deals may have been signed along with a host of agreements in a wide range of areas.


India has certainly arrived on the global stage.  Its economic strength, power of the market and above all commitment to democracy have been recognized as global strengths.  Two decades of free market democracy since the unshackling of the economy, which coincided with the dismantling of the East-West divide and end of the Cold War era, India is looked upon as an exemplar for research and innovation, technology and knowledge and sharing of expertise with the developing world in the spirit of partnership.  India’s leadership in fostering a multilateral open-trade system, ensuring free flow of capital and investment and rebuilding the capabilities of the international financial system ravaged by the global recession have given her the credibility and confidence to move ahead in a highly globalised inter-dependent environment. Knowledge being the currency of the present century, she can stand out with her emerging knowledge assets and contribute significantly to global progress and harmony with her burgeoning skilled human resource and an expanding middle class while projecting her soft power, cinema, culture, cuisine, yoga, ayurveda and diaspora in full measure.


Talking of the diaspora, T&T, home to the largest Indian diaspora in the Caribbean, and the homeland have developed affinities laced over decades of trials and tribulations, commitment and dedication, culture and history.  Today both countries have come a long way in their respective development paths and are ready to move hand in hand for the progress and prosperity of their peoples.


2010 has showed the way. Exciting as it was, the most formidable and perhaps  the single most important event of the year which denoted a complete paradigm shift was 24 May which brought in a different government along with a different mindset, dedication and willingness to engage the people in the development of the country.  The historic win of the UNC-led People’s Partnership coalition led by the first ever woman Prime Minister of the diaspora was indeed the most important accomplishment and proof of political empowerment of the Indian diaspora anywhere in the world.  The country, forcefully representing the diaspora in a unique plural setting this side of the Atlantic, and the source from where their forefathers had emanated, the country making waves in the global context, have joined in a new symphony unleashing peoples’ aspirations in the march of democracy.  The  unison could not have been more timely.


The year started with the visit of a Micro, Small, Medium Enterprise (MSME) delegation with a view to exploring possibility of setting up business incubators appropriate for the T&T economy.  The delegation left with determination enshrined in a Joint Communiqué. The PP Government took up the baton in full vigour and a second delegation is in the offing. The Queen’s Baton of the Commonwealth Games passed through Commonwealth countries of the Caribbean and its relay through the length and breadth of T&T in February was spectacular.  A 130-member contingent representing T&T descended on New Delhi in October and won laurels for the country in the most glittering and eventful happening ever in Commonwealth history.


The Mission organized several business and trade activities to promote trade and investment between the two countries, a Seminar in March, a Multi-product Trade Expo in May-June followed by a few important energy delegations both from the private sector as well as government to prospect possibilities of investment and technology transfer.


The cultural volet was given full throttle.  Thus we had a spectacular Indian troupe visiting the shores of the twin island Republic for Holi, or Phagwa as it is called in local parlance. World famous Dhrupad singers, the Gundecha Brothers, and a 10-member  Rajasthani Folk Dance and Music group came together to take part in Indian Arrival Day celebrations, a glorious moment when for the first time in this country’s history Dhrupad, the most ancient classical Indian  music form was invited on the stage of Diwali Nagar along with an accomplished folk tradition.  Eminent violinist Kala Ramnath visited a few months later on the occasion of India’s Independence Day and showcased her métier in classical Indian violin of the Hindustani genre  at Queen’s Hall and other places.  For the first time in a long while, an eminent Qawwali group led by Sahadat Hussain Khan visited T&T at the invitation of ASJA and performed to raptures all over the island on the occasion of Eid. Soon followed a 12-member dance troupe from Gujarat mesmerizing audiences with their unique acrobatics and folk movements.  The year ended with the first ever Festival of Indian Cinema organized to commemorate the 75th anniversary of arrival of Indian cinema in T&T, and appropriately an Exhibition to depict the evolution of Indian Cinema over a hundred years. The event drew an overwhelming response from the cinema loving audience wishing to make the festival an annual event.


Academics did not hold back.  An International Conference-cum-Exhibition on the traditional Indian medicinal system ‘Ayurveda’ was held for the first time in UWI, back-to-back followed by an International  Vedic Conference organized by WAVES at the same venue. On the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi’s  141st birth anniversary, Gandhian scholar R.P. Jain delivered a series of lectures on the life and message of the Mahatma and a unique inter-faith prayer session for peace and non-violence was held at Gandhi Park in the heart of Port of Spain in commemoration of the International Day of Non-Violence.  The Diplomatic Dialogue Series initiated by UWI, provided the perfect setting for us to speak on India’s foreign policy to a distinguished gathering as the beginning of a debate on global politics.


All this and more were  crucibles along the way. And thus the year has passed into history, denoting India’s sincerity of purpose and respect for small States of the developing world based on her confidence and ability to share experience and expertise through scores of projects, programmes, scholarships, grants and the like. India looks up to the world in her vision to augment the needs of developing societies and work for the cause of a safe, peaceful and prosperous world.  In this, the Universe is a nest echoing the age-old philosophy of our sages and we stand together as brethren to share the bounties of development.









The High Commission of India and the Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Cultural Cooperation, in collaboration with the Inter-Religious Organization (IRO), organized a series of activities to pay tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on the occasion of his 141st Birth Anniversary and the Observance of the International Day of Non-Violence on 2 October.

Friday/1 October: For the Annual Gandhi Memorial Lecture organized in collaboration with the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences of the University of the West Indies, a renowned visiting Gandhian scholar from India sponsored by ICCR, Shri R.P Jain, delivered the feature address at a function held at the Learning Resource Centre, University of the West Indies St Augustine. Shri Jain spoke on “Gandhi’s Legacy of Ahimsa & Compassion" which was followed by a short question-answer session with the audience. The event was attended by distinguished guests, academicians, scholars along with officers and staff members of the High Commission, MGICC, students and faculty members of the University.



Saturday/2 October (Morning): A floral tribute was offered at the statue of Mahatma Gandhi at Gandhi Square, Kew Place at Port of Spain. Dignitaries and distinguished guests including Hon. Ag. President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago Hon. Timothy Hamel Smith, Speaker of the House of Representatives Hon. Wade Mark, Mr. Louis Lee Sing Mayor of Port of Spain, Caricum Cultural Ambassador, Mr. Makandal Daga, President and Representatives of all religious heads of the Inter-Religious Organization, High Commissioner and Mrs. Mishra, officers and staff members of the High Commission of India and MGICC gathered on the occasion, held for the first time with an inter-faith prayer meeting. HC in his welcome address suggested naming Kew Place as Peace Square which was immediately accepted by the Mayor. HC also proposed to declare 2 October as a National Holiday to observe this day as of reflection and contemplation in line with the day being declared as the International Day of Non-Violence. Acting President and the Mayor brought their greetings. Director, MGICC proposed a vote of thanks while teachers and students of MGICC sang devotional songs dear to Gandhiji on the occasion.


Saturday/2 October (Evening): In the evening floral tribute was paid to Gandhiji by garlanding his statue on Harris Promenade at San Fernando by dignitaries including the Hon. Minister of Energy and Energy Affairs, Ms. Seepersad Bachan, Ag. President of the Senate, Ms. Lyndira Oudit, Mayor of San Fernando, Ms. Marlene Coudray, High Commissioner and President of the Gandhi Sewa Sangh, Mr. Ramjas Ramlakhan. High Commissioner briefly spoke about the significance of the occasion and threw light on the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. Minister of Energy and Mayor of San Fernando also spoke on the occasion.



Invitees then proceeded to the Raja Yoga Centre at San Fernando, where Brother Harry Persad Maharaj, Secretary of the IRO had organized the second lecture of Shri R.P Jain on theme of “Spiritual Journey of Mahatma Gandhi”








The annual ITEC Day and Hindi Day were celebrated by the High Commission of India at India House on 15 September ’10. Dy Permanent Secretary, Mr. Richard Madray, Ministry of Public Administration and Ms. Bebe Abhoja, Director, Ministry of Education represented Government of Trinidad and Tobago. Prof. H.S. Adesh, President, Bharatiya Vidya Sansthaan, was the Guest of Honour on the occasion. The event was attended by heads and representatives of various socio-cultural organizations.  As per tradition, ITEC and Hindi scholars of Trinidad & Tobago were invited to attend the celebration, besides members of the recently formed India Alumni Association also participated in the programme.

High Commissioner read out the Hindi Day message of the Indian Home Minister on this occasion. The Hindi Seva Samman (Award for promotion of Hindi in T&T) 2010 was conferred on Ms. Yashodra Singh, Hindi Teacher in Holy Faith Convent for her exemplary service in popularization of Hindi in Trinidad and Tobago.

High Commissioner also gifted Hindi Dictionaries, Books and CDs  to various organizations working for the cause of Hindi, such as, Hindu Prachar Kendra, Hindi Nidhi Foundation, Arya Pratinidhi Sabha, NCIC, GOPIO, Gandhi Seva Sangh, Bharatiya Vidya Sansthan, Trinidad Sevashram Sangh, SWAHA. Hindi students recited Hindi poetry, bhajan and  speeches.

The High Commission has been engaged in promoting Hindi in Trinidad & Tobago since almost two decades. Hindi classes under Hindi Teaching Programme are being held at Port of Spain, Caroni, Chaguanas, Sangre Grande, Debe and San Fernando with over 16  weekly classes  throughout the country and the Mission is planning to expand the programme with opening new centres and inviting new teachers, streamlining teaching procedures, introducing computer-based education and making  Hindi teaching relevant to the needs of the population who have lost direct contact with Hindi as a conversational language.  The Mission is also encouraging introduction of Hindi as an optional foreign language in Government schools and has designed a continuous and graded course linking this with the extant Hindi Chair in UWI.  Mrs. Sunita Pahuja, Hindi Officer in the High Commission can be contacted for all further information reg. Hindi programme of the Mission.

High Commissioner in his address also talked about the philosophy behind the ITEC programme and the launch of the programme in the year 1964 as a programme to share India's development experience with developing countries of Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean Pacific and Oceania. High Commissioner talked of India's advancement as a strong democracy, a fast-growing economy, excellence in technology and education and India's readiness to offer its expertise in different fields to 158 countries in the world in the form of well-devised short and long duration courses under the ITEC programme.

Second Secretary M.P. Bhardwaj briefed the audience about various ITEC courses in the fields of management, administration, public finance, SMEs, standardization, renewable energy, IT etc. He also talked about some of the prominent institutions offering courses in India and advised the gathering on the terms and conditions governing ITEC courses.

ITEC scholar, Ms Rhona Mandool, a Systems Analyst at the T&T Ministry of Health who attended an ITEC course on GIS and Remote Sensing at the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, spoke about her experience and stated that she found the course very useful and recounted her valued experiences in India. A Bharatnatyam dance item was presented by Ms. Reshma Ria Soodeen, a former ICCR scholar, to lend colour to the occasion.








During the month of September regular classes were conducted in Bharatanatyam Dance, Hindustani Vocal Music, Tabla and Yoga at the Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Cultural Co-operation (MGICC).

11th September, 2010: Antar-Rastriya Sanskriti Pratishthaan Inc.Annual Concert 2010 entitled “Sangeet Dhaaraa”

The Antar-Rashtriya Sanskriti Pratishthaan Inc. (International Foundation for Cultural Relations of Trinidad & Tobago held their Annual Concert 2010 entitled “ Sangeet Dhaaraa” at the Naparima Bowl Concert Hall at 5.30 p.m.

The concert consisted of Indian classical music, vocal, instrumental and dance recitals. Dr. M.P. Sharma, Tabla Teacher, gave an outstanding solo tabla recital for which he received a standing ovation. At the event he also played tabla accompaniment with Ms. Sangeeta Jagdeo, renowned classical vocalist, an alumni of ICCR and President of the above organization. High Commissioner, Mr. Malay Mishra accompanied by Mrs. Mishra graced the occasion as the chief guest. The well attended event was covered by the media.

15th September, 2010: Hindi & ITEC Day 2010

Hindi & ITEC Day celebrations were organized by the High Commission of India at India House in Port Spain, where Ms. Jasodra Singh, one of the Hindi teachers was conferred with Hindi Samman Award by High Commissioner and token gifts/presents were given to others in recognition of their services rendered for propagation of Hindi language in Trinidad & Tobago. On this important occasion students of the MGICC accompanied by Dr. M.P. Sharma, Tabla Teacher-cum-Performer gave a brief performance with Saraswati Vandana, which was well appreciated by the guests.


23rd September, 2010: Pt. Rampersad Parshuram

Felicitation Ceremony

Dr. M.P. Sharma, Tabla Teacher-cum-Performer and Mr. Ram Narayan Jha, Hindustani Vocal Teache-cum-performer, performed along with local classical singers at a function organized by Trinidad & Tobago of Chamber of Industry and Commerce at Couva.

The well attended event was graced by the presence Hon. Chandresh Sharma, Minister of Local Government as Chief Guest.











During the month of August regular classes were conducted in Bharatanatyam Dance, Hindustani Vocal Music Tabla and Yoga at the Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Cultural Co-operation (MGICC).

3rd August 2010:

Workshop & Exhibition on Ayurveda/Vedic Conference.


reception/dinner was hosted by High Commissioner at India House for the visiting experts on Ayurveda and vedic scholars who came to participate in the Workshop & Exhibition on Ayurveda on 3 August and International Vedic Conference from 4-7 August,  jointly organized by the High Commission of India and Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Cultural Cooperation in collaboration with the Department of AYUSH, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Department of Ayurveda,Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Saddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH), World Association for Vedic Studies and The University of the West Indies at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Amphitheatre A .

MGICC’s Vocal Teacher Mr. Ram Narayan Jha, Hindustani Vocal Teacher accompanied by Tabla Teacher Dr. M.P. Sharma and their students gave a wonderful vocal recital in the presence of many dignitaries and distinguished guests, including the Hon. Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. Suruj Rambachan.

7th August ,2010:  India 63rd

Independence Day Celebrations

To celebrate the 63rd Independence Day of India, a series of concerts of renowned artiste Ms. Kala Ramnath, popularly known as the Singing Violin, was organized in collaboration with Bank of Baroda, Oriental Supreme Ltd. and Patrons of Queen’s Hall at the Queen’s Hall auditorium, Port of Spain at 6.30 pm. Dr. M.P. Sharma, Tabla Teacher-cum-Performer demonstrated his excellent talent as tabla accompaniment with Ms. Ramnath.  The outstanding performance was attended by many dignitaries and distinguished guests including, the Hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Suruj Rambachan.




11th August, 2010: Kala Ramnath Concert at Dattatreya Yoga Centre

Ms. Kala Ramnath accompanied by Dr. M.P. Sharma, Tabla Teacher, gave a short performance at the Dattatreya Yoga Centre in Carapichaima for the devotees of the Temple, which was also attended by H.E., the High Commissioner of India, Mr. Malay Mishra and Mrs. Mishra.



13th August, 2010: Kala Ramnath Concert at

Centre of Excellence

Another spectacular concert of Ms. Kala Ramnath accompanied by MGICC Tabla Teacher, Dr. M.P. Sharma, was held at 6.30 pm on 13 August at the Centre of Excellence, Macoya which was attended by many dignitaries including the Finance Minister/Acting Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago, Mr. Winston Dookeran and Mrs. Dookeran, High Commissioner, Mr. Malay Mishra and Mrs. Mishra / Officers and Staff members, Managing Director of Bank of Baroda Mr. Yesh Pal Chhabra apart from many music lovers.





15th August, 2010:  Independence Day celebrations

On the occasion of the 63rd Independence Day of India, a huge reception was organized by High Commissioner at India House, where teachers and students of the Mahatma Gandhi Institute recited patriotic songs followed by an excellent violin recital by Ms. Kala Ramnath with a fusion piece with a local steel orchestra, which was very well liked and appreciated by one and all.

The large event was well attended by dignitaries, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Senators, Mayors, Aldermen, Councillors, Members of the Corporation,   Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Heads of Socio - Cultural Organizations apart from others.



27th August, 2010Kala Sandhya

The monthly cultural programme of the Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Cultural Co-operation was organized in collaboration with the National Council for Indian Culture (NCIC), at Divali Nagar, Chaguanas where Mr. Ram Narayan Jha, Vocal Teacher-cum-performer and Dr. M.P. Sharma Tabla teacher cum-performer gave an excellent performance.  The event was applauded and appreciated by the art lovers and covered by the Media.





Independence Day

High Commission of India celebrated the 63rd Anniversary of India’s Independence with great enthusiasm. The function was attended by Indian nationals living in Trinidad in addition to staff and their family members of the High Commission and Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Cultural Cooperation. The celebration began with the Flag hoisting by High Commissioner Mr. Malay Mishra followed by signing of National Anthem by all those who were present to celebrate this auspicious day. High Commissioner, then read out the President of India’s message to the nation which was followed by recitation of patriotic songs by the teachers and students of MGICC.

Later in the evening a reception was hosted by the High Commissioner at India House to mark the occasion. Hon’ble Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Surujrattan Rambachan graced the occasion as Chief Guest. In addition, other Cabinet Ministers, representatives of Diplomatic Corps and other distinguished guests were also present. The evening function began with National Anthem of both India and T&T followed by the address by the High Commissioner who welcomed and thanked the guests for being part of the important event. Hon’ble Surujrattan Rambachan brought greetings from the Government of T&T and assured of continued bilateral cooperation between our two nations, and commitment of his government for further strengthening the ties.

The highlight of the event was performance given by Ms. Kala Ramnath, the renowned violinist of international acclaim in a unique jugalbandi with a local steel pan artiste.







The Renowned Violinist Ms. Kala Ramnath Performance during Independence Month


The Renowned Violinist Ms. Kala Ramnath whose visit was organsied by the High Commission and Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Cultural Cooperation in collaboration with Patrons’ of Queen’s Hall gave spell binding performances at different venues in Trinidad as indicated below. Various Cabinet Ministers, high ranking government officials and other dignitaries were mesmerized by the performance given by Ms. Ramnath.


07.08.10    -    Queen’s Hall, St. Ann’s
6:30 pm

13.08.10    -    Centre of Excellence, Macoya
6:30 pm

15.08.10    -    Performance on the occasion of Independence Day  
7:00 pm         Celebrations at India House


08.08.10    -    Diwali Nagar, Chaguanas
10:30 to Noon

09.08.10    -    Bharatiya Vidya Sansthaan, Aranguez
5:00 pm

11.08.10    -    Lecture / Demonstration at Dattatreya Yoga Temple





International Conference-cum-Exhibition on Ayurveda


The High Commission of India and the Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Cultural Cooperation (MGICC) in collaboration with University of the West Indies (UWI) organized an International Conference and Exhibition on Ayurveda on Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010 at Amphitheatre ‘A’, Faculty of Medical Sciences, UWI.

Prof. Samuel Ramsewak, Dean, Faculty of Medical Sciences welcomed the august gathering for supporting the cause and holistic approach of Ayurveda.  Acting Principal, Prof. Dyer Narainesingh offered the full support of UWI in promoting Ayurveda by introducing it in the medical sciences.  High Commissioner read the message of Secretary, Department of Ayush, Smt. S. Jalaja, informed that AYUSH had agreed to give 4 scholarships for nationals of Trinidad and Tobago to study Ayurveda in India as well as provide the services of an expert to teach Ayurveda on a long-term basis in Trinidad and Tobago in collaboration with the University of West Indies.  HC also stated about the potential of cultivation of medicinal plants in Trinidad and Tobago as it has several varieties of medicinal plants which could be developed to attract tourism, thereby generating revenue for the development of Trinidad and Tobago with possibilities of joint venture for manufacture and export of Ayurvedic products as well as setting up of Ayurvedic Wellness Centres and Therapy Centres.

The Conference-cum-Exhibition was inaugurated by Hon’ble Minister of Science, Technology and Tertiary Education Mr. Fazal Karim who in his address offered his full support in introducing, promoting and propagating Ayurveda in Trinidad and Tobago at all levels, so that more and more people of this country could take benefit of the holistic approach to healing and benefit out of an alternative medicinal system.

The first session of the Conference was chaired by Prof. (Mrs.) L.M.Pinto Pereira, Professor, Pharmacology.   The event was attended by a large number  experts including, Dr. Manoj Nesari, Joint Adviser (Ay) Department of AYUSH, Dr M. M. Padhi, Deputy Director (Tech), Central Council for Research in Ayurveda and Siddha, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India, Dr Yogesh Kurup, Dr. Harry Ramnarine,- Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. David Frawley from US, Dr. Jenne Isaac from Grenada and Mr. Anthony Toulon from Dominica. Dr. Manoj Nesari, presented a power-point presentation on “Strengths of Ayurveda to Combat Global Health Problems and AYUSH Initiatives for Promotion of Ayurveda”.  In his presentation he gave an elaborate outline of Ayurveda, its strengths and specialties in treating various elements, the unique features of Ayurveda, its scientific evidence, the strong infrastructure for education and practice of Ayurveda available under Department of AYUSH in India, the various steps taken by department of AYUSH for standardizing the system in the country and promoting Ayurveda abroad under the scheme of International Cooperation and spoke for future collaboration and cooperation with Trinidad & Tobago and other Caribbean islands.

Dr. M M Padhi gave a power-point presentation on “Research and development in Ayurveda”. He described about the works being executed by the research council in establishing standards of Ayuvedic medicinal plants and Ayurvedic formulations, generating evidence to reestablish the scientific aspects of Ayurveda, the animal experimentation and clinical trials conducted as per the International GCP (Good Clinical Practices) guidelines. He further proposed possible areas of cooperation with Trinidad & Tobago in the field of research in herbal and traditional medicine.

Dr. David Frawley, a renowned scholar on Vedic Sciences expressed his valuable thoughts and views on the “Role of Ayurveda in Indian Civilisation”.  Dr Anthony Toulon from Dominica and Dr. Jenny Isaac from Grenada also shared their views on the significant role Ayurveda could play for the well-being of mankind. Dr. Shelly, representing the Maharishi Ayurveda delivered a talk about wellness tourism and setting up of a Maharishi Vedic Complex consisting of spa, clinic, yoga, plantation of medicinal herbs etc.

Dr. Yogesh Kurup, gave a lecture on benefit of Panchakarma (Bio-Cleansing) procedures including massage and holistic approach of Ayurveda.  Kurup runs the local Nalanda Ayurvedic Centre for therapy and massage. Dr. Harry Ramnarine provided his feedback on the topic “Ayurveda- the Trinidad experience”. Dr. E.M Davis, Professor, UWI chaired the second session of the Conference.



WAVES 2010


World Association for Vedic Studies (WAVES), a multidisciplinary academic society held its Eighth International Conference on Vedic Knowledge for Civilisational Harmony in Trinidad, for the first time out of US, from August 4-7 at the University of West Indies, St Augustine Campus in collaboration with Center for Indic Studies, University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth and Saraswati Mandiram, Trinidad. The conference consisted of three tracks: Track 'A'- Vedic Knowledge for Civilisational Harmony, Track 'B'- Understanding Vedic Practices and Track 'C'- Owning the Discourse.

The theme of the Conference, “Vedic Knowledge for Civilisational Harmony” is based on the belief that harmony is possible by developing deep insights into Vedic literature and practices. This Conference was one step in that direction in formulating a discourse that empowers one and all and does not compromise on truth. Academic scholars, practicing pundits, engaged Hindus and youth leaders took part in the conference which was inaugurated by High Commissioner Malay Mishra on 04 August. Welcoming the speakers, delegates and the audience, he stated it was a great pleasure for him to note that the imprint of Vedic learning and scholarship was now spreading in the Americas and had found a fitting anchor on the soil of Trinidad & Tobago which had the largest diasporic presence in the region. Vedas, the repository of ancient knowledge and science, are the most significant contribution to humanity. The WAVES Conference with its emphasis on the theme 'Civilisational Harmony', assessing the contemporary meaning of religion and spirituality and relevance for the younger generation to understand the gamut of knowledge as enshrined in the Vedas, was indeed timely and relevant.

Some of the prominent speakers included Dr. David Frawley, Dr. Subhash Kak, Dr. Balram Singh, Ambassador C.M. Bhandari and Mr. Rajiv Malhotra. In his presentation, Dr. David Frawley mentioned that Hinduism in its true nature represented Sanatan Dharma or an eternal and universal tradition of truth and natural law. It was a religion, science, art, culture and way of life, and yet more than all of these. While it had best been preserved in India, it was a global tradition that had influenced other religions all over the world. It was important to articulate this ancient tradition in a new vision of the eternal distinct principles. Explaining ‘Vedic Seers: What they saw’ he added that the Vedic Rishis gained their knowledge through the direct perception of the silent mind, which brought them into contact with the cosmic intelligence that operates through all of space and time. This allowed them to understand the structure and nature of the universe as a single consciousness and interwoven organic reality. The Rishis placed their insights into their cryptic mantras which convey the secrets of how the universe operates both at an external and an internal level, from the physical realm to that of pure consciousness.

Dr. Bal Ram Singh, deliberating on Vedic Tradition of Prajatantra, stated that as the world had been integrating itself through globalisation, first politically, then economically, and now terroristically, it was becoming imperative that not only bad but the good also be considered globally for the benefit of the global society. One of the major ideas being advanced in the world for the past hundred years more or has been the concept of democracy- the symbol of freedom and independence, the fountain head of capitalism, and war cry against terrorism. 

Dr. Subhash Kak explained that tantra and ritual were much misunderstood, many self-styled gurus had taken Tantra to mean the way to obtaining ananda, or sensuous pleasure, while ananda of the Upanishads was pure bliss that transcended time and provided extraordinary insight into reality. Tantra views the outer and the inner cosmos as embodiment of divinity. The body and the mind in themselves then are the frontier which can show the path to knowledge. Tantra is a yogic journey turned inwards that makes one free.    
Ambassador Bhandari presented his discourse on 'Chitta as the Divine Mirror’ by explaining that all of us are familiar with the word 'Mind', but very few understand the nature of its working. We also know that lot depends on our state of mind but majority would not know ways of triggering or inspiring the same. Mind is a two way communicator; it connects externally with the senses to receive inputs and forwards them to the intellect and then it also connects internally with the intellect to receive instructions and convey the same to the senses which gives rise to all thought process flashing in our mind. 

Mr. Rajiv Malhotra gave the same discourse at the High Commission during the course of an informal chat, which he gave at the Conference. This revolved around foreign interference, especially that of western countries, in Indian society through different channels. One such channel is the Education sector where promising and brilliant students are picked up and offered scholarships as well as assistance in securing admission in prestigious institutions thereby exposing them to a different culture and atmosphere. Later on these scholars are used for exposing the negative aspects and practices prevalent in Indian society. The next is the Indian Media. Personnel from print and electronic media are sponsored for short and long term visits to these countries to showcase overall developments and functioning of various systems exposing shortcomings in Indian system. And finally through NGOs who under the garb of different schemes like Empowerment of Woman, Rural Society and Youths highlighting anomalies prevalent in the society. This is aimed at creating wedge between different sections of Indian society.     He suggested that in order to counter such moves there was need to create groups of intellectuals and researchers who could expose the greater design of these forces which were aimed at disturbing the harmony in Indian society, while conducting studies on these societies to challenge them on intellectual and social discourses. 

In the honour of the visiting scholars of Ayurveda and WAVES conferences, High Commissioner organised a reception at India House on 3 August which was attended by Sir Ellis Clarke, former President of T&T, Education Minister Tim Gopeesingh and several other distinguished guests including senior govt. officials.




Indian Arrival Day 30th of May 2010