About Us India - Trinidad and Tobago Relations

Historical Perspective:  Relationship between India and Trinidad & Tobago goes back to 30 May 1845 when the first ship ‘Fatel Razack’ carrying 225 Indian indentured workers reached the shores of Trinidad, then a British colony. Their numbers increased with subsequent arrival of more ships from India. The descendents of those indentured workers, now in their fifth generation, form nearly 42% of the total population constituting an integral part of the economic, political and social fabric of the country. The presence of a substantial population of Indian origin (the largest ethnic group) has contributed immensely to close bilateral relations between the two countries.

2.Visit of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to Trinidad & Tobago: Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh led a high level delegation for CHOGM Summit in November 2009.

3.Visit of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to India in January 2012: Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (KPB) paid a State visit to India from 5-14 January 2012. PMKPB was accompanied by a high-level delegation comprising 7 Cabinet Ministers and a 160-member strong delegation from the private and public sectors besides representatives from tertiary institutions and PSUs. During the visit a number of agreements and MOUs were signed. She was also Chief Guest at PBD 2012 in Jaipur and was conferred with the PBSA.

4. PM Modi’s meeting with PM Rowley: Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi and Prime Minister of T&T Dr. Keith C. Rowley met in London on April 19, 2018 on the sidelines of the CHOGM Summit and discussed various areas in which cooperation between the two friendly countries could be enhanced further.

5.1st CARICOM and India Summit in New York: On September 25, 2019 the first ever summit between India and the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) took place in the United States. The summit took place on the side-lines of the 74th session of the United National General Assembly. As per reports, the India-CARICOM summit focused on several areas of priority which included funding for resilience against climate change, human resource development, strengthening technical capacity, health and education. The Government of India also announced that they will be providing a US$ 150 million Line of Credit to finance renewable energy and climate change related projects and a US$ 14 million grant for “quick impact” community development projects within CARICOM. Reports indicate that the meeting concluded with a decision to create a joint India/CARICOM task force that will develop and implement concrete plans to further advance trade and facilitate diversification in the region.

6.Other recent visitsDuring the last three years there have been several bilateral Ministerial/official level visits from India. Important among them are visit of Hon'ble General (Dr.) V.K. Singh, Minister of State for External Affairs (April 2017); Hon'ble Members of Parliament (Lok Sabha), Smt. Rama Devi and Shri Harish Dwivedi and Shri D.M. Mulay, Secretary (CPV & OIA) to participate in the Indian Diaspora World Convention 2017 held to commemorate 100 years of abolition of indentured labourers from India (March, 2017), Hon'ble Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Shri Ram Vilas Paswan for bilateral talks (October 2016); a 3-member delegation led by Shri R. Swaminathan, Special Secretary (AMS & CPV) for bilateral talks (June 2015); a 2-member delegation from delegation from AYUSH in the context of bilateral cooperation in the field of medicinal plants (April 2014); a 3-member senior official delegation led by Hon’ble Minister of Culture, Smt. Chandresh Kumari Katoch (October- November 2013); a high level 5-member senior official delegation led by Hon’ble Minister of State for Women and Child Development (Independent Charge), Mrs. Krishna Tirath visited Trinidad & Tobago (May-June 2013); Hon’ble Minister of State for Health & Family Planning (AYUSH), Shri S. Gandhiselvan (October 2012) in the context of bilateral cooperation in the area of traditional medicine.

7. During the coronavirus pandemic, Hon’ble External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar held tele-talks with his T&T counterpart Mr. Dennis Moses on April 29, 2020. The discussions focused on the prevailing situation of covid19 and the cordial relationship between both countries; holding early meeting of India-T&T Joint Commission; cooperation in Information Technology (IT) and Healthcare.

8. The Medical aid donated by the Government of India for the people and Government of Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, was handed over to the Government of T&T by Shri Arun Kumar Sahu, High Commissioner at a virtual ceremony organized on 23rd November, 2020. Dr. Amery Browne, Hon. Minister of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs received the medical aid on behalf of Government of T&T. Hon’ble Minister was accompanied by Ms. Reita Toussaint, Permanent Secretary (Ag.) and other officials of the Ministry.

9. Donation of Vaccine: Under the Vaccine Maitri programme, Government of India donated 40,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVISHIELD vaccine to the Government and for the people of Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. The medical supply was handed over by Shri Arun Kumar Sahu, High Commissioner on 13th April, 2021 which was received by Hon'ble Dr. Amery Browne, Minister of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs of Trinidad and Tobago in the presence of Health Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Hon’ble Terrence Deyalsingh, on behalf of Government of Trinidad and Tobago.

10. From the T&T side important visits include visit of a 4-member delegation led by Minister of the People and social Development Dr. Glenn Ramadharsingh (June 2013 as well as February 2014); a 3-member delegation participated at the 6th World Ayurveda Congress (Nov 2014); a 3-member delegation participated at the Global Research and Development Summit (Nov 2014); a 4-member delegation led by Mr. Winston Peter “Gypsy”, Minister for Community Development (January – February 2013) to attend the Surajkund Crafts Mela.

11. Parliamentary Exchanges: The Parliamentarians of India and Trinidad & Tobago have traditionally enjoyed close relations. A 6-member delegation led by Hon’ble Speaker of Lok Sabha, Smt. Meira Kumar visited T&T in January 2012 to attend the Commonwealth Speakers & Presiding Officers Conference (CSPOC). The T&T Parliamentarians returned the visit in March 2012 when a 7-Member Parliamentary delegation jointly led by President of the Senate, Timothy Hamel-Smith and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon'ble Wade Mark visited India. During the visit an Indo-T&T Parliamentary Friendship Association was formed whose Indian co-chair is Shri Ram Vilas Paswan, MP.

12. Important Bilateral Agreements and MoUs: Over the years the two countries have signed several agreements and MoUs laying down the foundation for bilateral cooperation in diverse areas. These include Cooperation in Science and Technology (1985); Cultural Cooperation Agreement (1987); Technical Cooperation (1997); Trade Agreement (1997); Development of Small Scale Industries in T&T (1997); Foreign Office Consultations (1997); Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (February 1999); MOU for Cooperation in Low Cost Housing (1999); Inter-Governmental Commission Agreement on Political, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation (2003); Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement [BIPPA] (2007); MoU and a Work-Plan in Agriculture Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) and the Ministry of Food Production, Land and Marine Affairs (2011); the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) (2012); Technical Cooperation Agreement (on Education) (2012); Programme of Cultural Exchanges (for the years 2012-2014) (2012); MoU on co-operation in the field of Traditional Medicine (2012); MoU between ICCR and the University of West Indies (UWI) for establishment of Chairs of Hindi & Indian Studies (2012); MoU between Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences and UWI on setting up a Chair of Ayurveda in the University of West Indies (2012); MoU between National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB) of India and the University of the West Indies (National Herbarium and Department of Life Sciences, T&T) on cooperation in the field of Medicinal Plants (April 2014); and MoU between the Foreign Service Institute, MEA and the Institute of International Relations, University of the West Indies on mutual cooperation (June 2015).

13. Joint Commission Meeting (JCM): The first meeting of the India-T&T Joint Commission Meeting was held in New Delhi in November 2011. The T&T delegation was led by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Communications Dr. Surujrattan Rambachan and the Indian side was led by EAM Shri S.M. Krishna. Areas of discussion included Science & Technology, air transport, agriculture, SMEs, education, healthcare, tech. co-operation, energy and trade. The next JCM is due to be held in Port of Spain.

14.Participation in PBD and PBSAs: Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Winsten Dookeran attended PBD 2017 in Bengaluru and was conferred with the PBSA. PM Kamla Persad Bissessar attended PBD 2012 in Jaipur as Chief Guest and was conferred with the PBSA. Senior Minister in the PM’s office Dr. Lenny Saith attended PBD 2010 in Delhi and received Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award [PBSA]. In 2008 PBD, National Council of Indian Culture (NCIC) was awarded PBSA. Prime Minister Basdeo Panday also attended the PBD as official delegate in 2005 (Mumbai) and 2008(Delhi). In 2005, he received the PBSA. In January 2006, Minister of Petroleum Dr. Lenny Saith attended official delegate the PBD celebrations in 2007 in Hyderabad as official delegate.

15.Promotion of Ayurveda and traditional Indian medicines: In order to promote and disseminate information on Ayurveda and traditional Indian medicines, an AYUSH Information Centre, sponsored by Department of AYUSH, was opened in the High Commission by Hon. Surujrattan Rambachan, Minister of Local Government. The Centre was dedicated to the people of Trinidad & Tobago by Hon’ble Minister of State for Health & Family Planning, Shri S. Gandhiselvan in October 2012.

16.Economic & Commercial Relations: The Trade Agreement signed between India and T&T in January 1997 accords Most Favored Nation (MFN) status to each other. During 2019-20 bilateral trade was US$ 169.53 million (India's exports to T&T were US$ 85.11 million and T&T's exports to India were US$ 84.42 million). Based on its economically influential role in the region and supported by regional and bilateral preferential trade agreements, T&T provides good opportunities to exporters from India to access the Caribbean region and beyond. There is potential for growth of bilateral trades in Information Technology and Information Technology Enabled Services, Pharmaceuticals, Agriculture and Agro-Biotechnology, New Energy (Wind & Solar), Tourism including Medical Tourism, Textiles and Garments, Higher Education, Automobiles, Ayurveda and Wellness and Films, Music and Entertainment.

17.Development Partnership with T&T:  Facilities under ITEC programme were extended to T&T in late 60s. Following the visit of PM KPB to India in January 2012, the GOI increased the number of annual training slots for T&T nationals. Presently we are providing 125 slots. We have also deputed experts in the fields of coconut and rice farming. Dr. G.J.N. Rao, Rice Production Expert, who joined the T&T Ministry of Food Production on 25 August 2014 on deputation for a period of one year, has since left after completing his term. In 2014-15, one student and three in 2012-13 were awarded ICCR scholarships. In 2015, 14 participants visited India under Know India Programme (KIP), 14 in 2016, 16 in 2017, and 31 in 2018. 28 till September 2019. 210 members of Diaspora have visited India under this Programme so far.

18.Culture: The Mission has been engaged in active cultural diplomacy through its Cultural Wing, Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Cultural Cooperation (MGICC), which was set up in January 1997 under a Bilateral Cultural Exchange Programme. MGICC is administered by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) under the overall control of the High Commission. The primary objective of MGICC is to promote and sustain Indian culture and to develop goodwill among the people of T&T and India. Regular classes are conducted by India-based and local teachers in Indian classical music and dance in several centres in Trinidad as well as Tobago. Presently the Institute has one India-based teacher in vocal music & a Tabla teacher. Two classical dance teachers in Kathak and Bharatnatyam and a local Yoga teacher would also soon resume dance and yoga classes. High Commission is also running Hindi classes in more than 10 different venues. The Institute has also been organizing a variety of cultural events like exhibitions, music and dance programmes, the monthly ‘Kala Sandhya’, lectures and workshops etc. MGICC also offers annual scholarships under ICCR’s General Cultural Scholarship Scheme.

19.Chairs: The Mission in collaborative relationship with the University of the West Indies would also set up three Chairs viz. (i) Hindi; (ii) Contemporary Indian Studies; and (iii) Ayurveda.

20.Promotion of Hindi: Hindi teaching activities have assumed important proportions as interest in Hindi has grown in the local population. The prominent presence of Hindi in the local media, both radio and television, has added to the interest and there is a marked growth in the desire among local population cutting across gender, age and ethnicity to acquire proficiency in Hindi. The Mission, in keeping up with this, organizes Hindi classes in various parts of the country. These have been going on over the last 20 years and have been systematized recently. The Mission has also been cooperating with various cultural bodies through grants and dissemination of Hindi reading materials and software. Hindi Samman (award) is given every year on Hindi Day/World Hindi Day. Besides, proficiency certificates are awarded to meritorious students who excel in various departments of Hindi learning. Besides, regular workshops are conducted by local Hindi teachers on the methodology and technique of language learning in consonance with Kendriya Hindi Sansthan, Agra. Books and teaching materials are also distributed to teachers and needy Hindi learning aspirants. Various local Hindi teaching institutions have collaborated with the Mission in promoting Hindi. At present 10 local Hindi teachers are imparting Hindi learning classes in different places in Trinidad.

21. Indian Community: The Non-Resident Indian Community in Trinidad and Tobago constitute about 600 families (1800 persons) who are engaged in business, teaching, medicine and other professions. The Mission is in close contact with the Indian Diaspora (about 42% of the total population of T&T) and has been actively promoting various schemes of the Government of India meant for them such as OCI scheme, Know India Programme (KIP), Tracing the Roots Programme, Scholarship Programme for Diaspora Children (SPDC) and Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award. The Mission Provides regular and prompt consular service to the Non-resident Indian community residing in T&T and other concurrently accredited countries.

22. Visa waiver for Indian nationalsThe Government of Trinidad and Tobago has waived visa requirement for Indian nationals visiting T&T for tourism and business purposes for a period of three months. The Government of India has approved e-Tourist Visa for T&T citizens.

June 2021