Guyana has a special place in India's heart - VP Shekhawat
Stabroek News
November 8, 2006

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Indian Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat (right) and Georgetown Mayor Hamilton Green (left) on the arrival of the Vice-President at the Promenade Gardens yesterday morning. (Ken Moore photo)

Floral tributes and a musical rendition greeted Indian Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat in the capital city yesterday.

Moments after being welcomed at the Promenade Gardens, Vice-President Shekhawat was presented with the symbolic key to the city by Mayor Hamilton Green.

In his welcoming remarks the mayor alluded to the similar challenges which both Guyana and India have overcome drawing them closer despite geographical distance.

During his visit here the Vice-President will interact with the political leadership and in this regard Mayor Green beseeched him to "persuade political leaders to make political consensus a priority. You have been a champion for political consensus and I hope you will crust in the minds of our people the importance of achieving such a goal," Green stated.

"I feel honoured by the warm welcome I have received and to receive the key to the city of Georgetown… Thanks for this wonderful gesture," Vice-President Shekhawat replied. He said despite the geographical distance which separated Guyana and India, "Guyana is specially placed in the heart of India. We share a strong link especially in fighting colonial rule and working in nation-building and sharing milestones." He added that there were many more milestones that India and Guyana will share.
Indian Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat (centre) at the Non Aligned Movement Monument, Company Path where he laid a floral tribute yesterday morning. Also in photo are Labour Minister Manzoor Nadir (second from right) and members of the Indian deleg

The Indian Vice-President was pleased to see the monument of Indian freedom fighter Mahatma Gandhi at the Promenade Gardens. "In doing so, you have recognized that Mahatma's message of humility, non-violence and innate faith in truth was for the humanity at large," he noted. Immediately after, the Vice- President affixed his signature to the national visitor's book.

He and other members of the political delegation then offered floral tributes at Gandhi's statue with flower petals being scattered at its base.

The cavalcade that conveyed the Indian Vice-President grabbed the attention of everyone on the street yesterday morning and some persons followed to get a glimpse of the Vice-President.

On arrival at the monument of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), Vice-President Shekhawat was greeted by a 14-rank strong Ceremonial Parade, rolling drums and a Presidential Salute by Guyana Defence Force officers. This monument bears busts of the four leading lights of NAM: Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia.

Streams of vehicles lined High Street and Avenue of the Republic as persons waited patiently to get a glimpse of the parade and the Indian officials.

Vice-President Shekhawat did not hesitate to seek clarifications on his next stop as he was treated to a guided tour of the National Museum.

On his arrival there, scores of employees of the Guyana Post Office Corporation lined the gallery of the building as they too stole a glimpse of the Vice President.

Accumulated artefacts from India, replicas of Guyana's history particularly from the pre-colonial era and sculptures of pork knockers and miners grabbed the Vice President's attention.

Leaving the National Museum, Shekhawat visited the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre. "We in India greatly admire him for the sacrifices made by him for the independence of Guyana and his tremendous contribution towards socio-economic development of the Guyanese people," he said, addressing the small gathering. Shekhawat said he fondly remembered Jagan's two visits to India, the land of his ancestors in 1953 and 1993, which contributed immensely to the cementing of ties between Guyana and India.

The Indian Vice-President and the other members of the delegation depart Guyana tomorrow for an official visit to Trinidad and Tobago, where they will remain until Saturday.