• Your Excellency Ram Nath Kovind President of the Republic of India
  • Your Excellency Mrs Savita Kovind First Lady
  • The Most Honourable Andrew Holness Prime Minister, and the Most Honourable Mrs Holness
  • Mr Mark Golding Leader of the Opposition & Mrs Golding
  • Members of the Cabinet and Senators
  • Members of the Judiciary and the Legislature
  • Your Excellencies of the Diplomatic Corps
  • Members of the Indian Delegation
  • Ladies and Gentlemen

Good evening.

Lady Allen and I welcome you to this historic State Dinner, in honour of the President of the Republic of India, Ram Nath Kovind and First Lady Savita Kovind.  This is the first visit of any Indian Head of State to Jamaica and is greeted with deep appreciation.  The Jamaica-India cooperation remains dynamic, vibrant and strong.  We must continue to nurture this partnership, given the tremendous benefits derived by our people.

Mr President, your visit, coincides with the celebrations of the 75th Independence of India, as well as the 60th Anniversary of Jamaica’s Independence.  This is a striking reminder of the sacrifices, challenges and opportunities that we have endured in our journey to ensure, in the words of the Father of India, MO-han-das GAN-dhi [Mohandas Gandhi], that we need not wait to see what others do as “In a gentle way, you can shake the world”.

We are extremely pleased with India’s unswerving commitment to Jamaica’s development. This was displayed with the formal establishment of Diplomatic Relations on the 12th of August 1962, just six days after we gained Independence. We are grateful for the shared vision that motivated this level of confidence in our ability to chart our own future, and for the willingness with which the Republic of India has embraced and supported Jamaica.

Mr. President,            

The deep affection that we share predates the formal establishment of Diplomatic Relations. It is grounded in the visible and palpable influence of the Indian culture across the island since the arrival of the first Indian in Old Harbour, St. Catherine, in 1845. Since then, our partnership has been underpinned by a strong people-to-people component, that is indelibly and intimately woven into the fabric of Jamaican society.

The contribution of the Indian Diaspora to Jamaica is equally immeasurable and invaluable. They have given selflessly to every facet of our development and have been unrelenting in their efforts to ensure our advancement as a nation and as a people.  We are grateful for this support and are humbled by the readiness with which persons of Indian descent have made Jamaica their home.

This solidarity with Jamaica was magnified during the COVID-19 pandemic when we received the first donation of vaccines.  Jamaica will always remember, with appreciation, the generosity of Prime Minister Nuh-rein-druh Moh-dee [Narendra Modi]and the people of India, during these difficult times for all of us. We, therefore, stand with you as together we work to recover from this pandemic.


Mr. President,

            As we look to our common future, especially during these challenging times, we are assured that a friendship based on our shared values and mutual interests will continue to unite us.


In this, I am reminded of the words of a former Jamaican Prime Minister, the Most Honourable Hugh Lawson Shearer when he delivered Jamaica’s first policy statement to the United Nations in 1962.  He said, and I quote “Our way of life shows to the rest of the world that it is possible for men of different religious beliefs, different colours and different racial origins to live together in peace and harmony…”. End quote.

As you celebrate your 75th year of Independence and we mark our Diamond Jubilee, please accept our congratulations and fraternal best wishes for the continued growth, development and prosperity of the Republic of India.

I look forward to a renewed and revitalised Jamaica-India relationship and to our shared task of a deeper and more fruitful collaboration for the benefit of our peoples and, indeed, for the global community.

I thank you.