Heralding a new era in its traditional ties with Guyana, India signed four agreements with the Caribbean nation on Wednesday to qualitatively upgrade the 'constructive cooperation' between the two sides.
The agreements, signed in the presence of visiting Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and President Bharrat Jagdeo aim at boosting cultural exchanges between the two sides, promoting diplomatic facilities and academic exchanges and extension of line of credit.
Shekhawat also held a one-on-one meeting with Jagdeo before signing of the agreements and later observed that 'constructive cooperation' between the two countries would be to mutual advantage.
The agreement on Promotion of Cultural Exchanges between the two countries for 2007, 2008 and 2009 will allow sharing of resource personnel and information.
On the diplomatic front, the two sides signed an accord that provides for gainful occupation for family members of a diplomatic mission or consular post.
The arrangement provides for family members, particularly spouses of diplomatic, consular, administrative and technical staff of the diplomatic mission of Guyana and India to seek employment.
In an effort to boost cultural exchanges, a Memorandum of Understanding was inked for establishing the Rabindranath Tagore Resource Centre in the campus of Guyana University.
As part of the MoU, India will provide 700 books and 100 DVDs on various subjects, along with computers, printers and scanners.
A line of credit was also agreed upon by India for the procurement and installation of traffic lights for Guyana
capital. This will be provided by the EXIM Bank of India.
India has already provided a concessional line of credit of $19 million along with a grant of $6 million for construction of the Providence cricket stadium, a world class facility with 15,000 seats; it be used for the Cricket World Cup in March-April 2007.
Shekhawat is scheduled to hold talks with Prime Minister Samuel Hinds and Leader of the Opposition Robert Corbin during his visit to strengthen bilateral relations and cooperation.
Guyana has publicly declared its support in theUN for India's candidature for permanent membership of UN Security Council.
The close relations between India and Guyana received a boost with two successive visits to India by President Jagdeo in August 2003 and in January 2004.
The Vice President, in whose honour a banquet was hosted by the President, congratulated Jagdeo on his re-election and said his visits to New Delhi in 2003 and 2004 had further strengthened the relation between the two countries.
Shekhawat said that the friendly ties had stood the test of time regardless of geographical distance. "Both Guyana and India share cultural diversity and commitment to democracy," he said, and asserted that the Indian government remained committed to continue its contribution to the socio-economic development of the people of Guyana.
The Vice President, who began his day by offering floral tributes at the statue of Mahatma Gandhi and laying a wreath at the NAM Monument, mentioned the 'special place' Guyana has in the hearts of Indians and recalled the strong
cultural links, 'which are much more comprehensive'.
He was given the keys to George Town on Wednesday morning by Mayor Hamilton Greene in the City Gardens.
On this occasion, Shekhawat said he is very touched by the gesture of Guyana citizens of putting the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Georgetown.
Shekhawat also spent nearly an hour at the Guyana National Museum which displays the country's exotic heritage.
He also visited the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre, which contains the legacy and work of the first premier.