Mon | Dec 17, 2018

An Indian lesson in diplomacy

Published:Sunday | November 19, 2017 | 12:00 AMAmitabh Sharma
Kimbereley Morgan
Kimberley Morgan at the Agra Fort, India
India Gate in New Delhi

India grows into you, and the reasons could be varying - from the physical attributes to the metaphysical manifestations - then there is intrigue, the paradox of fast-paced chaotic lifestyle juxtaposed with the serenity of spirituality ... romantic.

Kimberley Morgan, foreign service officer at Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, has developed new set of DNA, which she has gone on to trend.

"India is remarkable in so many ways," Morgan said. "While seeing the massive plains of this eastern land, I created the hashtag you can't un-see India (#YouCantUnseeIndia).

"I don't think it is even proper English," she added, "but my explanation for this hashtag is simple - the beauty and wonder I encountered in India will never leave the confines of my mind. It is now and forever imprinted there."

Romanticism aside, India has traditionally been a powerhouse of education, training, and the sciences - Jamaican professionals, like Morgan, have had the opportunity to visit and study in the world's largest democracy.

She attended the 64th Professional Course for Foreign Diplomats, the primary focus of which is to initiate mutual cooperation and understanding, and to forge a common bond among the diplomats

"The course sensitised and provided better understanding of critical international and regional issues," Morgan said.

According to her, this gave a refreshing insight into the nuances of foreign policy.

"The course provided awareness of political, economic, social and cultural realities that influence foreign relations; exposure to India's history and culture; sensitised participants to India's view on contemporary issues; and honed necessary diplomatic skills," she informed.

This training hosted at the Foreign Service Institute of the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi, India.

"As the delegate chosen to represent Jamaica, I was very honoured for the opportunity to learn more about Indian foreign policy and culture first-hand," Morgan said. "I learnt about India and the future they envision for South-South Cooperation and diplomacy in the long-run."

The fundamentals of the foreign policy of India and that of the country's outlook - non-partisan, non-intrusion and collaborative, rather than compete for the greater good. This, according to the young Jamaican diplomat, was a revelation and gave a new perspective.

"It was more than evident to me that India credits its model of foreign policy non-intrusive and partnership-oriented, which was a major theme echoed throughout the training, for their progress to date," Morgan said.

According to her, one of the key things she took back home was to learn about India's strategy to provide understanding of their ideals to the junior diplomats who are the natural successors in the diplomatic system.

"In that context, India has amply demonstrated their desire for continued diplomatic partnerships," she said.

It was a holistic learning experience, Morgan said. In and outside the classroom - well, the diversity of the country does leave a mark in the visitor's mind.

"Though, I didn't speak Hindi (the predominant language spoken in Northern India) or any of the other many languages spoken in India, the people found me quite fascinating," she said.

The fascination moved to the streets - as much as 'straight' hair is a fancy in this part of the world - the twists and braids are a show-stopper.

"I wasn't expecting this response," Morgan recalled, "But I soon came to realise that being in a picture with a locked-hair, dark-skinned Jamaican was a novelty.

"On two occasions, my hair made its debut," she said, adding that on several occasions, photos were either requested of her or taken at will.

"I eventually embraced it," she said. "And for the first time, I experienced what it was like to be somewhat of a star in India."

As Morgan was honing her diplomacy skills, being the centre of attraction and getting her taste buds tingled almost 14,000km away, back home alumni of Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme converged at the High Commission of India in Kingston to celebrate ITEC day.

"India has a range of high-class training to offer and we invite more Jamaicans to participate in the programme," said M. Sevala Naik, high commissioner of India to Jamaica.

He was joined by Marcia Gilbert-Roberts, permanent secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, who heaped accolades for the opportunities provided to young Jamaican professionals by the Government of India.

The focus of ITEC is training and capacity building. Professionals from developing countries get the opportunity to participate in training courses.

The ITEC programme began in 1964, and forms part of the government of India's Development Partnership Initiative, which facilitates development cooperation through grant assistance, disaster relief, humanitarian aid, and educational scholarship programmes on a long-term and short-term basis.

"The programme is a visible symbol of India's role and contribution to South-South Cooperation," high commissioner Naik said.

Past participants shared their experiences, from the impeccable training they received in state-of-the-art environment to the food and festivities.

In New Delhi, Morgan was getting enriched and becoming the brand ambassador to promote India.

"Based on my short five-week-stay, I would encourage my fellow Foreign Service Officers to seize this opportunity, as well as those Jamaicans who are curious about India, to make the trip," she said.

"Meeting fellow counterparts in the good business of diplomacy in the early stages of their careers was indeed delightful and enlightening," Morgan added.

The trip, according to her, was intensive - in the five-week stay she attended lectures ranging from topics on geopolitics, foreign policy and diplomatic skills, and in the course of the studies she managed, what she calls kick some items off her 'bucket list'. She had the opportunity to visit the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, home to the source of River Ganges, the tech city in Hyderabad in south India, and of course legendary Agra home of the iconic Taj Mahal.

"The truth is," Morgan said. "I could never summarise my experience in just one sitting. I will never forget India, it's 'Namaste' hospitality, alluring beauty, diverse culture, and the core principles of their Foreign Policy."

She #CantUnSeeIndia ...