Tue | Jul 7, 2020

Lessons from India - UWI benefits from global partnership

Published:Sunday | February 23, 2020 | 12:22 AMDavid Salmon - Gleaner Writer
Indian High Commissioner to Jamaica, Shri Sevala Naik.
Indian High Commissioner to Jamaica, Shri Sevala Naik.

Students from the University of the West Indies (UWI) were last week privy to a guest lecture from the Indian High Commissioner to Jamaica, His Excellency Shri Sevala Naik.

The event, organised by the UWI Department of Government, in collaboration with the Faculty of Social Sciences, was held under the context of India’s growing role in the world as a global stakeholder. The presentation highlighted the close relationship Jamaica has developed with its fellow Commonwealth nation from southern Asia.

Students had the opportunity to learn about the world’s largest democracy as well as its post-colonial history and measures the country implemented to ensure that people from various backgrounds exercise their franchise to vote.

Possessing over 900 million eligible voters, India’s electoral environment spans the mountains of the Himalayas, lush forests, arable lands and sprawling coastal environments. Yet, despite this varied topography, the country has successfully implemented elections over a month while enjoying voter turnout in the region of 69 per cent.

From the discussions, it was clear that there are lessons that Jamaica can learn from India’s experiences with democracy.

Persons such as first-year student, David Ramsay, thoroughly enjoyed the presentation as he sought to learn about opportunities in the country.

He told The Gleaner, “The presentation by His Excellency was very informative and it shows how, even though India is so far away from the Caribbean, the democratic ties between the Caribbean, especially Jamaica and India, are even closer than they were ever before. Us, as Jamaicans, can learn from India.”


Associate dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Dr Lisa Vasciannie, used the occasion to highlight the relationship the university has forged with its international partners. UWI is now working with the Indian High Commission to send one of its faculty members to the Asian country.

“The faculty is pleased to be a part of the Distinguished Visitors Programme that is offered through the Indian High Commission. Our faculty member will be experiencing various aspects of Indian culture, visiting and interacting with institutions in India including their electoral offices to learn about some of the innovations in their political institutions,” said Vasciannie.

Moreover, this is an ongoing effort of the Department and Faculty’s long-term goal to diversify learning opportunities for its students, she noted, adding that, “The department is trying to have more experiential learning activities for its students. Where we are unable to take students out to embassies or to visit workspaces, we are inviting as many ambassadors and heads of organisations to come here. While we have good academics on staff, it is always good to get a perspective from the practitioners.”

In the future, students can expect even more lecturers from practitioners in the field while the faculty pursues further exchange programmes.