Chester Francis-Jackson, Contributor
Over the years, India and Jamaica have shared a very special relationship. They are friends, if you will, and both nations have many things in common. They are linked through organisations such as the British Commonwealth of Nations and have established a track record of bilateral support and cooperation.
Indeed, over the years, the Republic of India has underpinned its support to Jamaica with a number of scholarships and bursaries, enabling the technical and educational development of Jamaica. The two countries have, indeed, developed a stable relationship making the nation of 1.2 billion people one of Jamaica's most loyal allies and benefactors.
Some four per cent of the island's overall national make-up are Indians giving credence to our national motto. The bonds between India and Jamaica are anything but superficial and so it is no surprise that each year, the Indian population here led by the high commissioner, commemorate Republic Day. Not only is the event one of the most sought-after invites, it represents a premier social outing, and a must-attend for the culturally and politically aware!
And so, on Saturday, the 26, despite many other pressing engagements across the island, a bumper crowd attended the celebration at India House - the official residence of the Indian high commissioner.
As is customary with India's Republic Day celebration in Jamaica - a unique feature - no alcohol is served.
And so it was last Saturday evening as hundreds of Jamaica nationals, leading members of the Government, diplomatic and consular corps joined His Excellency High Commissioner Pratap Singh and his charmingly elegant and beautiful wife, Prem Lata Singh, on the lawns of India House for what was truly an intimately fab reception.
Now, another beauty of the privilege of guesting at India Republic Day is the joy of seeing the Indians in their national dress, particularly the ladies in their fabulous saris. Luvs, talk about a thing of beauty - there's nothing like the beauty of the flowing sari, in all its resplendence, and so it was last Saturday, as the Indian community was out in full and celebratory numbers and flawlessly accoutred, and thus adding to the beauty of the occasion.
And it was quite the occasion too as, indeed, Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips brought salutations and exhortations on behalf of the Government and people of Jamaica; while the host, High Commissioner Singh, saluted the occasion with a speech that marked the contribution of his countrymen and women, who fought to make Republic Day the reality it is while lauding his country and countrymen, in general, in a speech that really as punctuated by its brevity and clarity in message.
Now, there were no libations to offer, but fruit juices and carbonated beverages there were aplenty, as well as an Indian feast that had guests mm-mm-ing in appreciation. It all made for a beautiful reception and nothing but. Among the dignitaries out for the occasion were Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller; Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips and Sandra Minott-Phillips, QC; Custos of Kingston Steadman and Sonia Fuller; Custos of St Andrew Marigold Harding and husband, Dr Oswald Harding; custos of St Ann Radcliffe Walters and Sonia Walters; Chief of Defence Staff Major General Antony Anderson and the fab Justine Henzell; DPP Paula Llewellyn; head of state protocol, Ricardo and Suzanne Alicock; dean of the diplomatic corps, Ambassador Yuri Gala Lopez of Cuba; Russian Ambassador Vladimir Polenov; German Ambassador Josef Beck; Spanish Ambassador Her Excellency Senora Celsa Nu˝o and husband Alex Crowther; South African High Commissioner Her Excellency Mathu Joyini; Ambassador Yesuo Takese of Japan; Canadian High Commissioner Robert Ready; Brazilian Ambassador Antonio DaCosta Silva; Her Excellency Dr Eva Gloudon of Trinidad and Tobago; the new Venezuelan Ambassador to Jamaica, Her Excellency Maria Jacqueline Mendoza Ortega; Panamanian Ambassador Jorge Constantine; Nicaraguan Ambassador David McField; High Commissioner of St Kitts and Nevis Cedric Harper; and Ambassador JosÚ Tomas Ares German of the Dominican Republic. From the consular corps we spotted honorary consul of Iceland, Robert MacMillan; and the lovely Suzanne Bradley; honorary consul of Ecuador, Clelia Barretto de Hunter; honorary consul of the Principality of Monaco, Rear Admiral Peter Brady, and his wife, Carol Brady; Captain Michael and wife Thalia Lyn, the honorary consul of the Royal Thai Kingdom.Also out were Town Clerk Errol Greene and wife, Sharon Greene; celebrated pollster, the esteemed Don Anderson; Professor Verene Sheperd; Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin and his wife, Capt Tessa Lewin; the esteemed Chris and Michelle Bovell; Dr Olivia McMillan; conglomateur Kenny Benjamin and his companion, the lovely Aloima Suarez; the elegant Jennifer Lim; Milton and Elizabeth Samuda; Bindley and Sharon Sangster; Neville Blythe; Milton Samuda; Lachu Ramchandani; celebrated photographer Brian Rosen and the stunning Samantha Rennahc; artist Stafford Schlieffer; Andrea Bickhoff-Benjamin; the venerable Al Niazi; Hubert Chin and wife, Jean Lowrie-Chin; Diya Khemlani; the celebrated Harold Brady and the elegant Sonita Abrahams; Dr Deborah Hickling; the lovely Julie Ramchandani; Ali McNab; Cedric McDonald; Liz Ewart; Dr Akshai and Mrs Bunjan Mansingh; head of the Alliance Franšaise, Amandine Poret; Martha Corbett-Baugh; and Indian High Commission's DCM Anil Saxena, who kept things humming; plus several others - all making for a beautiful outing!