Indore: Guyana President Chandrikapersad Santokhi and his Suriname counterpart Irfaan Ali on Monday praised India for reaching out to developing countries during the Covid-19 pandemic with vaccines and medical assistance.

Speaking at the ongoing 'Pravasi Bharatiya Divas' event in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, Guyana President Irfaan Ali said, "When the world couldn't find the vaccine and you faced the challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic, you showed the world what real love and hope is when you shared vaccine with the rest of the world."

Thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his 'herculean effort' in the pandemic fight, he said, "India used the fruits of its independence to assist other developing countries. PM Modi, we owe you a debt of gratitude. When the world locked its borders and globalization failed, you showed that globalization can still succeed and there's still love when the hardest of times hit us."

Ali also invoked the philosophy of 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam', saying that India provided a healing hand to the world during the Covid crisis.

"PM @NarendraModi Ji showed the world what real love & hope is when he shared the vaccine with the rest of the world, says the President of Guyana H.E Mohamed Irfaan Ali. Guided by the philosophy of 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam', India provided a healing hand to the world during Covid-19," tweeted Dr Mansukh Mandaviya, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare.

Sharing his experience in India, the Guyanese President said he was delighted to be in India as he had completed his higher education in the country.

"I am delighted to be here once again. India belongs to all of us. India offered me the opportunity for higher education," said Ali.

Explaining the significance of January 9, he said, "It's a significant day in the history of India. On 9th Jan 1950 when Mahatma Gandhi returned to India from South Africa. On this day, 107 years ago the once physically frail-looking but morally firm man returned and intensified the struggle for India's independence."

Ali further said India's independence was an inspiration for freedom-seekers. He said that India is a world leader in developing talent and Guyana has learned a lot from the PBD host.

"Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, Guyana has benefitted from robust infrastructure, technology, investment, sport, trade and water. As President, I find commonality in Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Prayas, Sabka Vishwas," said Ali.

"India is a world leader in developing talent. We have learned from India. My country is a multi-ethnic society. One recent report suggested that 40 per cent of Guyanese are overseas Indians. Guyana is now a much stronger economy than it has been. It is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. The country's economy is on a full take-off. Our intention is to position Guyana in leading, in terms of energy and full-scale humanitarian work and India is an important strategic partner," he added.

On the Indian diaspora, he said that Guayana is now embracing the integration of the diaspora.

"Guayana is now embracing the integration of the diaspora. They are an integral part of our nation. They are a part of us and not apart from us," he said.

"Guyana is a multi-cultural society like India. These traditions promote a sense of oneness. If a diaspora is to make more integral, it just gets accurate information. Diaspora possesses skills, important for modernization. We look at our diaspora to protect our national interests and defend territorial integrity from external threats," he added.

The President of Suriname, Chandrikapersad Santokhi, greeted PM Narendra Modi in Hindi in his address at the 17th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention. He also expressed condolences over the demise of the Prime Minister's Modi mother, Heeraben.

"On behalf of the people, I express our sincerest gratitude for the warm hospitality. This convention is a great momentum for opportunities to explore the Amrit Kaal," said Santokhi.

He further underscored the need for setting up diaspora funds for diaspora projects and programmes.

"A diaspora fund should be created for diaspora projects & programs in the region. Founding of training centers, schools in different places of our countries should be initiated to learn the Hindi language, also learning about religions and culture and our tradition," the Suriname President said.

He cited examples of regional enterprises for pharmaceuticals for affordable medicines and promoting air connectivity between nations.

"For the Caribbean and Indian diaspora, the institute can be established in the Caribbean for training in Hindi, culture etc; academy in the Caribbean for supporting film industry where diaspora youth can get the opportunity to showcase talent, train in Yoga, Ayurveda, spirituality as a way of life," added Santokhi.

He also pitched for the establishment of a Caribbean high-tech training institution in modern technology for diaspora nations and said that Suriname is willing to host one of those institutions.

Lauding India's health and financial sectors and the role of the Indian diaspora, he said, "We are informed about the role of India in the health sectors top companies and also the financial sectors. The question is how can we benefit from this wealth of knowledge for our diaspora. I make use of this opportunity to sit around the table and set new avenues of cooperation. It is crucial to nurture the historical bonds."

Saying that India has proven to be a reliable partner, he added that all crises and challenges can be tackled.

Lauding PM Modi, he said, "PM Modi, your leadership for G20 expressed by the theme 'One World, One Family' is fully embedded in the philosophy of Vasudhaiv Kutumbhakam."

Prime Minister Modi, President of Suriname Santokhi and Guyanese President Ali also launched a commemorative stamp at the 17th PBD, on Monday.

A commemorative postal stamp 'Surakshit Jaayen, Prashikshit Jaayen' was released highlighting the significance of a safe, legal, orderly, and skilled migration.