Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his visit to Victoria, Seychelles, has agreed to establish a Joint Working Group (JWG) for a blue economy with Seychelles President James Michel, terming the island nation a leader in its advancement.
"Today, President Michel and I have agreed to establish a joint working group to expand our cooperation on the blue economy. This cooperation will increase our understanding of marine ecology and resources. We will improve our ability to harness new possibilities of the ocean in a sustainable and balanced manner. This is a major step in advancing our scientific and economic cooperation," Prime Minister Modi said here.
"We are pleased to be a partner in development of human resources and capacity building in Seychelles. Indeed, Seychelles is one of the largest recipients of Indian assistance in this area. We intend to expand this further in the future. Seychelles is a leader in advancing the concept of blue economy . We also believe that the ocean economy is indispensable to meeting our future challenges," he added.
Speaking of the agreements signed between the two sides, Prime Minister Modi expressed confidence about increasing bilateral trade between the two sides.
"We stressed our support for expansion in our modest trade and investment relations. We are confident that we can achieve it, especially as Seychelles looks to a future in which information technology and services play an increasingly important role. I also expressed hope that Seychelles would be able to quickly utilize the committed USD 75 million in grants and credit in accordance with its priorities," he said.
Prime Minister Modi also announced free visa grants to Seychelles residents.
"We deeply value the close and warm ties between our people. I welcomed the launch of direct air services to India by Air Seychelles last December. We have decided to grant free visas for three months to the citizens of Seychelles. We will also extend to you the facility of visa-on-arrival," he said.
Prime Minister Modi also thanked Seychelles for its continuous support of India in international forums.
"I thanked President Michel for his government's consistent support to India in international forums. This includes the endorsement for India's permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council. We had strong convergence of views on climate change. We are two nations that are vulnerable to its impact. And, we are deeply committed to combating it," he said.
"We stressed our shared commitment to strong national action. We also called for a strong and ambitious global effort, especially from the developed world, on climate change. I reiterated our consistent support to the position of the small island developing states. Equally, I renewed India's strong commitment to our partnership with Africa. Our relationship is a powerful example of warm friendship and productive partnership. For India, this relationship means a lot. This visit has reinforced the special warmth in our ties and taken our strategic partnership to a new level. I am grateful to President Michel and the people of Seychelles for this," he added.
Relations between India and Seychelles have been characterized by close cooperation and understanding. An Indian naval ship, the INS Tarasa, was gifted to Seychelles in 2014 to augment surveillance and patrolling capacity of Seychelles waters. Several Indian ships have since made port calls in Victoria.
Indians constitute about one tenth of the country's 91,000-strong population. On January 9, 2015, the Pravasi Bharatitya Samman Award was conferred on a Seychelles citizen of Indian origin, Justice D. Karunakaran. He is the second Seychellian recipient of the award. The community is looking forward to greater people to people contact with India which would receive an impetus with the visit of Prime Minister Modi to the island nation.
(Image credit: PIB India)