Pundit Maniedeo Persad
By Sue-Ann Wayow
FORMER Trinidad and Tobago High Commissioner to India Pundit Maniedeo Persad is condemning a newspaper publication which he said demonised India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Newsday published in its editorial section on March 5, an article entitled, “A Passage to India.”
In a statement, Persad said in any democracy there will always be voices with different views and agenda and that media sometimes reported based on their views and preferences.
He said, “I find the negative reference to Sri Narendra Modi, the duly elected Prime Minister of India and India a country that holds a special place in the hearts of a significant proportion of our population by the editorial of a national newspaper in Trinidad and Tobago to be unbalanced to put it mildly. This is worthy of condemnation in the strongest terms.”
Newsday stated, “What nobody is talking about is whether it is appropriate for anyone to accept India’s philanthropy in the first place, given the dismal record of Mr Modi. Why is this country, and CARICOM as a whole, content to allow itself to be a pawn in India’s soft diplomacy game?”
The paper stated, “The lack of an adequate supply of Covid-19 jabs poses a clear and present danger to the region. But some would argue it is equally risky to make a deal with the devil.”
Persad said that India was recognised as the “pharmacy of the world,” and the country has a culture of caring and sharing, viewing the world as one family and it was no surprise that it would assist other countries in acquiring Covid-19 vaccines either by gift or sale including other Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries.
In his defence of India’s prime minister, Persad said he was able to meet and see firsthand what then Modi was able to achieve in his home State of Gujarat before being elected as prime minister when he served in India. Persad served from 2003 to 2010.
Persad said, “What is clear is he has the support of the majority of his country as prime minister in democratically held elections.
“He is a person who was not from the political class but a grassroots Indian whose father was reputed to be a tea seller with him rising to the rank of prime minister.”
He said Modi represented the hopes, dreams and aspirations of the majority of India and has set about an agenda of change and development throughout India, including Jammu and Kashmir, which is now being integrated into India properly by ensuring the Constitution and Laws of India are applied over all of its sovereign territory.
Persad added “This despite attempts to internationalise this domestic issue of India.”
And with T&T being a country built on the backs of immigrants including Indian immigrants, it should be leveraging on the various communities, he said.
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