In diplomatic drive, India offers to help in re-building Colombia after 52 years of civil war

By: | Published: September 28, 2016 6:03 AM

India has offered Colombia help in reconstruction following the end of 52 years of civil war, government officials said, as part of a diplomatic drive in South America.

India has offered Colombia help in reconstruction following the end of 52 years of civil war, government officials said, as part of a diplomatic drive in South America.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and the leader of Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia rebels (Spanish name FARC), Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, alias ‘Timochenko’, on Monday signed an accord setting out the timetable for FARC to lay down arms and become a political organisation.

Coincidentally, October 2 — celebrated in India as Gandhi Jayanti — is the date set aside for the ratification of the accord by the voters who will consider the agreement in a single-issue referendum in Colombia.

It may be recalled when the announcement of the peace accord was made, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had sent his congratulatory message to Santos and offered India’s participation in the reconstruction programmes in the Andean country.

Sharing his views on the peace accord between Colombia and FARC, Rudi Warjri, former ambassador of India to Colombia & Ecuador, told FE, “The peace accord signed in Cartagena, Colombia is very significant. In my view, the armed conflict in Colombia is the most intricate and burdensome, primarily because of its strong financial links to narco trafficking. I have a background of being born and brought up in the insurgency-affected area of northeastern region in India.”

“As ambassador to Colombia in 2010-2014, I witnessed the beginning of the peace process. The people of Colombia were fed up with violence. I noticed this among victimised families who participated actively in activities organised by the Gandhi Foundation but who openly denounced violence. I hope the rest of the world including India will also learn from the peace accord in Colombia,” added the former diplomat who has served as an envoy in other countries including in Peru, Sri Lanka and Cambodia.

The current ambassador of India in Colombia and Ecuador, Prabhat Kumar, told FE, “India is giving scholarships to the Colombians under the Civilian Training Programme Indian Technical & Economic Cooperation (ITEC). Also, we have offered to send 25 teachers from Colombia for teacher training.”

The Indian National Science Academy (INSA) offers fellowship programme for Colombian students. About 10 fellowships are awarded annually. The maximum period of award will be for three months. Selection is based on the recommendations of a committee consisting of eminent scientists.

“The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), has also set aside educational and cultural scholarships for Colombia. Any Colombian student wishing to undergo undergraduate or post graduate/research studies in any recognised Universities in India, after passing the English language test, as the medium of instruction would be English. The scholarships include for studies in any faculty, including acting, direction and production design, TV, screenplay writing etc at the Film and Television Institute of India, in addition to undergraduate studies in ayurvedic or homeopathic medicine,” Kumar added.

As part of India’s offer to help in reconstruction, India has also extended help to train 10 Colombians in poverty alleviation, diplomatic sources added. Also, as reported earlier by FE, in Colombia, a lot of land which was out of bounds because of the insurgency will become available for cultivation after the peace agreement with FARC, expected to add 1-2% to their GDP. Colombia can meet some of India’s requirements of vegetable oil, pulses etc.

At the signing of the accord, the two sides were joined by leaders from the US, Mexico, El Salvador, Uruguay, Cuba and the United Nations. Over 15 heads of states witnessed the historic signing of the accord in Cartagena, Colombia. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was the only spiritual leader from the East who was invited for this ceremony.

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