India’s High Commissioner to the Cook Islands Muktesh Pardeshi is in Rarotonga this week to present his letters of credence and talk future co-operation with the Cook Islands Government.
A career diplomat, High Commissioner Pardeshi is resident in Wellington and cross-credited to New Zealand, Samoa, Niue, Vanuatu and as of this morning, the Cook Islands. This visit by Pardeshi marks the beginning of accreditation by the Indian High Commission in Wellington to the Cook Islands – prior to now, relations between the two Governments had been managed via the India High Commission in Suva.
This year marks 24 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries and Pardeshi met with Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Tepaeru Herrmann this morning. “We’re pleased to host a visit by High Commissioner Pardeshi who comes into this role with distinguished credentials having most recently contributed to significant expansion of India/Brazil trade in his role as India’s Ambassador to Brazil,” said Secretary Herrmann. “Our collaboration with India to date has focused on technology particularly through the Centre of Excellence in Information Technology (CEIT – housed at the University of the South Pacific (USP) campus on Rarotonga) and transformative grass roots social and economic investment. Looking to the future, we see scope for further co-operation in information technology, creative industries (including film and digital economy), agriculture, health and trade and in multilateral fora such as the World Health Organization (WHO) the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and others where we have collaborated fruitfully for a number of years now”.
A hallmark of Cook Islands-India bilateral cooperation, the CEIT, established in 2018, is a joint collaboration between the two Governments that provides specialized training programmes in the fields of Information Communication and Technology (ICT). Implementing agencies are USP for the Cook Islands and the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) for India. CEIT have in recent years delivered more than 10 programmes in country, graduating over 100 Cook Islands residents in the areas of network security, cyber forensics, office automation, business computing and advanced web technologies. “Working closely with CEIT and High Commissioner Pardeshi, we hope to secure further investment by the Government of India in the CEIT to support our nation’s digital transformation endeavours and the social and economic benefits that would ensue, especially in the financial, health and education sectors.” High Commissioner Pardeshi will meet with CEIT Director Miimetua Nimerota this week.
Through the India Grant Fund, India has pledged NZ$569,000 towards various community based education, health, water, sports and waste management initiatives to be delivered in the forward months with project implementation oversight to be provided by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management Development Coordination Division (DCD).
During his visit, High Commissioner Pardeshi will also meet with Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mark Brown, Minister of Education Mac Mokoroa and senior Government officials from Agriculture, Transport and DCD.
“The Cook Islands and India already have the following in common – shared Commonwealth heritage, business language, democratic traditions and people to people links,” said Secretary Herrmann. “Arguably, India’s greatest asset is its youthful and increasingly educated population. Given India’s globally competitive telecommunications and information technology offering, the increasing importance a transition to a digital economy must play in our own economic recovery, an expanded ICT cooperation agenda together with targeted recruitment of skilled migrant workers from India would contribute to the Cook Island’s prosperity”. At present, some 30 citizens of India contribute to the Cook Islands economy and a further 100 or so citizens of Fiji of Indian descent are employed in the hospitality, ICT, financial services and transport sectors. High Commissioner Pardeshi will meet with Indian nationals during this week’s visit.
On a day to day basis, Ambassador Pardeshi and his staff interact with the Cook Islands through the Cook Islands High Commission in Wellington headed by Elizabeth Wright-Koteka.
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