Port-of-Spain: Trinidad and Tobago`s Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has appreciated the Indian panchayat system as promoting "family values".
Addressing the Parliament on the occasion of 169th Indian Arrival Day in Trinidad and Tobago, the prime minister said: "The panchayat system held families and communities together to ensure that hard-worn and jealously protected system of moral values and ethics was never compromised."
She said many challenges that we face today, as a modern society, can find solutions in the wisdom of our elders and ancestors, by traditions passed down.
"It is without doubt that the East Indian population in Trinidad and Tobago has achieved much and has contributed immeasurably to national development over the past 169 years of life and history in various disciplines," Persad-Bissessar said.
Trinidad President Anthony Carmona, in his message, said the Indian diaspora in Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean represents a vital and unrivalled thrust in world culture, education and politics.
"Against a background of extreme adversities, our Indian brothers and sisters, have preserved and demonstrated that hard work, sacrifice and belief in God can trigger great rewards."
The progressive response of Trinidad and Tobago diaspora meshing other cultures with their art, music, dance, cuisine and customs have provided a fundamental platform for us being regarded as a rainbow nation, the president added.
Indian High Commissioner, Gauri Shankar Gupta said that the arrival of the first indentured Indians in Trinidad and Tobago, the Arrival Da celebrations in a way serves to remind the Indian community of their roots and of their deep emotional bonds with the culture, tradition and value system that their ancestors brought with them 169 years ago.
"The occasion also serves to remind the Indian diaspora of the tremendous accomplishments of their ancestors," he added.
The East Indian diaspora was sourced from the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar between 1845 and 1917. They were brought here by the then colonial government to rescue the dying agricultural economy following the end of slavery by the British Parliament in 1834.
The first batch of East Indians was the beginning of several journeys amounting to approximately 148,000 East Indians. They brought with them new cuisine, habits, traditions, customs and Hinduism.
Today, most of the great-grand children and grand children of the indentured are now holding top positions in government, professions and corporate governance.