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Muraldeedharan Uganda Visit: nourishing solidarity and enduring bonds

Tuesday, 23rd November 2021
President Yoweri Museveni receives Minister Muraleedharan at State House, Entebbe

The warm bilateral relations between Uganda and India received another boost during the recent three-day visit of the Hon Muraldeedharan, the Indian Minister of State in charge of International Development and Parliamentary Affairs to Uganda. At State House Entebbe, President Museveni underlined the depth of this relationship recalling how India had supported Uganda during the first phase of COVID and again with a donation of vaccine. The President welcomed the enhanced relationship between the two countries in the area of defence and security, saying he would discuss the process of further deepening defence ties with Prime Minister Modi.

The visiting Indian Minister had a tight schedule of engagements including an inter ministerial consultation on matters of economic growth. Of these, discussions focused on Ugandan access to the$10 billion Indo-Africa fund which India has provided for African countries. Accessible as loans at 1.5% interest, Uganda was lagging in borrowing from the Indian EXIM Bank, citing worries over debt.                                         

During these consultations, Uganda recalled the offer of an international convention centre made by Prime Minister Modi. Through the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hon Okello Oryem, the country assured India of her continued interest in the Convention Centre. As a demonstration of this interest the Ministry of Tourism, Wild Life and Antiquities had secured the land for it.

The uncertainties hovering over the Uganda-India cultural centre at the Source of the Nile were demolished by agreement among all parties, including  the Busoga kingdom and Jinja City authorities, on the importance of this project. Muraleedharan witnessed the new spirit of peace and understanding marked the presence of all parties led by the Minister of State for Cooperatives of the Government of Uganda, the Second Deputy Prime Minister of Busoga Kingdom and the Uganda Tourism Board Chairperson who welcomed him.  A fresh start for this long-delayed project was hailed by all parties, including the High Commissioner of India to Uganda, Ambassador Ajay Kumar. Also present throughout the ministerial visit were the Joint Secretary for East and Southern Africa and the Uganda Desk Officer at the Indian Ministry of External Affairs.

The ministerial programme included a peek into the tourist attractions of Uganda, the Pearl of Africa. Thus after visiting the Statue of Mahatma Gandhi and paying homage to this great son of India  at the source of the Nile, Muraleedharan took a dip in the Nile, where he stood in silent contemplation for a while. He then touched the waters of the mighty river and poured a handful over his head. Similarly, the Minister visited the Equator site where he got a cultural reception mounted by children who live around this remarkable place. The Minister caught the cheerful mood which the slight shower upon his arrival heightened rather than dampened. Declaring that the Indian Minister had brought them rain, the District Commissioner of Mpigi, the Mayor of Kayabwe Town and the local community tried to get as many pictures with the Minister at the Equator as possible. Meanwhile, the Minister got a science lecture on the realities of living at the Equator and at either pole of this exceptional latitude. Having acquired this knowledge the Minister received his Uganda Equator Visitor Certificate.