When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago, to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, in November last year, he would not have had any indication that the country would soon see an ‘Indian’ Prime Minister, and that too a lady.
People of the island nation surprised all when they elected 58-year-old Kamla Persad Bissesar as the country’s Prime Minister. The political coalition led by her won 29 of the 41 seats in parliament, the results of which were announced on May 26. She heads the United National Congress party.
None of the 148, 000 Indians, who had embarked on a 36,000 kilometer long journey on boats to work as labourers in the sugarcane plantations of Trinidad and Tobago between 1845 and 1917, would have ever imagined that a day would come when one of their descendants, and that too a lady, would become the Prime Minister of the island nation.
Indian labourers, mostly from the present day Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, were taken there to replace the Africans when African slavery was abolished.
Trinidad and Tobago has a population of 1.3 million, over 40 percent of Indian origin and an equal percentage African.
Kamla Bissessar is the second Indo-Trinidadian to become the Prime Minister of the country. The first Indo-Trinidadian to achieve this distinction was Basdeo Pandey, who was Prime Minister from 1995 to 2001.