India to train Lesotho policeBy Shubha Singh, IANS
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
NEW DELHI - India and Lesotho, the small landlocked kingdom surrounded by South Africa, have a “very profitable partnership” that covers a variety of sectors from cooperation in defence and security to capacity building to tech connectivity, says Lesotho’s Foreign Minister Mohlabi Tsekoa. And after training its defence forces, India will soon start training its police force.
Lesotho has benefited greatly from India’s assistance in training the Lesotho defence forces, said Tsekoa, who was in Delhi to attend the India-Least Developed Countries ministerial meeting. India has imparted training to all levels of the Lesotho defence forces, both in India and in Lesotho, he added.
Following the experience of the training of the Lesotho Defence Forces, the Lesotho government had requested India for assistance in training its police force.
“We have received confirmation of the timing of the training programme for our police force, which is to start later this year,” Tsekoa told IANS after a meeting with Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna. Lesotho has received assistance in human resource development in various fields through the scholarships under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme as well.
Trade is mainly from India and “we have to focus on ways to improve bilateral trade”, the minister said. The major exports of Lesotho, the small landlocked kingdom surrounded by South Africa, are diamonds and water, mohair, wool and apparel.
“We sell water to South Africa and we export apparel to the US and Canada. We cannot export apparel to India because it is also an exporter of the same product,” he said.
The second meeting of the India-Lesotho Joint Commission is due to be held in Lesotho in September this year, when the question of increasing trade flows will be discussed. The Indian private sector has envisaged an interest in prospecting and mining of diamonds.
Lesotho exports high quality, large diamonds through the diamond trading bourses in London and Antwerp. Foreign Minister Tsekoa said that a 603-carat white diamond that was named Lesotho Promise was discovered at the Letseng-la-Terae mine five years ago, and another 478-carat diamond was discovered at the same location two years later.
India has become one of the largest cutting and polishing centres for raw diamonds in the world, but diamonds do not figure in the India-Lesotho bilateral trade as Lesotho does not hold any auctions or diamond trading in the country. Indian diamond traders would purchase raw diamonds sourced from Lesotho from trading centres in Europe.
The areas of cooperation that were identified in the first meeting of the Joint Commission were agriculture development, employment generation, education, tourism and upgrading of infrastructure. India and Lesotho signed an inter-governmental memorandum of understanding on the promotion and setting up of small-scale industry units.
Under various cooperation schemes, India has provided pharmaceutical products and anti- retroviral drugs for tackling HIV/AIDS. Indian agricultural experts and technicians have been sent to Lesotho to provide training in productive agricultural practices. A line of credit offered by India was utilised for purchase of tractors and irrigation equipment.
(Shubha Singh can be contacted at email@example.com)