By Tsitsi Matope
MASERU — The newly-appointed Honorary Consul of India to Lesotho Man Mohan Bakaya has pledged to work with all stakeholders to ensure the strong ties that exist between the two countries lead to further socio-economic development of the country.
The Indian Consulate was inaugurated in Lesotho last month, just a few days after the Lesotho Consulate was opened in India.
Bakaya has been working in Lesotho for the past 25 years, during which he acquired “a rich understanding of the Basotho people, their culture and the economic and social needs” of Lesotho.
Bakaya is also the Managing Director of one of the leading consultancy firms in the water sector, GWC Consulting Engineers (Pty) — a company that has played a key role in developing Lesotho’s water sector.
He also served as the president of the Indian Association of Lesotho in the 90s, during when he worked tirelessly towards fostering the spirit of cooperation and understanding between Basotho and the Indian community.
An estimated 2 000 Indians live in Lesotho, many of whom are now Basotho by naturalisation, and work in various sectors while others run their own businesses.
“Relations between Lesotho and India date back many years and I am convinced with an Indian Consulate, the friendship is going to be further improved through various programmes,” Bakaya told the Lesotho Times on Monday this week.
“Basically, there is a lot that the two countries can benefit from one another.”
According to Bakaya, the recent visit to the Cll Conclave Business Investment Forum in India by a high-level Lesotho delegation led by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, paved the way for further bilateral cooperation in various sectors.
On his part, the High Commissioner of India to South Africa, Virendra Gupta said the “shared historic backgrounds” between India and many African countries formulated the basis of the existing cordial relations.
“We understand each other mainly because we were colonised and deprived of justice and freedom,” Gupta said.
“After we became independent in 1947, the government focused its efforts on human resource development and established some of the most respected training institutions in the world.
Over the years, he said, India has opened its universities to Africa, including Lesotho and shared their expertise in human resource development.
“The governments of Lesotho and India continue to value this relationship, which has since been taken to another level following the current development.”
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohlabi Tsekoa has described Bakaya as a man of great integrity, passion and responsibility.
“We have no doubt that he will deliver because of his level of knowledge about this country and the trust we have in him. We know he will work with us in our efforts to beat poverty, hunger and disease,” Tsekoa said.
Importantly, Tsekoa said the two diplomatic offices will help enhance relations at people-to-people level while at the same time, open new roads of cooperation.
Following the high-level delegation’s recent visit to India, Tsekoa said many lessons were drawn from the democracy in India, how the country manages to feed its 1.2 billion people, its massive technological and medical innovations and strong human resource base.
Thabane, who was invited by the Export and Import Bank to attend the forum, officially opened the conference while Lesotho was picked as the country partner for this year.
However, Tsekoa emphasised the need for Lesotho to take full advantage of the opportunities in India especially in the area of skills development. “India is a leader in medicine, engineering, education, energy development and management, among others.”