Liberia: Government Honors ‘JEETY’ For Contributions To Liberia’s Socio-Economic Development
MONROVIA – The Government of Liberia (GOL), through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has bestowed one of the country’s highest honors on the former Indian Honorary Consul General to Liberia, Dr. Upjit Singh Sachdeva, for his “active” and immense contributions towards humanity and the socio-economic development of Liberia and its citizens.
Dr. Sachdeva, who is commonly known as ‘Jeety’ in Liberia, is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Jeety Trading Corporation- the leading importer of building and household hardware materials-and scores of other businesses in the country.
He was honored as a Knight Grand Master of Humane Order of African Redemption at a cocktail reception held in his honor at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia over the week end.
In a citation read by the Chief of Protocol of the Republic of Liberia at the reception, Ambassador Jervis Witherspoon, the government recounted that ‘Jeety’ left his law school studies and embarked on new ventures, leading to business opportunities in Liberia and elsewhere in the world.
It adds that these ventures opened doors for socio-economic development and, at the same time, provided an inroad for Liberia and its people to reap valuable dividends from India-Liberia cooperation.
It recalls that in the 1980s and 90s during the period of the Liberian civil crisis, the Jeety trading stores were a “trademark name in the area of construction and household hardwares”, noting that, “these stores were known for affordable goods where credit facilities were usually offered to buyers”.
The citation states that from 1995 to 1999, Dr. Sachdeva, as President of the Association of Indian Community in Liberia, infused new dynamism into business and cultural exchange between Liberian and Indian residents.
Following his appointment by the Government of India as Honorary Consul General to Liberia in 1998, Dr. Sachdeva “effectively” performed his consular duties by “concretizing the socio-economic and cultural ties between Liberia and India”.
The citation indicates that following his ascendancy, ‘Jeety’ also rose to become Dean of the Consular Corps in Liberia.
“During your tenure as Honorary Consul General of the Republic of India, cooperation and the exchange between the two countries attained new heights. You made strides in enhancing socio-economic and development ties” the citation maintains. You received wide acclamation for your humanitarian activities not only in Liberia but also in other African and western countries including many awards from media institutions and other organizations who also recognized your philanthropic deeds towards Liberians and other nationalities”.
It continues: “Therefore, as you wind down your official tour as Honorary Consul General, we express our ardent hope for more success in your future endeavor s during your stay in Liberia. Please accept this plaque as a demonstration of our gratitude to your many contributions to the wellbeing of the people of Liberia and for the enormous support you gave to Liberia-India cooperation”.
Early, Liberia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Dee. Maxwell Kemayah disclosed that the honoring of Dr. Sachdeva was endorsed by the senior management team at the ministry to coincide with the cocktail reception for members of the Diplomatic Corps.
He used the occasion to also disclose that the Liberian government attaches great importance to the diplomatic relations subsisting between it and members of the Diplomatic Corps who become supportive to Liberia’s development agenda.
For his part, Dr. Sachdeva expressed profound thanks and appreciation to the Liberian government, through the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, “a very thoughtful and commendable gesture for honoring” him following the successful end of his diplomatic duty in Liberia.
He pointed out that the ending of his duty tour in Liberia is occasioned invariably by the decision of the Government of India to open an Embassy with a resident Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary in Monrovia, adding that, the Indian Government’s decision to open a resident Embassy in Liberia is perhaps the greatest achievement of his incumbency as Honorary Consul General of India in Liberia.
Dr. Sachdeva recalled that he started his Consular and Diplomatic career in Liberia in 1994, first as Consular Assistant, and later rose to the rank of Acting Honorary Consul General, before subsequently been commissioned full Honorary Consul General by the Government of India in 1998-a position he served from then on to February 2021.
He recounted that during his diplomatic sojourn in Liberia, his office was privileged to work with great and very many Foreign Ministers, including G. Baccus Mathews; Momolu V. Sirleaf; Monie R. Captan; Thomas Yayah Nimley; Ambassador George W. Wallace, Jr.; Madam Olubanke King Akerele; Dr. Gayweah Toga McIntosh; Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan; Madam Marjon M. Kamara; Gbezohngah Findley; and until, Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah of recent.
The Sirleaf’s era
Dr. Sachdeva pointed out that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s era witnessed a dramatic surge in India-Liberia bilateral relations, as well as appreciable rise in the level of the economic, technical and cultural cooperation between both countries, as evidenced by the exchange of high level official visits to each other’s countries, starting with the official visit to Liberia of the Minister of State for External Affairs of India, Honorable Dr. Shashi Tharoor, from 16-19 September, 2009.
According to him, Dr. Tharoor’s visit then had been characterized as marking a significant turning point in the bilateral relations between India and Liberia, as the visit was the first in thirty eight years to be paid by an Indian Minister.
He added that Dr. Tharoor’s visit was closely followed by the visit to Liberia by the Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs, Honorable Valayar Ravi from February 3-4, 2010.
He noted that Dr Tharoor’s visit to Liberia occasioned the outright donation of US$2 million as grant-in-aid for projects in the education and health sectors, the supply of 25 transport buses, spare parts and training of mechanics , drivers to augment the public transportation facilities of the Monrovia Transit Authority, and the setting up of two “Hole-in-the-wall” computer education center.
He emphasized that former President Sirleaf herself was opportune to pay her first State visit to India by any President of Liberia from 9-12 September 2013, during which she received India’s most prestigious award, the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament, and Development for 2012.
Dr. Sachdeva maintained that in December 2014, the Government of India donated another consignment of 15 new buses as India’s way of identifying with Liberia’s development challenges.
Following the inauguration of President George Manneh Weah, Dr. Sachdeva disclosed the Minister of State for External Affairs, of India M.J. Akbar visited Liberia from 1-2 March 2018, met and held discussions with the Liberian Chief Executive on renewed bilateral relations and solidifying India-Liberia relations.
“One tangible outcome of the Indian Minister of State for External Affairs’ visit was the supply of 45 additional buses with accessories in December 2019 as gift from the Government of India to the Government of Liberia to help alleviate the acute transportation problem. Another outcome was the supply of five (5) Fire Trucks with accessories also in December 2019 as gift from the Government of India to the Government of Liberia to boost the capacity of the Liberia Fire Service to combat fire outbreaks in Liberia”.
He added that as a result of the Minister of State’s visit, the Government of India gave to the Government of Liberia, a US$2million grant to be used in the Health Sector.
“For the utilization of this grant assistance, the Government of Liberia applied the money towards completion of the 14 Military Hospital in Schefflin, specifically towards the building of a SHANTI Block to be used as Emergency Ward Annex”.
Dr. Sachdeva pointed out that as part of support towards augmenting the Government of Liberia’s efforts in combating the Coronavirus pandemic, the Government of India in August 2020 donated medical supplies comprised of a total of 480,000 doses of injection, infusion and tablets.
He added that on November 24, 2020, the Government of India again donated a second batch of medical supplies to the Government of Liberia as additional assistance towards the combat against the pandemic.
“The second supply comprised of a total of 660,500 tablets, infusions, injections, and 500 pieces of infred thermometers”.
Dr. Sachdeva maintained that since the inception of the Weah led-government, his government has given over 150 training scholarships in various fields; and in the past 14 years, India has granted to date more than 1,000 scholarships to Liberian students.
According to him, the provision of multiple scholarships to Liberian students by the Indian government is part of efforts geared towards developing Liberia’s manpower capacity.
For several years now, Dr. Sachdeva has been engaged into humanitarian works, including the distribution of Cooked Hot Meal to thousands of less fortunate Liberians, including visually impaired, mentally derailed, disadvantaged youths and unprivileged children, old folks, among others on a daily basis.
There have been mounting concerns that the ex-Indian Honorary Consul General would discontinue his humanitarian works following his relieve from the post.
But Dr. Sachdeva used the occasion to pledge his unwavering continuous commitment and support towards providing humanitarian assistance to the needy in Liberia.
“I wish to assure you that, whether we are Honorary Consul General or not, our humanitarian gesture and keen interest in the implementation of home cooked food distribution program to the elderly and less fortunate Liberians who could ill-afford a meal a day will not diminish, but will continue unabated for we see this as service to humanity and doing God’s work”.
1.5 million Plates served
He pointed out that since he commenced his Home Cooked Hot Meal program in February 2017-“a program only funded by us , we have delivered over 1.5 million hot cooked meals to the elderly , zogos and less fortunate”.
According to him, the program is presently serving between 800 to 1000 meals on a daily basis.
The latest honor brings to two the number of times Dr. Sachdeva has received Liberia’s highest honors.
On July 26, 2011, Mr. Sachdeva was conferred with Liberia’s Highest Award “Knight Grand Commander” during the country’s 164th Independence Day celebrations, by former Liberian President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
He was bestowed the country’s highest honor for his outstanding contribution to the socio-economic development, recovery and reconstruction of Liberia after the civil war.
“Jeety” earned the distinction of being the FIRST INDIAN in the history of African Countries to have got the highest award.
At the time, Madam Sirleaf made special reference to Mr. Sachdeva’s efforts in forging friendship between Liberia and India and his enormous contribution to the growth of Liberia’s commercial sector.
Earlier in January 2011 President Pratibha Patil also honoured Mr. Sachdeva with the PRAVASI BHARTIYA AWARD for enhancing India’s global image.
He made India proud when on Jan 10, 2016 he was appointed as Head/Dean of the Consular Corps (Group of Ambassadors) in Liberia, by the Government of the Republic of Liberia, through its ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The appointment was based upon precedence of appointment as between Head of Consular Post, in accordance with article 16 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of April 24, 1963 and Mr. Sachdeva was informed about this appointment through a letter signed by the Acting Chief of Protocol of the Republic of Liberia
As Mr. Sachdeva departs from diplomatic service, Liberians and others will miss a Diplomat turned a traditional friend and a true humanitarian who continue to combat against hunger and poverty in the nation.