Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday visited Rweru model village in Rwanda’s eastern province and gifted 200 cows as India’s contribution to President Paul Kagame’s flagship “Girinka” programme. Modi, who is on the first leg of his five-day, three-nation visit, gifted the cows — all sourced locally — in the small, land-locked east African country.
Officials said the cattle are sourced locally since they are adapted to the natural surroundings of the region, The Indian Express reported on July 17. BJP’s official Twitter handle shared some pictures of the PM from the event at the Rwandan village that also saw the presence of President Paul Kagame.
PM @narendramodi donates 200 cows under Girinka scheme – One Cow per Poor Family Programme at Rweru village in Rwanda. Rwandan President @PaulKagame also joined the event. Here are few pictures from the event. https://t.co/IckANnvERo pic.twitter.com/sYJ3N0Wn5r
— BJP (@BJP4India) July 24, 2018
Girinka is the Rwandan government’s “one cow for one poor family” programme, launched in 2006. The government claims the scheme has benefited nearly 3.5 lakh families so far. The social protection scheme is personally overseen by Kagame. As part of the programme, the poorest families are gifted dairy cows by the government and the first female calf born of that cow is gifted to the neighbour, aimed at promoting brotherhood and solidarity in the community.
External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar also tweeted: “Being part of a transformative project towards economic development of Rwanda!”
“PM @narendramodi donates 200 cows under #Girinka – One Cow Per Poor Family Programme at Rweru village. Girinka is an ambitious project that provides both nutritional & financial security to the poor,” Kumar said in a tweet.
Being part of a transformative project towards economic development of Rwanda! PM @narendramodi donates 200 cows under #Girinka – One Cow per Poor Family Programme at Rweru village. Girinka is an ambitious projects that provides both nutritional & financial security to the poor. pic.twitter.com/bXOKbOnd9g
— Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) July 24, 2018
Ministry of External Affairs’ Secretary (Economic Relations) T S Tirumurti, who worked on the specifics of the Rwanda visit, had called this an “important element” of the PM’s programme. The word Girinka can be translated as “have a cow” and describes a centuries-old cultural practice in Rwanda, whereby a cow was gifted by one person to another, either as a sign of respect or as dowry in marriage.
Earlier in the day, Modi also paid a visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial and expressed India’s gratitude to the Rwandan people, and acknowledged that during the genocide of 1994, no Indian was killed or injured. The memorial honors the memory of over one million Tutsis killed by the then Hutu majority government in 1994. “The gifting of cows is not just an economic contribution, but also an expression of India’s gratitude to Rwanda for treating Indian community well,” an official had said.
Modi’s three-nation tour of Africa will also take him to Uganda and South Africa. This is his second visit to mainland Africa after he visited Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya in 2016.
Meanwhile, India and Rwanda signed eight agreements, including in the areas of defence, agriculture and dairy production, trade and leather and allied sectors. The agreements were signed after delegation-level talks with Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
In what can be seen as yet another manifestation of India’s increasing engagements with Africa, the PM has also announced that India will open a new High Commission in Rwanda. India’s current High Commissioner to Rwanda has a residence in Uganda.