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By Miguel Hernandez

A new chapter in relations between Cuba and India opened Thursday with the arrival to Havana of Indian Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Mani Shankar Aiyar.

Staff at the Indian Embassy in Cuba told Granma that it is the first official visit of an Indian sports minister to the island and that among his activities Shankar will donate equipment for playing hockey and cricket, the most popular sports in India.

India, the worlds second most populated country with 1.1 billion inhabitants, was mens world cricket champion in 1983 and mens field hockey champion in 1975.

India has obtained eight gold medals at the Olympic Games, all in mens field hockey, six in successive Olympics from 1928 to 1956, again in 1964 and most recently in 1980. In Athens 2004, shooter Rajyavar Rathore won a silver medal.

Cuba has collaborated for years with India in sports like boxing, and track and field; and with experts in training methodology and in prospect selection.

Cooperation will now reach a new height with the signing Friday of an agreement between the Ministry of Youth and Sports of India and the Cuban Sports, Recreation and Physical Education Institute, INDER.

Shankar was met at the Jose Martin International Airport in Havana by INDER vice president Angel Iglesias and Indian ambassador to Cuba, Mitra Vasisht. He then visited the Cerro Pelado School for the formation of high performance athletes.

On Friday, the Indian visitor will visit the Havana anti-doping laboratory, one of the 33 recognized by the International Olympic Committee and the World Anti-Doping Agency. Shankar will also meet with students and professors at the International School of Sports and Physical Education in the municipality of San Jose de las Lajas.

Source: Granma

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