November 1, 2017

India-Mauritius Relationship: An Enduring Friendship

Our sincere felicitations to Shri Pravind Jugnauth,the Hon’ble Prime Minister of Mauritius on his assumption of the august office of the Prime Minister of Mauritius since January 2017. We are happy that he had chosen India for his first visit abroad after taking over as the Prime Minister. Such visits assume significance as they strengthen the special bilateral relationship between India and Mauritius.

Eminent thinker Mark Twain has once said about Mauritius, “You gather the idea that Mauritius was made first, and then heaven, and that heaven was copied after Mauritius.”  Mauritius is a very beautiful country. The Diaspora linkages between Mauritius and India are amongst the strongest so much so that Indian Ocean does not separate us but actually connects us. Our relationship is growing from strength to strength as the years go by. Mauritius enjoys the unbound love, unlimited affection and unconditional support of India and this is a sentiment that cuts across party lines. I am sure the feeling is mutual and the same love exists on Mauritian side also.

India-Mauritius relations are not based on regional geo-polity but their foundation lies in strong social and cultural bonds, historical traditions and our shared rich heritage. The people who went to Mauritius from India took their language, customs, traditions, religious beliefs with them to their new abode. As a result our ties are deep rooted and identities so common that culturally we cannot be separated from each other.

The brief stopover by Mahatma Gandhi en route to India from South Africa in 1901 is still etched in the consciousness of Mauritius. The visit of Barrister Manilal Doctor in 1907 on the suggestions of Gandhiji helped the Mauritian Indian community to organize themselves and laid the foundation of the struggle for political and social rights. As a tribute to Gandhiji and the Indian freedom struggle, the national day of Mauritius is celebrated on March 12 (the day Dandi March was started by Gandhi ji.). It is an excellent gesture on the part of Mauritius to honour Gandhiji’s work and influence.

The Indian Diaspora, today, has grown into an energetic and confident community of over 30 million that has given India a presence in all the continents of the world. It makes all Indians proud when the overseas Indian community is recognized for its work culture, discipline, social values and capacity to integrate successfully with the local community and respect their traditions.

Since 1948, diplomatic relations between India and Mauritius have continually deepened and today they touch diverse areas of cooperation. The rich bilateral relations could be seen from our wide range of agreements and MoUs which include vivid areas including taxation, Air Services, science and technology, tourism, environment, traditional system of medicine, among others. It is a matter of satisfaction that India is largest trading partner of Mauritius and has been the largest exporter of goods and services to Mauritius since 2007. India and Mauritius also enjoy close cultural and educational ties. India is one among the most favourite destinations of Mauritian students for higher education. It is also encouraging to note that several Indian educational institutions have also started functioning in Mauritius.

We recall how Mauritius had made great strides in economic development by a set of sound policies since the times of Sir Anerood Jugnauth. He has been a friend of India who rendered continued support for India’s causes and concerns and was instrumental in strengthening our relations, particularly in creating technology-based projects. Today, we are confident that the Hon. Prime Minister will carry forward that vision and the Mauritian economy will receive further growth and all round development under his able and dynamic leadership.

We all appreciate President Dr Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, the first woman elected President of Mauritius, for her work in the areas of biodiversity, traditional medicine and development of small and medium enterprises. In Indore and Maheshwar, I have also made an effort to connect traditional medicines with learning of Sanskrit text.

Today the concept of Blue Economy as part of the framework of Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) is emerging as a new narrative on productive and sustainable engagement with the vast development opportunities that oceanic resources offer.  Blue Economy has great potential for sustainable development, particularly from the point of view of the Sustainable Development Goals. The words of our Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi echo the national sentiment that “the Blue Chakra – or the wheel – in our National Flag, represents the potential of the Blue Economy”.

Another point that needs to be highlighted is that of Asia-Africa Growth Corridor that our Prime Minister alluded to while inaugurating the recent Annual meeting of the African Development Bank in Ahmedabad.  I am sure India and Mauritius can explore the possibilities of working together for achievements of the goals envisaged in the AAGC.

Under the able leadership of Shri Pravind Jugnauth and mentorship of Shri Anerood Jugnauth Mauritius will prosper with dynamism, modernity and witness all-round development.

*This article is a summary of the speech delivered by Smt. Sumitra Mahajan, Speaker of  Lok Sabha at

the civic reception in honour of Shri  Pravind Jugnauth, Prime Minister of Mauritius,

hosted by India Foundation at New Delhi on 27th May, 2017.

(This article is carried in the print edition of November-December 2017 issue of India Foundation Journal.)


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