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Farewell Reception

Farewell Reception
19 November 2020

Remarks by High Commissioner

H.E. President of the Republic of Mauritius

Hon. Prime Minister

H.E. Vice President

Hon. Deputy Prime Minister

Hon. Speaker of the National Assembly

Former President Sir Anerood Jugnauth

Hon. Ministers present

Hon. Leader of Opposition

My Diplomat colleagues

Distinguished guests

Members of Media

A very warm welcome to all of you.

We are most grateful for your gracious presence this evening as we approach the end of my assignment.

It is always a special privilege for any Indian diplomat to serve in Mauritius, and I am fortunate to have had this opportunity.

While I had briefly worked with Mauritian colleagues in Delhi and in New York, that does not at all prepare one for the amazing journey that lay ahead.

These two years have been intense. And memorable.

I would not like to dwell on most of the official engagements, but may I seek your indulgence and share some of the moments, which I will especially treasure.

It has been an absolutely unique experience to be in Mauritius this year, and to live the extraordinary success achieved by the Government and people in keeping Mauritius CovidSafe, an envy of most other places currently.

A few months back during the lockdown, it was a surreal experience to spend long hours at the virtually empty airport to coordinate repatriation, and sometimes at the port for various logistical arrangements.

Besides sometimes coordinating rations for stranded Indian interns, a new work experience was recording video messages with makeshift in-house arrangements. 

The lockdown allowed one to become more familiar with some of the other residents and visitors at the India House – the beautiful Fodys and Bulbuls, parrots and geckos, and to explore the bountiful tropical biodiversity within that compound.

On a different note, last year, it was exciting to watch some keenly contested matches – from badminton to boxing to rugby – and to root for Mauritian athletes at the Indian Ocean Island Games. Of course, we also had our day at the famous Races, in the remarkable setting of Champ de Mars, alongwith thousands of knowledgeable, anxious and loudly cheering enthusiasts.

Last year on a sunny day, I was startled to learn that my wife Sumita had volunteered to execute what-is-known as the Jackstay maneuver somewhere over the Indian Ocean. It involved crossing between two ships traveling at 20 kmph, 35m apart over a 2 km deep Ocean via a connecting line. While we can safely report that everything went as per plan, in future we would be far more tactful when presented with such invitations.  

Excellencies, Friends,

It has been stimulating to interact with young and bright minds at several schools, and Colleges, Science and Vocational Training Centres, research institutions, on naval ships and a Convocation ceremony !

A special pleasure has been to watch and listen to the beautiful music and dance forms presented by the hugely talented Mauritian artistes, who bring together various threads and create uniquely magical performances, be it Jazz or Sega or Geet Gawai or Bharatanatyam or Kuchipuri or Kathak or Qawwali or a fusion of these.

Celebrating Yoga Day with thousands of Yogis from across the island at the SVICC last year was wonderful. And this year to listen to the inspiring remarks of several Hon. Ministers on their experience with Yoga.

Excellencies, Friends,

I remember the day we arrived, we first drove to Ganga Talao for a Darshan of the sacred lake.

On our way back, we went looking for Dhollpuri at what looked like a popular roadside dhaba. It certainly did not disappoint.

We have greatly enjoyed the Mauritian cuisine. Coming from a land-locked Delhi, I have now started to appreciate seafood a little more. We have, of course, also acquired the taste of additional chilies to go with the food.

Another highlight was a walking tour in Port Louis on a lovely day to explore some hidden gems that speak to the amazing multi-ethnic and multi-faith identity and history of this country. These are embedded at every corner in the little foodstalls, bazaars & market places, road names, places of worship, architecture styles, and even graffiti.

The two Mahashivratri weeks that we have spent here have been magical. Unlike what we have experienced anywhere else. The faith of the sea of devotees and their collective rituals, their long treks and the wonderful huge kanvars, so efficiently managed - all this is to be seen to be believed.

The enthusiasm and fervor at all other festivals - from Cavadee to Eid to Christmas to Ganesh Chaturthi to Ugadi to Spring festival - is uplifting. It was also remarkable to attend the public ceremony during the visit of His Holiness the Pope last year to Mauritius.

A great moment for me and my wife came soon after our arrival, when we had the honour to accompany Hon. Prime Minister and Madam Kobita Jugnauth to the Kumbh Mela in India, the largest congregation on earth which follows a millennia old tradition.

It was also a privilege to receive Hon. Prime Minister in India last May at the Swearing-in ceremony of our Council of Ministers following the largest ever elections in the world.

Something very special, of course, has been the launch of the Metro and the ENT Hospital.

I will always remember the nervous energy and excitement of my officers and Mauritian colleagues in safely navigating the joint e-inauguration format at such a large spectacular public event. The success of that experience gave us the confidence for this year’s event at the Supreme Court Building in the same format. 

It is very heartening to see the growing usage and popularity of the Metro. For those who haven’t taken a ride yet, it is recommended highly. It is smooth ride and no other Metro offers stunning views of volcanic hills and Ocean together.

An awe-inspiring sight has been the Underwater Waterfall off the majestic Le Morne. And one of most exciting days was when some magnificent whales sailed close past us on an otherwise very wet Sunday!

We will treasure the magical experiences of watching sunrise over the Indian Ocean from Rodrigues or sunset from Flic en Flac.

We will remember weekend drives, especially on the coastal roads around this exceptionally beautiful island. And I will miss the spectacular views of the Indian Ocean on way to work !

That reminds me, I think I will also miss the love for India in the media.

On a more serious note, it has been humbling to visit the Aapravasi Ghat and Le Morne, which are world heritage sites in every sense, representing important phases in global history that had longlasting transformational impacts across the world. The iconic 16 steps at the Aapravasi Ghat, and the Le Morne landscape continue to evoke deep emotions.

Bollywood has long loved Mauritius for its beautiful locales. It has been fun to compile short video clips of iconic Bollywood songs and dances shot in Mauritius.

Many of the video clips on India-Mauritius engagement will also be available at our YouTube Channel soon.

Another interesting project has been to archive our engagement since the arrival of the first Indian Commissioner in Mauritius in September 1948, a year after our independence. And to prepare for a photo gallery at our new Mission building.

Excellencies, Friends,

I had the privilege of being the 19th High Commissioner of India, following after 8 Commissioners who served before the independence of Mauritius.

My successor Mrs. Nandini Singla will soon join as India’s first ever woman High Commissioner to Mauritius. She is a very well-regarded diplomat and you will find her a great interlocutor for taking forward our partnership.

We now move to Stockholm, an archipelago. From presently 20 deg south of equator to 60 deg north.

Almost five decades back, Stockholm had hosted the historic first UN Conference on Human Environment. It marked a turning point in the international discourse on sustainable development and climate change. India was the only other country represented at the Head of Government level, reflecting our early engagement on these issues. These remain our common challenges and require extensive international collaboration. Supporting each other remains in our collective interest.

Facilitating such partnerships by building mutual trust and understanding is an important responsibility for diplomats.

My work in Mauritius has been greatly enriching and satisfying.  

I would also like to thank all the members of the TeamIndia for their excellent contribution.

My wife Sumita and I are grateful for all the love and affection that we have received during our stay here and would love to welcome you in Stockholm or in India or anywhere else.

Mauritius is truly a mini world. It is part of our lives and we have now become part Mauritian also.

We wish Mauritius well. Jai Mauritius.

Thank you.


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