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Remarks by High Commission on GOPIO Event

GOPIO EVENT 28 Oct 2021

Hon. Prime Minister of the Republic of Mauritius Mr. Pravind Kumar Jugnauth,

Hon. Mr.Mookhesswur Choonee, Former Minister and High Commissioner of Mauritius to India and Chairperson of GOPIO international,

Distinguished Members of GOPIO,

All dignitaries present today,

Members of the Media,

Dear friends,

First of all I thank Gopio and Hon Chooneeji and his team for having invited me for this event. Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) is not just one of the most important diaspora organizations for India but also one of the biggest diaspora organisations anywhere in the world.  Itwas founded in New York in 1989 and when I was handling the United States and Canada desk at our Foreign Ministry in Delhi, I saw from close quarters, the key role played by GOPIO not just in strengthening India-US relations but also in strengthening the role and relevance of the Indian diaspora as a key partner in India’s growth and development as well as in strengthening ties between India and the huge Indian diaspora abroad.

LARGEST: India has the largest overseas diaspora in the world and the highest number of people migrating abroad every year. There are more than 30 million Indians living overseas, which is more than the populations of many countries in the world. Every year, more than 2.5 million Indians migrate overseas. I think that this number will only grow further as the birth rate in several countries in the world continues to decline and India’s young demographic dividend increasingly supplies the required workforce to the whole world. A logical corollary of this would be that GOPIO’s profile and role worldwide will also grow bigger and its importance to India and the world will also grow bigger.

Contributions:As many of you already know, the Indian diaspora does not only propagatesIndian culture and Indian values abroad; it is a strong contributor to the Indian economy too. India is the world's top receiver of remittances, accounting for more than 12% of the world's remittances. India's remittances in 2020 reached over $83 billion, despite a pandemic. Remittances are just one facet; the Indian diaspora is also one of the richest in the world and invests substantially into India; it is also one of the smartest and has helped bring in the latest technologies and skills. In the domain of politics too, the Indian diaspora has made its motherland proud. Our Chief Guest today H.E. the Hon’ble Prime Minister is himself a shining example of the leadership positions in which the Indian diaspora is all over the world. Portugal, the country I served in as Ambassador for 4 and a half years before coming here is another such example with an Indian-origin Prime Minster leading the country. The Indian diaspora is in fact, represented in the Cabinets of most democracies in the world today, where they have been given opportunities to rise up the political ladder.As the Canadian Prime Minister Mr. Justin Trudeau famously told our Prime Minister when he met him: “My Cabinet has more Sardarjis than yours”! Not just politics, they also contribute substantially to the economies and societies of their adopted countries. For e.g., I am told that the Indian diaspora in UK is only 1.8% of the total population of UK, but it contributes almost 6% of the total GDP of UK. What I am proud of most, is that the Indian origin community carries with it the Indian ethos of “VASUDAIVA KUTUMBAKAM”, of tolerance, pluralism and assimilation and has always been viewed as an asset for the community – as people who abide by the law, who assimilate into the local culture while preserving their Indianness, who work hard and contribute to the country. 


And so, I am honoured and delighted to be amidst all of you today  - in national terms, I think you represent India’s biggest and oldest diaspora. A diaspora that built an entire country with its hard work, wisdom and leadership.  A diaspora that has made Mauritius the Paradise Island that it is today.  I salute each one of you for making Bharat Mata proud and every Indian proud of what you have achieved here in Mauritius!

In Mauritius, I am told that GOPIO has done impressive work. Since 2003,GOPIO has been organising a flagship event called thePIO Dialogue with India, which is attended by hundreds of delegates from around the world.It was started by the late Sh Baleshwar Agarwal Ji from ARSP, Gopio India and late Sh Dhundev Bahadoor of Gopio Mauritius. Very importantly, GOPIO Mauritius, has been instrumental in connecting the French speaking Indian diaspora with India. I am told that theLate Shri MahendraUtchanah played an important role in this and since 2009 GOPIO has been hosting the Gopio Francophone Summit where Girmitiyas from Overseas French territories like Reunion, Guadeloupe etc renew their connections with India. GOPIO also co-organized the6th Regional PravasiBharatiya Divas in Mauritius in 2012and in 2017,GOPIO had organized an International Conference in Mauritius to mark the 100 years of the Abolition of Indentured labour in Mauritius and the World, the 70th Anniversary of the independence of India and the 50th Anniversary of the Independence of Mauritius. I am told that almost 75 foreign and 500 local delegates participated at the Indira Gandhi Centre for Indian Culture (IGCIC). Every year,GOPIO celebratesoccasions like Gandhi Jayanti and the Aapravasi Divas.

FUTURE PLANS of GOPIO: Amb.Choonee has unveiled a new Strategic plan for the forthcoming years.I am very happy to hear these exciting and promising initiatives. I am particularly glad that GOPIO plans to anchor the Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas (PBD) 2022 in Mauritius in collaboration with various other socio cultural organizations and High Commission of India.  I think it is absolutely apt that GOPIO plays this overarching, umbrella role as the Indian diaspora organization. You can count on our support in ensuring that it is celebrated in a befitting way. We will work with you on this and all other initiatives where we can be of assistance.

In addition to the proposed activities, given the impressive resources and the vast global network of high net worth Indians in every sector of activity worldwide, I would request GOPIO to consider a few focused initiatives that could be added to its work program, for the mutual benefit of Mauritius and India. For instance, can GOPIO partner our High Commission and the newly set up INDIA BUSINESS COUNCIL  to identify business and economic opportunities for CECPA by liaising with GOPIO in other geographies (for instance, opportunities in the Start up sector like The Indus Entrepreneurs in the Silicon Valley in USA. Or identify opportunities at the cross section of the various FTAs that Mauritius is signatory to)? Similarly, can GOPIO take up one concrete bilateral project like the Education hub project proposed by the Government of Mauritius where Indian universities can also come and set up campuses, like the Indian Institute of Technology/ Management (IITs and IIMs) - as a hub to Africa? Can GOPIO partner us in anchoring one event under the Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations of 75 years of Indian Independence, for instance? This could be in the area of Science & Technology or Space or ICT that could encourage Mauritian students to pursue Sciences in higher education. Well known Indian diaspora names in science, business etc. like SATYA NADELLA of Google, GITA GOPINATH, the head of IMF etc. could be invited to speak. I am told that the number of students opting for the science and math stream is declining here and this could be one useful way where India can assist in generating greater interest. Similarly, I would request GOPIO to come forward and under the guidance of Ministry of Arts and Cultural heritage make a roadmap for successful implementation of ‘The Indenture Labour Route Project’. As envisaged in this project, it would bring together all countries who have experienced indenture and other forms of servitude. A collaboration on various aspects like history, culture, economy, commerce, trade etc. can do wonders for this group of almost 70 countries.

Hon. MOOKHESSWUR CHOONEE served as Minister for 14 years of which 9 as Minister of Arts and Culture.A World Heritage Champion who got inscribed ' The Indenture Labour Route Project and The Records of Indian Immigration, and Founder of the International Indenture Girmitiyas Foundation. Also High Commissioner to India accredited to Singapore, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Oman, Bangladesh and Nepal.


I wish GOPIO a very successful re-launch today and am sure that the PIOs of Mauritius as well as many other countries will immensely benefit from their endeavors. 


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