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High Commissioner's Remarks at the Reception hosted on the occasion of 74th anniversary of India's Independence


Remarks by High Commissioner Mrs. K. Nandini Singla

15th August 2021

H.E. President of the Republic of Mauritius Prithvirajsing Roopun & Mrs. Roopun,
Hon. Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth & Mrs. Jugnauth,

Hon. Vice President Cyril Marie Eddy Boissezon,
Hon. Deputy Prime Minister Steven Obeegadoo,

Hon. Speaker of the National Assembly Sooroojdev Phokeer,

Hon. Former Presidents & Prime Ministers present this evening,

Hon. Vice Prime Minister Leela Devi Dookhun Luchoomun,

Hon. Vice Prime Minister Mohammad Anwar Husnoo,

Hon. Minister for Foreign Affairs Alan Ganoo,
Other Hon. Ministers present,
Dean of the Diplomatic Corps,

Distinguished dignitaries,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good evening, Namaskar, Bonsoir!

A very warm welcome to this evening’s celebration of the 74th anniversary of India’s independence! My heartfelt thanks to each one of the dignitaries present here, for taking time out of your busy schedules to honour us with your esteemed presence.

  1. Although this year’s celebration is on a modest scale because of Covid restrictions, it is a special celebration for us, for 2 reasons – firstly, we have the privilege of welcoming you to our very first National Day celebration in our new High Commission premises in Ebene. We are proud that this building has been built entirely by Mauritian Consultants and Engineers and is located close to the iconic Atal Bihari Vajpayee Tower, one of the first buildings to be built here that helped make Ebene the bustling Cyber City and prestigious business address that it is today. I thank the Honorable Prime Minister for kindly inaugurating it with our External Affairs Minister, earlier this year. Secondly, it is a special occasion because we are launching a 2-year long commemoration of 75 years of India’s independence called AZADI KA AMRIT MAHOTSAV from now upto 15th August 2023. It may interest you to know that our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi announced this in India on the anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s Dandi March on 12th March this year – which is also the Independence Day and Republic Day of Mauritius!  So, we are looking forward to a vibrant 2-year celebration here – a celebration not only of India’s progress in 75 years from being one of the poorest countries in the world to becoming the world’s 5th largest economy; from being a colony to becoming the world’s largest democracy - India@75 will also be a celebration of our recommitment to India’s foundational ethos of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam and Sarve Janah Sukhino Bhavantu - of being a force for global peace, shared prosperity, harmony and happiness – that is why we installed an Ashoka Pillar that symbolizes these very timeless values at our Cultural Centre in Phoenix a few days ago.
  2. Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav will also be a celebration of the fraternal ties between India and Mauritius – our ties of ancestry and history that go back to even before our two countries became independent nations! In my career as an Indian diplomat, I have traditionally seen the Indian flag hoisted in our Embassy on Independence Day with the local people invited as guests; for the first time, here in Mauritius, I had the honour of raising the Indian flag as a Guest, at two beautiful Indian independence day celebrations! It was a deeply moving, emotional experience for me personally, and I felt greatly humbled and truly privileged to represent India in this very special country. 
  3. Just as thousands of Indian-origin Mauritians celebrated India’s freedom on 15th August 1947 by hoisting the Indian tricolor in Lallmatie, and similarly celebrated India’s Republic Day on 26th January 1950 at the Champ de Mars, I am happy that we are continuing this tradition – our Indian Navy Ship INS SHARDUL celebrated Mauritius’s 53rd Independence Day this year in Mauritian waters, with pomp and splendor, despite Covid!
  4. In fact, our two countries came even closer during the challenges we faced last year, as true friends do. Around this time, last year, India sent its aircrafts and Navy ships with specialized equipment and technical teams to help with the Wakashio oil spill.  Similarly, when Covid happened, India’s 400,000 vaccines helped launch Mauritius’s vaccination program on India’s Republic Day.  Today, we are very happy to see the success of the Government of Mauritius in vaccinating large numbers of people and procuring a significant number of additional vaccines from various parts of the world.  When India herself suffered a brutal wave of Covid-19, the government of Mauritius was one of the first to come to our aid by gifting 200 precious Oxygen Concentrators which saved thousands of grateful Indian lives. Excellency, Hon’ble Prime Minister, I take this opportunity to thank you and through you, the people of Mauritius, for extending a quick helping hand at our time of need and for showing every Indian that our brothers and sisters in Mauritius are always by our side – both, in our triumphs and in our adversities.
  5. Permit me here, to also convey our admiration for the commendable manner in which Mauritius, under your leadership, has emerged today, as one of the world’s most successful countries in managing the Covid pandemic, with one of the lowest death rates in the world and one of the highest vaccination rates in the African continent. Your visionary leadership seems to have managed to achieve the near impossible - protecting both Lives and Livelihoods – the dip in severe Covid cases is testimony to the success of your government’s painstaking efforts towards stringent border controls, contact tracing, quarantining and vaccinating; at the same time, the uninterrupted economic activity in key sectors like Construction and the Government’s generous Wage Assistance Schemes have protected small Mauritian businesses and prevented large-scale unemployment and social unrest, as unfortunately seen elsewhere. One such example is the Metro project which has progressed well despite Covid, with the Rose Hill - Quatre Bornes connection, inaugurated two months ago, doubling the ridership to 4.4 million.

Distinguished Guests,

  1. In the year gone by, the engagement between Mauritius and India has grown, guided by the vision of our two Prime Ministers. Our External Affairs Minister visited Mauritius in February and we signed 7 important Agreements, including India’s first-ever Trade Agreement with Africa – the CECPA. We signed a 100 Mn Dollar Line of Credit for supply of defence equipment, including a new Dornier Aircraft and an Advanced, Light Helicopter to help enhance Mauritius’s maritime security. The construction of a jetty and airstrip at Agalega with the same objective of enhancing maritime security, is also progressing apace. To the same end, the principal Mauritian National Coast Guard vessel CGS Barracuda is currently undergoing an extensive refit on a gratis basis in India, and is likely to return to Mauritius next month. India also participated in the first meeting of the Indian Ocean Commission as an Observer Member this year, to collaborate with other countries in order to advance maritime security in the region. Despite Covid, 83 Mauritian officials attended Indian training programmes and a large number of Mauritian students availed of Indian scholarships to study in India.
  2. Today, as India and Mauritius look set to turn the Covid page, we look forward to further stepping up our bilateral engagement. Despite the devastating second Covid wave in India this year which was the worst period in India’s recent history, I am happy to tell you that we received the highest Foreign Direct Investment in India’s history – a whopping 81.7 billion dollars, and our economy is making a promising recovery. We are equally happy to see the Mauritian economy’s impressive resilience - it is telling that despite the pandemic and the FATF grey-listing, Mauritius’s key economic sector – the ICT/BPO sector is booming as is the Real Estate sector. In a testimony to Mauritius’s good governance under your leadership Excellency, Mauritius continues to rank number one in Africa on important indicators like Democracy, Ease of Doing Business, Human Development Index and even Peace and Happiness! (as per the Global Peace Index and World Happiness Report 2021).
  3. Like India, Mauritius looks set to jumpstart its economy with the measured opening up of the borders, big infrastructure projects and transformative initiatives announced by the Government in the recent budget like the setting up of a Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Hub, developing a Green Energy Industry, a Digital Industry and initiatives to modernize the financial services sector like the Digital Rupee and the FSC Online Platform. As India, we are also happy to partner your visionary initiative Excellency, of setting up a pan-African stock exchange called AFRINEX which was soft-launched recently with the assistance of the Bombay Stock Exchange. To me, the Mauritian government’s far-sighted, futuristic vision is evident in the fact that Mauritius has literally touched the skies and gone beyond, with the launch of the first Mauritian satellite into space!
  4. All this good news makes me enthusiastic about the many things we can do together, including in the exciting domain of space cooperation! For instance, in the economic arena, we are looking at tapping into the enormous business opportunities opened up by CECPA and are reaching out to private sectors on both sides. An India Business Council has been set up a few days ago, for the first time in Mauritius, to play a proactive role in this. On the social side, we are very happy that 956 Social Housing Units built by India will be handed over to the government of Mauritius in a few months to help needy families.  We will also be delivering 13 fire-fighting trailers and 16 Incinerators in the coming weeks. We are greatly looking forward to starting work on new India-assisted, development projects such as the Civil Services College, the Henrietta Solar Power Plant, the National Library & Archives, the Forensic Science Laboratory and the Renal Transplant Unit.
  5. In the midst of these happy developments, there was unfortunately, a dark cloud too. Mauritius lost a father figure and India lost a dear son with the passing away of Sir Anerood Jugnauth. Every Indian mourned along with his Mauritian brother, as India declared a Day of State Mourning and every Indian flag in the world, flew at half mast, as a final salute to Padma Vibhushan Sir Anerood Jugnauth - India’s great friend and first Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awardee. The Parliament of India also paid a rich tribute to this legendary leader and observed a minute of silence in homage. In a testimony to the brotherly ties not only between our two countries but also between our leaders, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Hon’ble Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth on the phone to convey his profound condolences and sense of personal loss while also reaffirming our shared commitment to continuing Sir Anerood’s legacy. Once the Covid travel situation eases, Excellency, we hope that our leadership-level visits and close interactions will resume quickly.
  6. Finally, before I close, I wanted to mention that 2023 will not only mark the finale of our India@75 celebrations; it will also mark 75 years of diplomatic relations between India and Mauritius – 75 years of a very unique and special friendship! I am confident that together, we will make it a year to remember!






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