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14th Anniversary Inscription of AapravasiGhat as World Heritage

14th Anniversary

Inscription of AapravasiGhat as World Heritage 

16 July 2020

Remarks by High Commissioner Tanmaya Lal

 

Hon. Minister for Arts & Cultural Heritage, Shri AvinashTeeluckJi

Lord Mayor Mr.Mahfooz Moussa Cadersaib

Chairman of the AapravasiGhat Trust Fund, Shri DharamYashDeoDhuny Ji

Officer in charge Mr. Ramoutar

Distinguished guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

 I thank the AGTF for organizing this special event that commemorates the inscription of the AapravasiGhat as World Heritage by the UNESCO 14 years ago in 2006.

May I also compliment the AGTF experts & staff who have just made presentation on the excellent conservation and awareness programmes that are being undertaken here.

This solemn place symbolizes a phase of the 19th century global history that had profound implications for millions of migrants who left their homes to travel thousands of miles across the oceans to land on distant unknown shores to take up completely new lives, at a time when there was little possibility of communication with families and friends left behind.

This migration had huge implications also for their successive generations. It also transformed the histories and economies of the remote islands which these migrants made their home and where lived and toiled for more than a century.

The arrival of indentured workers, mostly from India, carrying precious little except for memories of the customs, faiths and traditions of their homeland, marks the most important phase in the history of Mauritius.

The ongoing story of these workers and their families is intimately linked to the story of Mauritius.

Their immense sacrifice and determination to not only survive against all odds but also to improve their own condition and that of their younger generations, at a time when they were completely subjugated, and their subsequent contribution to gaining independence and guide the collective destiny of their nationis a truly inspirational story.

Human history has been one of migrations in different forms and under different circumstances. 

Both our countries and our peoples are living examples of this. Our connect goes back to the difficult colonial times. Despite our hardships and struggles, today, both our nations have marched ahead with their destinies being shaped by their industrious peoples. 

Despite our unique experiences of development and nation building, our peoples have retained close familial and cultural and spiritual linkages, and this forms the bedrock of the very special relationship between Mauritius and India. 

This is a relationship that is so unique that it is difficult to imagine any other comparable relationship between two nations.

Our nations stand transformed today through the hard work of their citizens. Both our countries also draw their strength from their immense diversity.

It is remarkable to see how the people of Mauritius tracing their origins to distant lands and geographies have sustained their cultural roots, languages, faiths and beliefs and cuisines even as they have also assimilated these different threads to weave a beautiful new fabric.

Knowing and understanding one’s roots is a fundamental underlying desire among all peoples. Not only at the individual and family level but also at a broader level of the society and a nation.

It is, therefore, important to make this history of migration into Mauritius available to the younger generations and also the wider society and indeed the world to enable a better appreciation of the times gone by; understand the economic and other forces that drove those past developments; to learn from our past; and to provide a context to contemporary developments and progress.

I complement the Government of Mauritius and especially the Ministry of Arts and Cultural Heritage for their continuing support to efforts to sustain the collective cultural heritage of the peoples of this wonderful diverse rainbow nation.

I also complement the ApravasiGhat Trust Fund and all the historians, experts and other specialists and leaders who have worked on preserving this historic site and creating a wonderful and informative museum.

India is proud to be associated with this unique venture.

At a personal level, may I say that among the large number of museums, both large and small, that I have had the opportunity to visit across a number of countries, I can say that this place holds a very special and emotional place among all those institutions.

Today as the visitors retrace these 16 iconic steps, it touches their heart as they try and imagine the myriad emotions of the hundreds of thousands of workers who reached these shores on sailing ships, and climbed these steps to commence a new life here on Mauritius island.

To conclude, I would like to say that the AapravasiGhat retains a special place today not only for those whose ancestors climbed this Ghat to first arrive in Mauritius but also a symbol of a bygone colonial era and an exploitative economic model.

It is fitting that the international community at the United Nations recognized this as our collective World Heritage to remind us of those times and circumstances.

Thank you

                                                                        

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