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St. Andrews School

St. Andrews School

20 September 2019


High Commissioner Tanmaya Lal

Hon. Bishop,

Members of the Management Committee,

Teachers and staff members,

Dear Students,

A very good morning to all of you.

I thank you for inviting me here today.

As I was coming here this morning I was thinking that it has been 37 years since I finished my schooling in Delhi. In 1982. Life was very different in many respects then. There was no internet, no mobile or smart phones.

Just thinking about this made me feel old. Therefore, I am very excited to be here today among all you young and bright minds. You are the future.

I come from India, a country which has extremely friendly relations with Mauritius.

Although India and Mauritius are very different in terms of landmass, they have very similar EEZ, or the Exclusive Economic Zone in the Ocean.

There are other similarities too.

Both India and Mauritius were ruled by others but have now made remarkable progress in the last few decades. Both our countries have a lot of diversity and both are also successful democracies.

Our countries have made progress by focusing on education. Education empowers us and makes less dependent on others. A good education not only provides us opportunities at workplace but opens up our minds and builds our personalities.


The history of Mauritius has made it one of the few countries that have so many different languages, cultures, religions and ethnicities.

It was remarkable to experience the wonderful rainbow nation that is Mauritius at the recent Indian Ocean Island Games. One could feel the vibrancy of all the Mauritians coming together.

These are great positives in the age of globalization.

The ability to speak fluently in multiple languages is one great asset that makes Mauritius well placed to act as a real Gateway to Africa for businesses.

Similarly the experience to live in a diverse society equips us to adapt much more easily to different cultures and again opens up opportunities at workplace in so many fields internationally or to work with multinationals.

This diversity also means that Mauritius has good links with three major continents Asia, Africa and Europe. Not many countries have this advantage. I am a diplomat and have lived and worked in several countries. I know this. You will also know when you travel abroad.

At a more basic level, the unique flavours of the cuisine of Mauritius blend so many different wonderful influences.

One can enjoy and play so many different rhythms and melodies and make unique sounds and graceful dances that are unique to Mauritius.

It is very interesting to also try and explore from where our different types of foods or music or cultures or languages or rituals come from, how they have evolved and influenced or interacted with each other creating new realities.

There is no monotony here. And there are always possibilities of fresh new ideas drawing upon so many different sources and traditions and create new approaches or solutions. You, the young people lead in such creativity.

We must learn to use Diversity as our strength and not let it divide us.


We study so many subjects at school. History, Geography, Economics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics. And many more.

But we must be conscious that these subjects are not completely separate. These distinctions are manmade.

The history of a country is also linked to its geography. Together history and geography tell you about the agriculture, economy and culture and arts of a place. They collectively tell us what may lie ahead.

We need to be alert to ask questions – ask why – and we will see connections. Just try and see if you can find such connections about Mauritius.

It is the same with science.

Many of the senior students may have read about the Big Bang theory. About how our universe may have begun. Scientists are still working on this.

It appears that in the beginning we started with simple atoms that made Hydrogen and Helium gases. Physicists, especially nuclear physicists study these matters.

Soon stars formed as bigger molecules and elements began to be formed and physics soon gave way to chemistry.

Gradually planets were formed with rocky structures – which are studied by geologists.

At least on our planet earth these chemical reactions and energy gave rise to cells. And biology started to take shape.

Then life – plants and then animals - evolved in the sea, and then came to land. Human beings appeared relatively recently on earth. Today, science tells us that humans across the world may have originated from Africa. They made tools, started agriculture, established civilisations. And today our industries and lifestyles are affecting the climate and our own future.

Today if we want to undertake any serious research, some basic understanding of these seemingly varied subjects and their inter-connections is required.

We must not hesitate in asking questions of our teachers, or friends or parents. It helps us become more aware of what is around us. Not only examination results but overall understanding is what is important.

Today we live in fast changing times. It requires constant learning and an open positive attitude.


Education and research has helped India harness nuclear power; launch probes to the Moon and Mars; do research on Arctic and Antarctic; join the leaders in IT and software development; in solar energy and many more fields.

It is good to see also how the people and government of Mauritius place importance on good education. Education is the basis on which the economy of Mauritius has made so much progress and today Mauritius tops various rankings not only in Africa but fares better vis-à-vis many other countries.

Education is the building block that allows us to develop as a person and as a country. A good education also means respect for teachers and parents, and pride in one’s culture and nation and tolerance and empathy for others.

Dear students,

When I finished schooling nearly four decades ago, our long distance communication was with phones, which very few people had in India. Today we are always connected by internet to the world.

But we must try and not lose touch with our immediate surroundings – family, and friends. And the environment. For our own sake.

I wish all of you students the very best in your studies and lives ahead of you. Make all efforts to become good individuals.

Thank you.


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