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India loosing influence in Mauritius
The small island Republic of Mauritius shall be celebrating its 45th independence on the 12th of March. The President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee shall be the chief guest.

The Indian majority Republic has travelled a long road since 1832 when the first shipment of contractual labourers comprising mostly hill coolies from the erstwhile United Provinces reached the island sailing from Calcutta (now Kolkata). The island was then under British rule but with a French oligarchy controlling the economy (till date), who have grown from strength to strength with interests beyond the shores of Mauritius including India as well.

Significant number of Indian labourers and their children have succeeded on the economic front in their new settlement in Mauritius through hard and sorrowful, tortured labour toiling from early morning before the first appearance of light in the sky to late after sunset in the sugar fields, turning the rocks and boulders, hand burrowing the land to plant the cane on meagre rationed diet. Others are still struggling after about two centuries.

The colonial masters have disappeared at the political level. They have been replaced by their own people who have grabbed political power, albeit democratically. They have engendered their own oligarchy and dynastic tribes, à la Nehru of mother India. The Indians have cornered the political power due to their numerical strength, comprising about 70% of the total population, leaving the economic wealth in the hands of the whites, the historical owners and masters still growing from strength to strength, with some members of Indian political oligarchy as wealthy as the colonial barons!

Mauritius, though, a vibrant democracy is but highly compartmentalized on communal, racist, ethnic, religious and casteist lines inherited from mother India. The current recriminating issue of the proposed coal-based electricity producing power unit apparently promoted by a member of the Indian diasporas from Malaysia is provoking lots of passions and reactions and with mutual accusations of communal prejudice.

In the pre- and early post independent Mauritius, the Indians were choosing India for further and University studies who upon return dominated both the political parties and the civil service along with the fortunate ones who obtained their education in the United Kingdom, influenced by the Indian National Congress in Britain where Sir Seewoosagar Ramgoolam, (the father of the current Prime Minister Dr Navin Ramgoolam), the first Prime Minister of Mauritius was not only studying medicine but rubbing shoulders with the Indian nationalists and stalwarts .

In those days the Mauritian Indians whether Hindus or Muslims studying in Great Britain were Indians not only in blood and colour, but in taste, in opinions, in morals and in intellect, unlike those of today who are very western in taste, in opinions, in morals and in intellect as well! The political leadership used to look to New Delhi in many areas from foreign policy to …!

Today, the Indo Mauritians are largely choosing western educational institutions and becoming western in taste, in opinions in morals and in intellect!

This change in attitude has shifted the focus of the indo Mauritian politician and civil servant from an India obsession to look towards other political capitals for economic and other advancement of the nation and the island.

France always had a particular interest in the island although they yielded the sovereignty in 1810 to the British after the invasion mounted from India with Indian sepoys in her Majesty’s Army. The vernacular vehicle of communication is broken French akin to Bhojpuri. Almost every sphere of life is French influenced with a sizeable number of Indo Mauritians having settled in France beside Great Britain.

In seventies, France‘s interest to set up a military base on the south of island led the rightwing leader Sir Gàetan Duval of mixed blood comprising south Indian and African ancestry in the coalition government of post independent Mauritius to be revoked by the then Prime Minister Sir Seewoosagar Ramgoolam.

All things said it would seem that India lacks vision and has a very poor assessment of the times and the mutual interests of both Mauritius and India which are obviously not the same as of about half a century ago. South Block needs to review its posting in Port Louis, Mauritius. If India does not want to lose out to other capitals there must be a total reversal of its policy and posting of diplomats who can monitor, assess the needs of both the capitals rather than gloried ones sitting in the office overlooking the sea port.

A high Indian calibre man is a must! One who can freely interact with local population without too much of protocols!

The Chinese who have already encircled India, claiming northern parts, stapling visas on Indian citizens from disputed areas visiting China, now building dams to starve the Indians from Brahmaputra with highways to Pakistan already a physical reality, through Indian disputed territory with Islamabad, has already acquired exclusive economic zones in Port Louis beside Sri Lanka all squeezing and stifling India in this part of the Indian ocean.

The multi-billion Tianli Development project of Riche Terre has been qualified by the Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam as the biggest integrated project ever to have been developed in Mauritius. It is an industrial integrated project surrounded by secrecy .The industrial projects will be particularly oriented to high-end value added industries and a school of technology which will provide training and solutions to manpower problems.

By so doing the Chinese have acquired free sea rights in the Indian Ocean.

Where are Indians?

To compound things, New Delhi requires Mauritians to obtain a visa entry to visit India. The Indo Mauritian is as well required to show proof of finance back up to support himself in the land of his origin.

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