International Affairs


Your Excellency Mr. Cassam Uteem,

President of the Republic of Mauritius and Madam Uteem,

The Rt Hon’ble Sir Aneerood Jugnauth,

Prime Minister of the Republic of Mauritius and Lady Jugnauth

Distinguished Ministers and Parliamentarians

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are deeply honoured to be with you and Mrs. Uteem on this historic occasion. It is a privilege for me, my wife and my delegation to be here on this beautiful island, and to join all my Mauritian brothers and sisters in celebrating the Independence Day of your great nation. On this occasion I recall the opportunity I had of attending the first Republic Day Celebrations of Mauritius in 1992 on the personal invitation of Sir Veerasamy Ringadoo. May I say, Mr. President, that from the moment of our arrival, we have been enveloped in a warmth and affection that truly symbolizes our age-old, special and unique bonds. It is only natural, therefore, that I bring with me today, in overflowing measure, the love and good wishes of the people of India.

It is almost exactly a century since Gandhiji visited your great country. The torch of political awakening lit by him in those fateful days has guided both our peoples to aspire for political independence and economic emancipation. The message of Gandhiji shone like a beacon, and Sir Sewoosagar Ramgoolam, the Father of the Mauritian nation, did us proud by choosing the day of the Dandi March as the day that Mauritius awoke to freedom. Your late poet, Somduth Bhuckory has so aptly summed up the intertwining destinies of our nations, when he wrote:

Barah (12) march ko aaya, pandrah (15) agast hamara

[On March 12 has dawned, our own 15th August]

Excellency, we in India rejoice at your success in building a prosperous country, a peaceful society and a vibrant democratic polity. As we celebrate these achievements together, allow me to pay tribute to those great Mauritian sons and daughters, including the Bisoondoyal brothers, Sookdeo and Basdeo, Sir Sewoosagar Ramgoolam and my good friend, the late Sir Veerasamy Ringadoo, who laid the foundations of a modern nation.

Your Excellency, India and Mauritius are bound together by a shared history, close ties of kinship and a common vision for a better world. We have both striven to build a society that is multiracial, multi-religious and multilingual. Mauritius, like India, has a diverse social spectrum imbued with an abiding sense of unity. We revel in the colourful diversity of our heritage, and are happy that the rich hues of Africa, Asia and Europe have blended so harmoniously in Mauritius. We are firm in our conviction that the unity of our nations can only be secured by encouraging the creative genius of all our peoples. It is precisely for this reason that we must be ever vigilant against forces that divide in the name of religion, language or culture.

Mr. President, India and Mauritius share the Indian Ocean. It does not separate us. It brings us together. A common civilization and the shared experiences of history bind us together. They were brave and adventurous Indians, who came ashore seeking a better future. It is gratifying that the country they have built with their blood, sweat and tears stands out as a shining example of the triumph of the human spirit over adversity, subjugation and injustice.

We attach great significance to our relations with Mauritius. Our traditional ties, our commitment to secularism, our belief in democracy and our nation-building aspirations are in the process of being given a qualitatively new dimension. The recent visit of Prime Minister Sir Aneerood Jugnauth to India has set in motion a strategic partnership in new and modern technologies which will secure the future of our coming generations. I am proud that we will together build the first cyber city on this island. I am confident that this will be our century.

Excellency, our two countries have co-operated closely in the international arena on the basis of a common commitment to shared values and principles. This interaction reflects an identity of views on important global issues of mutual concern. We believe that peace is a prerequisite for progress. But rivalries, not of our making, exist in our region and elsewhere too. They impinge upon our prosperity and impede our development. It is imperative that, for a better tomorrow, interaction among nations be based on coexistence not conflict, co-operation not confrontation, concord not coercion.

It is a matter of abiding satisfaction to us that Africa owes much to deft Mauritian diplomacy. The membership of the United Nations Security Council, a growing role in SADC (Southern African Development Community), and the chairpersonship of COMESA (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa) and the Indian Ocean Commission, has given Mauritius her rightful place in the international arena. We greatly admire the courage of your convictions. We are firmly with you when you seek the restoration of your sovereign right over your own soil in the Chagos Archipelago. I take this opportunity to once again reiterate that the security and sovereignty of Mauritius is of paramount importance to us. You will never find India wanting in this regard.

Mr. President, we recently witnessed death and destruction in Gujarat. It was a natural disaster, quite unprecedented in the scale of its devastation. The Mauritian government has taken tremendous initiatives to mobilise relief. I would like to place on record my heartfelt gratitude for this great humanitarian endeavour. It is an act of solidarity which the Government and people of India will never forget.

Your Excellency, on behalf of myself, and my wife, and my delegation, I profoundly thank you and the people of Mauritius for the warmth of their welcome and their gracious hospitality. May this Independence Day bring forth greater prosperity and happiness to your country and people and may the friendship between our two countries continue to grow from strength to strength

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, may I request you to join me in raising a toast:

to the health and happiness of H.E. Mr. Cassam Uteem, President of the Republic of Mauritius and Mrs. Uteem; and
to the everlasting peace, prosperity, happiness and well being of the people of Mauritius.
to the friendship and solidarity of our peoples.

Thank you

Jai Hind