A two-day international conference, focusing on the contribution of Indian Diaspora in nation building in Mauritius, kicked off yesterday at the Mahatma Gandhi Institute in Moka. The conference is being organised as part of the Antar Rashtriya Sahayog Parishad (ARSP) India's commemoration of the centenary of the abolition of indentured system and the celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the independence of Mauritius.
The Minister Mentor, Minister of Defence and Minister of Rodrigues, Sir Anerood Jugnauth, the Minister of Arts and Culture, Mr Prithvirajsing Roopun, the President of Antar Rashtriya Sahayog Parishad (ARSP) India, Ambassador Virendra Gupta and other personalities were present at the opening ceremony.
In his keynote address, Minister Mentor highlighted that the depth, strength and uniqueness of the shared relationship between India and Mauritius is unparalleled while adding that it transcends the socio-economic and political sides and is firmly rooted in a common vision.
According to Sir Anerood Jugnauth, the unity and diversity that presently reigns in Mauritius and its people capacity to respond to emerging challenges are the results of the outstanding values such as resilience, tolerance, hard work and sacrifice transmitted to the Mauritians by their forefathers who came mainly from India under the Indentured System.
He recalled that under the colonial rule, over 2 million indentured labourers were taken amongst others to the lands of South Africa, Mauritius, Trinidad and Tobago and Fiji to address labour shortages in sugarcane plantations. He underlined that they constituted significant majorities and have played important role in nation building process thus contributing to the socio economic development of their respective countries. Some half million indentured labourers who came to Mauritius have contributed significantly to giving a new identity to the country, he said.
Sir Anerood Jugnauth further expressed his gratitude to the Government of India for its relentless support in the modernisation of Mauritius and helping the country to achieve its set of objectives.
For his part, Minister Roopun underlined that the arrival of the indentured immigrants is a major milestone in the history of Mauritius. He underpinned that through their toil, sweat, unwavering determination and their struggle for a better life, the indentured immigrants have shaped modern Mauritius and contributed in transforming the country into the star and key of the Indian Ocean.
With regard to cultural heritage, he underscored that the country is a multi ethnic one and that this multi-ethnicity must be seen as a powerful driver of social harmony and economic prosperity and used as an engine to prevent conflicts and maintain peace and unity.
Ambassador Gupta highlighted that the Indian Diaspora is making valuable contributions to the development process of the countries of the Indentured Labour Route. He stated that Mauritius was the first and largest recipient of indentured labour.
He underlined that the arrival of these brave people from India, was much more than the mere transportation of a group of labourers to an unknown land. He described it as a profound transfusion of the very pluralistic cultural values of India. This heritage is found very much alive today in Mauritius as well as the other countries on the Indentured Labour Route, he said.
According to Mr Gupta, the conference will outline the economic strength, cultural concerns and potentialities of the Indian diaspora and help in determining future possible contributions.