An online Inter-ministerial meeting Committee in the context of the Indentured Labour Route Project (ILRP) chaired by the Minister of Arts and Cultural Heritage, Mr Avinash Teeluck, was held, this afternoon, at the Beekrumsing Ramlallah Interpretation Centre, Port Louis.
This first Inter-ministerial meeting organised by the Republic of Mauritius saw the participation of 11 Ministers in charge of arts, culture and heritage from various countries where indentured labourers established permanently. The Prime Minister, Mr Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, also intervened during the meeting.
The objective of the meeting was to exchange views on the implementation of the ILRP in the different countries and on the creation of an international database gathering historical testimonies, especially archives, related to the history of indentured labour.
Several presentations were made during the meeting, namely: the ILRP, the International Indentured Labour Database, and the cultural perspective on the legacy of indentured diaspora in various countries.
On the same occasion, the International Indentured Labour Database Project was launched. The project aims to reconstruct migration history by using modern technology which will facilitate the study of demographic history of the population.
In his message, the Prime Minister, Mr Pravind Jugnauth, recalled that the Aapravasi Ghat Trust Fund has been engaged since 2004 in the setting up of the ILRP. He added that the UNESCO supported the initiative of Mauritius to set up the ILRP when Mauritius presented the project to the UNESCO at its 195th session held in Paris in October 2014.
The project, he said, is steered by an International Scientific Committee including professionals in various fields and in October 2017, the Committee met for the first time to establish a plan of action listing activities and projects with the view to research and promote indenture. He underlined that the Committee which comprises 20 members from 14 countries has also developed an Action Plan 2021-2023 in a bid to raise awareness about the history of Indentured Labour.
Lauding the project, Prime Minister Jugnauth reaffirmed the need for indentured labour experience to be better known across the world. Through the project, he stated, a network of persons and institutions across the indentured diaspora will be created and this will contribute to nation building efforts and to a greater understanding among peoples and societies within the indentured diaspora and the countries themselves.
The Minister of Arts and Cultural Heritage, Mr Avinash Teeluck, for his part, recalled that the Aapravasi Ghat is a place where indentured labourers set foot to write a new page in the history of Mauritius.
Speaking about the ILRP, he underlined that the Government of Mauritius has taken the initiative to give a new impetus to the project with a Secretariat based in Mauritius. The project, he added, is steered by an International Scientific Committee comprising scholars and scientists.
He further underlined the need to set up National Committees and announced that the Government of Mauritius has approved the setting up of a National Committee on the Labour Route Project which will comprise scholars, members of government, and civil society. Government, he emphasised, has at heart the development of the ILRP and the setting up of the National Committee will further help to attain the goals of this highly symbolic project.
Minister Teeluck also added that it would be an achievement to develop a database on labour migration where each citizen could disseminate their routes.
The Indentured Labour Route Project
The ILRP is steered by an International Scientific Committee including professionals in various fields such as history, anthropology, archaeology, and heritage.
In October 2017, the International Scientific Committee met for the first time to establish a plan of action listing activities and projects with the view to research and promote indenture.
The aim of the ILRP is to bring together all countries having experienced the migration of indenture and other forms of contract labour in the 19th and mid-20th centuries.
It strives to contribute to nation building efforts and to a greater understanding among peoples and societies across the indentured diaspora as well as within the countries themselves.
The Mauritius National Committee and the Aapravasi Ghat Trust Fund would be responsible for working with the Government, civil society, academic institutions and other interested organisations on the planning and implementation of the Indentured Labour Route Project in Mauritius.