The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi meeting the Prime Minister of Mauritius, Mr. Pravind Jugnauth, on the sidelines of CHOGM 2018, in London on April 19, 2018.

Time for India to look again at Mauritius?

An Indian writer urges india to take a deeper look at Mauritius, its strategic location and why it could become an ‘Indian Pivot’ in the Indian Ocean!

Indian paper suggests that New Delhi discards deep-rooted perception the Island nation is simply an extension of India.

The writer in the Indian Express article says Mauritius is not just an extension of India. India calls Mauritius’Chota Bharat’.

For non-Hindi speakers, ‘Chota Bharat’ means ‘Little India’. New Delhi refers to Mauritius as such since the days of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

C. Raja Mohan reminds India that Mauritius is a sovereign entity “with a unique national culture and an international identity of its own.

He says Delhi needs to change the lens through which it sees the country.

He speaks about the diaspora with which India relates to Mauritius and certainly the strategic significance of Mauritius. India is renewing the power game in the Indian Ocean.

Mauritius is said to have granted the grand ally an Island on its own to build a ‘defence’ system. More or less it is like a miniature landmark compared to the Diego Garcia power base occupied by the Americans.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi saw Mauritius as part of India’s neighbourhood and invited its leaders to join his inauguration along with other South Asian leaders.

“It was during his visit to Mauritius in 2015 that Modi unveiled an ambitious policy called the SAGAR (security and growth for all).

“It was India’s first significant policy statement on the Indian Ocean in many decades. Delhi has some ways to go before it can translate the logic of SAGAR into effective outcomes on the ground.”

Not everything was well between Mauritius and India since 2014. But the victory of Pravind Jugnauth, though tainted with claims of electoral fraud, is seen by New Delhi as a sign.

NEW GENERATION OF LEADERS

It says to India the country has found a replacement to the elderly statesmen who were once the mighty political animals on the Island.

The defeat of the Labour Party (PTR) and the MMM of Paul Berenger in the recent poll is revealing.

And the writer is right on this point, that is India should now look at Mauritius as a matured partner.

“Its leaders are also conscious of the island’s special place in the Indian Ocean as a thriving economic hub and an attractive strategic location. Although it is quite small with just 1.3 million people, Mauritius has been punching way above its weight.”

He calls on India to explore the immense possibilities for elevating India’s strategic partnership “with an island that is looking beyond sugar plantations to financial services and technological innovation.”

The writer calls Mauritians geniuses and its location is crucial as it is is a stepping stone to multiple geographies.

He talks of new investments that are pouring into Africa. Hence Mauritius can be the fulcrum for India’s own African economic outreach.

His advice is that India should look at Mauritius as the leading nation in a collectivity of Islands.

INDIAN PIVOT?

This will make Mauritius the pivot of New Delhi’s island policy. But provided this pivot can facilitate a number of Indian commercial deals.

He suggested activities such as banking gateway, the hub for flights to and from Indian cities and tourism.

“India could also contribute to the evolution of Mauritius as a regional centre for technological innovation. India has not really responded so far to the demands from Mauritius for higher education facilities from India like the IIT.”

Besides IT and strategic involvements, he thinks climate change and sustainable development or the blue economy are challenges for Mauritius.

Henceforth, Mauritius could be the right partner in promoting Indian initiatives in these areas.

In short, he is saying India should not take Mauritius for granted and urged the creation of an office for a defence adviser in Mauritius to serve the Islands demands and that of East African states.

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