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India to soon include Mauritius in Visa on Arrival scheme
Monday November 3, 2014 7:18 PM, IANS

Visiting External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj Monday termed India's relationship with Mauritius as "truly unique and extraordinary", and said India was working on including the Indian Ocean island country in its Visa on Arrival scheme.

Speaking at the inauguration of the International Conference on Indentured Labour Route Project in Port Louis, Sushma Swaraj said Mauritius was the first and largest recipient of indentured labour from India.

She termed the Aapravasi Ghat, a former immigration depot that is now a World Heritage Site, "a spiritual and emotional shrine to the memory of these brave souls".

"Over 2.2 million indentured labourers, mostly from India, moved to more than two dozen different destinations worldwide. Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, Jamaica, Reunion Islands, Fiji, East Africa, Seychelles, all received Indian indentured labour," she said.

"These early 'Girmitiyas' forged and shaped the destinies of their new homelands through their hard work and perseverance. Today, their descendants continue to make sterling contributions to modern society in all conceivable fields, embodying the ideals of their ancestors."

Sushma Swaraj congratulated the Mauritius government and the Aapravasi Ghat Trust Fund for their initiative to launch the Indentured Labour Route Project, and assured full support to the initiative from the Indian government.

She said India was very proud of its diaspora and believes it has much more to contribute to the building of modern India.

The government was working on inclusion of Mauritius in the next group of countries to be included in the Visa on Arrival scheme, she said.

Earlier, addressing a business meet at Cyber City, she said India takes "great pride in having been a steadfast partner of Mauritius in every step of this journey.

"And I want to unequivocally reassure you that the new government of India is committed to remain the partner of choice for Mauritius in future also."

She said the "unique relations between India and Mauritius" were based on shared historical and cultural heritage and that India "accords immense importance to these privileged ties, which have been taken forward in recent years with regular interaction at the highest levels".

Sushma Swaraj said this "was best demonstrated by" the participation by Mauritian Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam in the swearing-in ceremony of the Narendra Modi government on May 26.

She also invited Mauritian companies to actively consider India as a choice destination for business.

The Indian minister referred to the government's ambitious agenda for development, including 100 smart cities, revamping of railways, augmenting power generation, cleaning the Ganges, and invited Mauritian business people to "quickly seize the new opportunities unfolding in India" and "become partner in India's growth story".

She said India views its ties with Mauritius "not just through the prism of bilateral engagement but also as our gateway to the Indian Ocean region and Africa.

"Cooperation and partnership with Africa is an integral component of India's foreign policy and remains a priority of the Government of India. India has embarked on a broad-based and vibrant policy of economic interaction with the African continent."

The Indian minister is here on a three-day visit Nov 1-3.


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