March 19, 2018
The trip was of critical significance as Mauritius is one the largest bases of Indian origin populations out of India; Meanwhile Madagascar is a crucial maritime partner in the Indian Ocean
President Kovind inaugurated the new World Hindi Secretariat building in Mauritius, launched an early digital learning project, and laid foundation for an ENT hospital and social housing project
President Kovind was conferred the Grand Cross of the Second Class by Madagascar President Hery Rajaonarimampianina; This is the highest honour Madagascar bestows on a non-citizen
India and Madagascar exchanged two bilateral agreements – on defense cooperation and aviation cooperation; India to provide US$80.7 million credit for agriculture and mechanisation
The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, paid state visits to the island nations of Mauritius and Madagascar over March 11-15, 2018. The trip was of critical significance for India as Mauritius is one the largest bases of Indian origin populations outside India, while Madagascar is a crucial maritime partner in the Indian Ocean. President Kovind was the chief guest at the commemorative events marking the 50th anniversary of the independence of Mauritius. The trip also marked the first state visit of an Indian Head of State or Government to Madagascar. President Kovind was accompanied by First Lady Savita Kovind, and a high level delegation comprising Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, four Members of Parliament and senior Government officials. The trip provided an unique opportunity of reunion among the Indian diaspora in both the Indian Ocean nations.
In Mauritius, the President recognised the successes of the Persons of Indian Origin who left Indian shores many generations back and since then have achieved great progress. On November 2nd 1834, the ship ‘Atlas’ docked in Mauritius carrying the first batch of Indian indentured labourers. This day is now observed in Mauritius as ‘Aapravasi Day’. In all, about 500,000 Indian indentured labourers are estimated to have been brought into Mauritius between 1834 and the early 20th century, out of whom about two-thirds settled permanently in Mauritius. At present, around 68 per cent of the Mauritian population is of Indian descent. President Kovind’s trip comes as part of the Indian Government’s outreach programme to connect with the Indian diaspora spread worldwide in order to establish as strategic partnership in mutual progress and prosperity.
To strengthen this partnership, India has offered special provision for Mauritius in the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) scheme. President Kovind handed over OCI cards to several distinguished members of the Indian Diaspora during his stay. During the visit, the President inaugurated the new World Hindi Secretariat building on March 13th that has been constructed with Indian assistance. He also launched a project to provide e-tablets to primary school children across Mauritius to boost early digital learning and laid the foundation stone for an ENT hospital and social housing project. All these projects are funded by the Government of India under a special economic package.
President Kovind’s visit to Madagascar over March 14-15 was the first ever by a President or Prime Minister from India. India’s maritime links with Madagascar date back to the 18th century. During the visit, the President met with his Madagascar counterpart, Hery Rajaonarimampianina, to review bilateral relations and exchanged views on regional and international issues of mutual interest. President Kovind was conferred the Grand Cross of the Second Class by the Government of Madagascar. This is the highest honour the nation bestows on a non-citizen. The Governments exchanged two bilateral agreements – on defence cooperation and aviation cooperation – on the occasion. The bilateral defence agreement focuses on friendly visits by Indian ships to Madagascar, and capacity building and training of Madagascar’s personnel.
During the visit, India offered Madagascar a US$80.7 million concessional line of credit for agriculture and mechanisation. President Kovind also inaugurated the Centre for Geo-informatics Applications in Rural Development. This Centre will support communities in Madagascar in using geospatial technologies for a host of applications in rural development, and will strengthen bilateral cooperation in agriculture and related areas. The President also interacted with members of the India-Madagascar Business Forum and urged them to further trade and business opportunities. He also interacted with the local business community, delivered a talk at the University of Antananarivo and attended a reception by the local Indian community. There are about 15,000 persons of India origin in Madagascar, most of them are in trading and manufacturing, contributing considerably to Madagascar’s gross domestic product.