The High Commissioner of the Republic of Mauritius to India, H.E. Mr. Jagdishwar Goburdhun opens up on his experiences in India, highlighting the cultural affinity shared between Mauritius and India. He also elucidates the impact of the solidarity observed between the two countries during the 15th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in the holy city of Varanasi in January 2019.

1.Excellency, what brings you to India? And how has your stay been in the country so far?

I have been extremely privileged to be the High Commissioner of Mauritius to India. My diplomatic experience in India and the neighbouring countries of Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Singapore has been enriching. I have received a warm welcome from the Government of India and we are pleased to collaborate on multiple avenues while strengthening the Mauritius-India bilateral relations. One of the paramount reasons for me to be in India is the association I share on an individual level. In 1984, when I came for an official visit, I had the pleasure of visiting the place of my origin in India and meeting my long lost family. The cultural heritage and historical connect motivates me to be here. Today, the world is awake to the strong cultural affinity shared between the Republic of Mauritius and the Republic of India. India is internationally recognised as one of the greatest democracies in the world. Thanks to the massive growth and development of the people, India has predominantly become a model economy for the rest of the world. Even during my years of serving as the Minister of Health in Mauritius, I have always received exemplary support from the Government of India in every endeavour to establish a welfare state. Our collaborative efforts to consolidate a welfare state were highly appreciated in the United Nations as were. The efforts by the present Government, enshrined in the various economic and social development schemes launched during the last few years, reflect India’s allegiance towards being a welfare state. The honourable Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, has played an instrumental role in building a strong economy that supports the hopes and dreams of millions of Indians. The Government of India has initiated several programmes that gained world attention including the multi-million dollar sanitation project, world’s largest government-funded healthcare scheme, and also the cleanliness drive. These efforts encourage the rest of the world to work towards serving humanity and eradicating disparity. Not just as a High Commissioner of Mauritius in India but also as a previous Member of Parliament in Mauritius and as a politician, these initiatives capture the essence of the country for me. During my stay here so far, there have been several highlights in the Mauritius-India relations including the various inter-governmental negotiations, the Metro Project in Mauritius, the Agalega Island project, AYUSH Ministry initiative, the Eye & Cancer Hospital, and the MoUs exchanged on areas of cooperation. It is an honour to be able to play a part in strengthening the historically inspirational bilateral relations between these two democracies.

2. Mauritius is taking several initiatives to encourage Bhojpuri and Hindi. Please shed light on some of them and how the languages have evolved over the years?

Bhojpuri is one of the oldest and most sacred mother languages in the world. The Bhojpuri region, which is the western Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh belt in India, is from where many of our forefathers migrated to Mauritius to earn a livelihood about 200 years ago. Bhojpuri is the mother of Hindi. It is almost 5000 years old and it is about time we give the language its dues. Our PM Mr Jugnauth broke into Bhojpuri on stage during the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, gathering cheer from the people. This reflects our sentiments and the deep rooted bond shared between the people of Mauritius and India. Our PM has committed himself to promote Bhojpuri together with Sanskrit among the younger generation. We are dedicated to keeping the language and the culture alive. And we are hopeful that even the Indian Prime Minister, walking on the principles of “Vasudevaye Kutumbakam” (translates to: the world is one family) will play a crucial role in seeking a place of pride for Bhojpuri as a sacred mother tongue. Bhojpuri speaking people in Mauritius, under the aegis of Bhojpuri Speaking Union, has proudly founded the institution of “Geet Gawai School” (translates to: Song Singing School) in Mauritius. The idea is purely to promote the rich cultural heritage of Bhojpuri, as a mother language. And we are delighted with UNESCO’s inscription of the Bhojpuri Folk Songs Geet Gawai as tangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The language has been through injustice for the longest period of time and we understand the importance of preserving the intangible cultural heritage of Bhojpuri. There is a need to encourage mother tongue-based education since extinction of a language leads to disappearance of the entire culture associated with it. UNESCO has declared all mother language as equal and I firmly believe that when a language dies, the culture also dies.

3. What is your message for the readers of this special publication on the India-Mauritius relations?

I would like to congratulate and thank the team of Diplomacy and Beyond Plus for this special publication on Mauritius. All the articles here are insightful and depict the real connect between our countries. We are striving for further progress of Mauritius and are looking forward in consolidating the special relations between the Government of India and Government of Mauritius. This publication, I am hopeful, would be supportive in establishing a robust people to people connection by introducing Mauritius to the readers. In years to come, we expect to build strong associations between the people of Mauritius and India. I would like to thank the magazine for playing a significant role in bridging the gap between our people.