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Remarks by Shri V. Muraleedharan, Minister of State for External Affairs at the first Ministerial meeting on Indentured Labour Route Project (ILRP) organized by the Government of Mauritius

July 16, 2021

His Excellency Mr. Pravind Jugnauth, Hon’ble Prime Minister of Republic of Mauritius,
His Excellency Mr. Avinash Teeluck Hon’ble Minister of Arts and Culture of Republic of Mauritius,
Excellencies and friends,

Namaskaram !


India and Mauritius share a unique and extraordinary bilateral relationship which draws strength from the shared and unflinching commitment of both the countries towards democratic and pluralistic ideals and bonds between our peoples.

2. It is my privilege to participate in today’s meeting and to have this opportunity to share my views. I commend the Government of Mauritius initiative in organizing this meeting. I also take this opportunity to express our appreciation towards the Government of Mauritius for providing leadership to this project and providing the required impetus to carry this project forward.

3. The Indenture Labour Route Project is a unique project that connects countries with shared histories and shared experience of the indentured labour system. The system brought people from across the seas to work on plantations during a previous era, when we were not our own political masters. However, an unintended benefit accrued, and because of this system, we now have diasporic ties that we value and cherish and we seek to strengthen and celebrate, as bonds that link us today.

Excellency,


4. This project is a great initiative not only for creation of database, but also for fostering ties among nations and to develop clear understanding of the unique history that all of us have undergone. We are tied together by bonds of human relations, by bonds of the very things which define human identity, i.e. culture, language and religion.

5. Let me take the liberty to briefly share India’s initiatives to engage with Indian Diaspora both Indian nationals overseas and those of Indian origin.

6. India has, over the years, endeavored to forge strong ties with its diaspora present across the globe. Our diaspora is present across 140+ countries and we are proud of their achievements and contributions to their new homes. We provide 24x7 support to Indian nationals abroad in terms of consular support and welfare and also during critical times, including pandemics such as this.

7. To strengthen our ties with our young members of the diaspora, we organize initiatives such as Know in India Programme and Bharat Ko Janiye Quiz (Know India Quiz). Through another scheme called Pravasi Teerth Darshan Yojana, we engage elderly persons of Indian origin. Further, to commemorate our ties with the diaspora, Government of India has been hosting Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas (PBD) since 2003 to celebrate, engage and appreciate the Indian diaspora. We have been honoured by the participation of leaders from Mauritius. All our efforts are shaped by the objective of establishing connect with an element of care.

8. Against this backdrop, we believe that the initiative of the government of Mauritius has enormous potential to unlock hitherto unexplored treasure of knowledge and historical data and will spur further studies and research in fields of history, cultural studies, linguistics, sociology, anthropology and archaeology. I am sure that this first Inter-Ministerial Meeting of the ILRP will add to the efforts of International Scientific Committee (ISC) overseeing the work of the project and provide it the needed momentum.

9. Given that this great historical movement began from India, we would be happy to participate and extend our wholehearted support to Mauritius for carrying this project forward. We look forward to working closely with the government of Mauritius and other countries to make this initiative successful. A consolidated database of indentured labour flows that this project purports to develop, when achieved would be a great asset for historical reasons, for knowledge generation on the subject and for diaspora engagement.

10. Before concluding my remarks, let me once again congratulate the leadership of Mauritius for this initiative and extend my best wishes to everyone associated with the project. I am confident that all of us together can make this project a great success.

Thank you.

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