Prez to attend Mauritius' 50th I-Day on March 12
New Delhi: President Ramnath Kovind will attend the 50th Independence Day celebration of the Republic of Mauritius on 12 March this year. This will be second foreign visit of the President after assuming office. Sources in the Rashtrapati Bhavan said that President will stay in the island country for three days.
President Kovind visited two African countries – Djibouti and Ethiopia - in the month of October last year. That was his first foreign visit as President. Interestingly, his second visit is also to an Island nation in the Indian Ocean, about 2,000 km kilometer off the south east coast of Africa continent.
The visit assumes significance as India plans to restart its engagement with Africa and Indian Ocean littoral states.
In recent times China's growing influence in African nation has made a cause of concern for India. Recently, China made huge investment in the Island country in building up special economic zone with counterpart of Mauritius. China is looking at investing US$ 1 billion on a special economic zone (SEZ) in Mauritius. The figure appears too large for investment in a country that has no natural resources, a small labour force and an insignificant domestic market. Defence expert of India feels only plausible reason is that Mauritius provides a strategic advantage with respect to its geographical position in the Indian Ocean region and proximity to the south-west Indian Ocean ridge.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Mauritius from 11-13 March 2015, as Chief Guest at the Mauritian National Day celebrations. During his visit, PM Modi commissioned the OPV Barracuda, built by an Indian shipyard and financed by a GoI Line of Credit, into the Mauritian Coast Guard. He also launched the construction works of the World Hindi Secretariat and addressed a large and enthusiastic public gathering at a civic reception held in his honour. He also held wide ranging discussions with President Rajkeswur Purryag, Prime Minister Anerood Jugnauth, and other senior Mauritian leaders. Five agreements in various areas of mutually beneficial cooperation, including Ocean Economy and Traditional Systems of Medicine, were signed. A Line of Credit of USD 500 million to finance civilian infrastructure projects was announced during his visit.
Before that last Indian President to visit Mauritius was Pranab Mukherjee from 11-13 March 2013, during which he was the Chief Guest at the country's 45th Independence Day celebrations. Three Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) relating to cooperation in the fields of health and medicine; persons with disabilities and senior citizens; and tourism were signed.
There are nearly 11,000 Indian nationals in Mauritius. and around 750 OCI Card holders and about 3,500 PIO Card holders. To increase tourism inflow from India, Mauritian Government had introduced a visa-free regime for Indian tourists in October 2004, wherein Indian tourists visiting Mauritius for a period up to 60 days do not require a visa, provided they can show sufficient funds to cover their stay. Mauritian nationals visiting India are entitled to gratis E-Tourist Visa.