Modi in Mauritius

The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will undertake his first overseas visits of 2015 to the Indian Ocean, the significance of which cannot be undermined, particularly by the states concerned. These are the Seychelles, Mauritius and Sri Lanka, in respective order. As a Mauritian living in India, I take this visit to heart. Having seen the response of Modi’s other missions abroad since his election in May 2014, I am keen to how he is received by my fellow countrymen and women.
Modi was often abroad since last year’s landslide elections. He began in Bhutan, but key visits last year included the BRICS summit in Brazil, Japan, the United States and Australia. In plain idiomatic terms, Modi was a rockstar in the two latter destinations. His speech in Madison Square Garden in New York, where he reputedly closed his address with the Star Wars line “May the force be with you”, while addressing youth and rubbing shoulders with Hollywood celebs, conquered many at home and away. Indians, who are patriots to the core, absolutely adored having their Prime Minister revered in such away on foreign terrain, even if they are inclined to disapprove or disparage him domestically. It was a repeat feat in Australia, where his ‘hug’ with Prime Minister Tony Abbott was splashed across screens endlessly. While Modi ‘rocked’, Indian hearts everywhere in the world soared.
Foreign leaders have definitely taken a shine to him. Obama was quick to say yes to his Republic Day invite and flew to New Delhi for a second time in his two terms to be the guest of honour at the celebrations. Bilateral talks with many more leaders have taken place or are scheduled for the upcoming year. Modi also met the former Mauritian premier (let’s not name names), who attended his swearing in ceremony. And as the new Mauritian government took office last December, emissaries were quickly dispatched to make the new mark with ‘Modi Sarkar’. Unavoidably so, I may add, as it is to be (ceaselessly) recalled that India is our biggest donor. As Modi himself announced on social media last Sunday, he is interested in cementing the connections with the Indian Ocean nations and particularly ours, whose history is irrevocably locked with that of ‘Mother India’: “My visit to Mauritius is going to be a very special one. I am very happy to be there with my sisters and brothers of Mauritius as they celebrate their National Day. Our relationship with Mauritius has been strong and I am committed to working with PM Anerood Jugnauth to strengthening our ties further in a wide range of issues. During my stay in Mauritius I would be addressing the National Assembly of Mauritius. I would be attending the programme to mark the Commissioning of Coast Ship Barracuda, which signifies the deep level of friendship between India and Mauritius.”
The deep level of friendship, as Modi himself says, is not only about enhancing cultural ties. Security is big on the agenda as India continues to assert its supremacy on the Ocean that bears its name. But are we in Mauritius, interested, conscious or even understanding of the breadth of bilateral relations our countries share? I have long doubted it. I can see it in the media, which appears fairly ‘reactive’ to Indian state visits, having little interest in it, simply providing coverage with meagre in-depth analyses of their implication. Potentially, some of our media would drool over Obama or Cameron or even Hollande… but not Modi. And it’s a shame really, considering how other nations have received him. We just simply don’t seem to know who he is. We don’t know the consequence of his victory in the last polls. In fact, as usual, Mauritians know very little unless it goes on within our concentric geography. But let me hope for the best. Let me hope my People give him the welcome of a celebrity. Let me hope his address in Parliament rouses hearts and motivates changes we ourselves need to see. Let’s just wish NaMo helps bring about some of his own ‘Modi-fication’ in a country which it continues to aid, but should really aim to inspire.


Great feature Arabella Seebaluck.

It is more than certain that Mauritians will welcome Narendra Modi with warmth and friendship.

It is true to say that the media in Mauritius have more than often been lukewarm with regards to the India-Mauritius relationship.

The same can be said though about the indifference displayed by the Indian Media towards not only Mauritius but the Indian Ocean itself.

The Indian media will kneel down in front of say an Obama even if one female Indiandiplomat was ill treated by the US government!

The Indian media too needs to get rid of its colonial mentality and join the 21st century.

When was the last time an Indian television company organised a debate on the Indian Ocean and its implications for the safety and survival of India and the Indian people?

However just mention double taxation treaty and the whole of the Indian media will immediately take a holiday in the 'fiscal paradise'!