Blog: All in their Mind
The weeklong visit of Minister Sachin Pilot last week has proved the opposition wrong. Besides participating in the meeting of All India Management Association, he met the Prime Minister and other ministers to consolidate the already unique relations.
Sachin Pilot had clearly stated that the relationship between India and Mauritius is unique. The quality of the relationship, the economic, social, ethnic, and emotional ties transcend diplomatic and political relationship between India and Mauritius. They have been developed over decades.
Both Paul Berenger and Anerood Jugnauth are former prime ministers. They fully know that whosoever is in power in Delhi or in Port Louis, they can only work towards consolidation and improvement of relations of the two countries in all spheres of activity. There has never been and never could be “any cold” between India and Mauritius. Mauritius has proved on many occasions that it is India’s true friend. This friendship is based not only on blood but on shared history, ideals and values. India on its part has gone out of its way to help in the economic development of our country. It has educated and trained our youth, provided expertise and investment which have created wealth and job, and is a privileged trading partner.
As at now the financial sector, one of the main pillars of the economy is practically totally dependent on India through the DTAT. The treaty provides a certain advantage to investors in India. It has made Mauritius the largest provider of foreign direct investment in India. Lobbies inside and outside India are not happy with this situation. They are working hard since a long time to demolish the advantage which DTAT gives to Mauritius. Many point a finger at Singapore, our direct competitor in the financial sector for spearheading the campaign.
There is also a new breed of officials and marginal politicians who believe that the treaty is being misused by Indians holding massive black money. They are suspected of money laundering through the channel of DTAT, by ploughing back their black money as investment in India.
It is no secret that India has a parallel black economy. Many Indians have amassed massive amounts through corruption and tax evasion. They are suspected of parking the money into numbered accounts of Swiss Banks and other tax havens. Some unjustly consider Mauritius to be a tax haven.
Perhaps we have not done enough to clear our name that Mauritius is a clean financial place and that Mauritius means business by taking a strong stand against those who misuse the law of the land. In a vast democratic country like India with varied interests, I believe we have not done enough to put up our case through the Indian officialdom through the media and the Indian people. We are not active enough, we take each other for granted, giving too much importance to our blood ties and shared history and values.
India is a superpower in the making. Mauritius has evolved from a Small Island Developing State into an ocean state. The Indian Ocean Rim secretariat is based in Mauritius. Very rapid transformation is taking place in this part of the world. Africa is fast growing and is considered to be the continent of the future. There is fierce competition to acquire its raw materials. Investors are lining up to take advantage Africa is offering today.
Although a fully African country, Mauritius should stop thinking that it is the only platform Indians can use to trade and invest in Africa. India has diplomatic representations in all major capitals of Africa. They can deal directly with African states. Still Mauritius offers a safe platform for trading and investment. It is preferable for them to use the Mauritian channel as Mauritius is a member of all African institutions like SADC and Comesa.
As far as level of representations is concerned, I believe it is time to categorise and classify the importance of our representation in the different capitals. It will be appropriate to place men of stature and calibre in capitals where our interests are of primary importance. The names of Sir Satcam, Sir Rabindra Ghurburrun, Raymond Chasle, Gian Nath, Jesseramsing, Anund Neewoor, Hossen readily come to my mind as men of stature and calibre.
As far as the personal relationships between Navin Ramgoolam, Dr Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi, Advani and other political leaders are concerned there is no match to our prime minister among Mauritian political leaders. Navin Ramgoolam is just loved not only by political leaders but by the Indian masses. Hundreds of thousands had walked miles and over several hours just to have a glimpse of him during his visit to Bihar. Recently they were throwing flowers when he visited Kurukshetra. He is the son of the son of the son of the soil of India. SSR, that son of the Indian immigrant is known as a liberator of Mauritius.
As a seasoned diplomat told me there is no such thing and never can be such a thing as “cold in Indo-Mauritian relationship”. It is only in the mind of the opposition.