Madam Speaker, Mrs. Santi Bai Hanoomanjee,
Prime Minister Sir Aneerood Jugnauth ji,
Leader of the Opposition Mr. Paul Berenger,
Members of the Assembly,
Greetings on the Independence Day of Mauritius!
It is always a great honour to speak to a National Assembly.
But, it is truly special to do so in the Assembly of a people with which we share the deepest bonds of history and culture; and, of a nation that we are proud to call a friend and a partner.
To be here with you in this Assembly on your National Day is a blessed moment for me.
On Independence Day, we not only celebrate liberty, but also remember the struggles and sacrifices that gave birth to freedom.
Today is also a special day in the history of India`s freedom struggle.
On this day, in 1930, Mahatma Gandhi began his Dandi March.
And, India took a great step forward to Independence.
Your National Day honours Mahatma Gandhi. And, it forms a deep bond of emotion between our two countries.
Today, I also pay homage to Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam for leading Mauritius to freedom, and for his vision and leadership in building our partnership.
I stand here today not just in celebration of our relationship, but also in admiration of your achievements.
There are many countries that have seen the joys of freedom fade into the gloom of lost direction.
In Mauritius, though, the hopes and promises of independence have become brighter by the passing day.
Mauritius has stood as a bright beacon of democracy.
This is a nation of a little over a million people of huge diversity living in great harmony.
It is a nation that has lived up to the words of its national anthem – one nation, one people, in peace, justice and liberty.
It is a nation moving firmly on the path of prosperity.
I have always admired how Mauritius has made smart choices; and encouraged hard work and enterprise.
It has gone from an agricultural economy to a middle income and diversified economy, tapping the opportunities in textile and tourism and now to offshore finance and information technology.
Generations ago, people from India charted an unknown course to an uncertain new life in an unfamiliar world.
As they built their lives, they lived on the memories of Himalaya and Ganga; through the rituals of Shivratri and Kavedee; the colours of Holi and the joy of Eid; through songs that welcomed the rains and dances that celebrated the harvest.
Today, they are proud citizens of Mauritius; thriving in the dynamism of their country; contributing to its success.
The island pulsates with the beauty of their preserved beliefs and culture. Yet, they blend easily into a way of life that has been formed by the winds and waves from different parts of the world.
This morning I went to Ganga Talao. I felt a personal connection that comes from the banks of Ganga in my parliamentary constituency - Benaras.
And, I understood the powerful links of heart that have endured time and distance in this magnificent land.
Today, these links form the firmest foundation of our relationship. They have created goodwill and warmth rarely seen in international relations. They have built an unbreakable chain of trust between us.
Today we are equally proud to have a relationship that speaks to the needs of our times. We relate to each other from the comfort of our shared democratic values. We are partners in our economic progress. We shoulder our shared responsibility to advance security in the Indian Ocean. We speak in one voice in the cause of the developing world and the future of our planet.
I see Mauritius as a leader in the Indian Ocean Community and as a bridge to Africa.
Your leadership is helping promote Hindi in the world. India thanks you for hosting the World Hindi Secretariat.
This is the wealth of our inheritance. This is the richness of our partnership.
Last year, we had democratic transition in both countries. There are two things that are similar to both.
After a long time a single party won absolute majority in both countries.
And, in both Parliaments – this is very interesting – in both Parliaments, I have the honour to say “Madam Speaker”!
We know that democratic changes make no difference to the strength of our relationship.
What we now have, though, in both nations is a stable platform to speed up economic development.
Over the last nine months, we in India have moved with a clear vision of inclusive development. We have acted with speed, resolve, innovation and boldness to increase economic growth; reform our economy and transform the lives of our people; and create opportunities for the most excluded youth, the remotest farmer and the farthest village.
I am confident that under Prime Minister Jugnauth, development in Mauritius will become more impressive.
And, I can assure you that as always we will be with you – in support of your efforts and in joy for your success.
Yesterday, I told Prime Minister Jugnauth that we understand the importance of the offshore banking sector for your economy. We are conscious of its dependence on India. We will work together for our shared objective to avoid the abuse of our double taxation avoidance convention. I thank you for your support. But, I also assure you that we will do nothing to harm this vibrant sector of one of our closest strategic partners.
It has been a great privilege to be a development partner for Mauritius. We will always be ready to do more, in accordance with your wishes.
Yesterday, we announced a new Line of Credit of 500 million U.S. dollars for the development of civilian projects in Mauritius.
Prime Minister Vajpayee had supported the construction of the first cyber city in Mauritius in 2003. That became a symbol of our thriving economic partnership. I am pleased to announce our support for a second cyber city in Mauritius.
While we are on the subject of information technology, the e-health project in Mauritius is a laudable initiative. And, we would be happy to support its development.
We are honoured to be Mauritius`s partner for meeting its petroleum requirements. We are embarking on a new project to build the petroleum storage facility here. This will further strengthen the position of Mauritius as a regional economic hub.
Mauritius has shown great vision in the development of its ocean economy – from fishing to tourism.
India is also highly dependent on the seas. We are seeking to develop our marine economy and discover new possibilities. We are doing this in a sustainable manner that preserves the delicate ecosystem of our oceans. Indeed, the oceans hold vast potential to advance our prosperity and meet the challenges of the world.
That is why I consider the blue chakr in our national flag as a symbol of Blue Revolution; just as saffron represents Energy Revolution, white the Milk Revolution and, green the Energy Revolution.
This offers a great opportunity for cooperation between our two countries. We can learn from you. Together, we can better understand our marine ecology and the new opportunities. We can improve our ability to pursue more sustainable practices.
Our partnership must also cover the challenge of climate change. For India, it is a mission that we are pursuing on an entirely new scale and with a new sense of urgency. We have set an ambitious target of 100 Gigawatts of solar energy and 60 Gigawatts of wind energy by 2022. We will seek to dramatically increase our energy efficiency, which is the cleanest form of energy.
This is a choice that is driven by commitment to the future, but also by principles.
And for me, it is an Article of Faith.
We are the inheritors of an ancient tradition and wisdom that elevated preservation of nature to a sacred duty; that worships Earth as a mother; and, that treats reckless exploitation of nature as a crime.
Mauritius has been a leading international voice on climate change, not just as an advocate for island states, but for the sake of our collective future. We look forward to working with you for a more resolute global action against climate change.
We can pursue our dreams of a sustainable and prosperous future if we are confident about peace, security and stability in our world.
For India and Mauritius, our destinies are linked by the currents of the Indian Ocean.
Our security partnership has been a strong pillar of our relationship. And, it has stood the test of time.
It is founded on unmatched mutual confidence and trust.
It is rooted in the responsibility to each other that comes naturally from our friendship.
It stems from our shared commitment to peace and prosperity in the Indian Ocean Region.
As Mauritius seeks to make islands and waters safer; as you seek to secure your vast Exclusive Economic Zone, we will always be there for you.
We will deepen our cooperation. And, we will also do everything we can to strengthen your own capabilities.
Later today, I will have the honour to commission the Barracuda into the service of your National Coast Guard.
Today, proudly flying the flag of Mauritius, she will sail as a symbol of our partnership.
India is grateful for the faith you have placed in us.
And, as Mauritius assumes greater responsibility for securing this part of the Indian Ocean, we know that our region will be a safer place.
But, we share a broader vision for lasting stability and prosperity in the region.
We believe that all nations in our region should come together to shoulder our shared responsibility.
We seek a comprehensive partnership of closer security, economic, cultural, scientific and people-to-people ties in our region.
That is why we are grateful that Mauritius hosts the Indian Ocean Rim Association. Your leadership will remain important to realize our vision. Your steadfast support in global institutions gives us more strength to speak on our common interests. Now, as the United Nations reaches its 70th year at a time of great turmoil, we seek your support to reform this institution to make it more relevant to the needs of our age.
I want to thank Mauritius for the strong support for United Nations Resolution declaring June 21 as the International Day of Yoga. This resolution was passed by a record co-sponsorship in a record time frame.
This is a tribute to our shared heritage. I know you will celebrate it with fervor in Mauritius.
In the life of a nation, as in the life of an individual, there is nothing more precious and satisfying than a true friend and well-wisher; nothing more comforting than his embrace; nothing more valuable than his trust; nothing more reassuring than his support; nothing more enriching than his partnership.
So, we are blessed to have your friendship. And, I always say that if there is one country that has full claims on us, it is Mauritius.
It a relationship of our hearts and sentiments. And, it will never be limited by boundaries.
We in India will do everything to nurture it.
This relationship will always be a source of great joy and strength to our two countries. And, it will also be of immense value to our region and our world.
Thank you for this honour. Once again, I give you my best wishes on this National Day.
Thank you very much.