Google have sent me to the website of the High Commission of India in Mauritius after I had been searching something about the Indira Gandhi Centre for Indian Culture in Phoenix. Browsing through the website, a few things were worth noting:
1. Holy days
What is qualified as “holidays” by the Indian High Commission can seem somewhat baffling to some people:
Are these 17 holidays for India or for Mauritius, or for both countries? If both, what about Mauritian public holidays such as Cavadee, Chinese New Year, Assumption or Eid-ul-Fitr? Or, worse, what about the abolition of slavery? “Aapravasi Day (Arrival of Indentured Labourers Day)” appears in 14th position in the list. Didn’t people at the High Commission know that everytime indentured labour is mentioned slavery must automatically be mentioned too? How politically incorrect all this is!
“Independence Day” on “August 15” and “National Day” on “March 12”. Hoy! For those who didn’t realise, Mauritius became independent on the 12th March. This day is known as “lindépandans” in the country.
2. Doctors and titles
On the photo gallery the visitor can see a picture of Navin Ramgoolam dicussing with Manmohan Singh, in “Port of Spain” says the underlying text — which calls the former “the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh” and the latter “the Prime Minister of Mauritius, Mr. Navin Chandra Ramgoolam”. Maybe it has not been brought to the knowledge of the High Commission’s staff that Mr Ramgoolam is also a doctor, just like his late Father. On another High Commission page listing all the GoM’s ministers, the Mauritian Prime Minister’s titles are given as “Dr.”, “Honourable”, “GCSK” and “FRCP”. What about “Grand officier de la Légion d’honneur”? Maybe a few people haven’t noticed that Mr Ramgoolam likes to wear the red ribbon of this French order on the left-hand side of his suits. On the other hand, some have obviously noticed it, as can be seen on the large portrait offered on the 25 April 2011 by the President of India.
3. Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanic Garden
On the page giving a timeline of Mauritian history it can be read that “among his [Labourdonnais'] other achievements, one can mention the Government House, the Line Barracks, and Chateau Mon Plaisir at Pamplemousses Botanical Gardens”. It should be told to the High Commission of India that for some years now the garden has been officially named “Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanic Garden”. This is at least what is mentioned on the page dedicated to the garden on the Goverment of Mauritius’ website.
“Creole does not have a definite written form.” Hum, I wonder what Carpooran, the Akademi Kreol and those who were behind Grafi Larmoni would say — publicly or privately — about this statement. And doesn’t anyone at the High Commission know that the National Language of Mauritius should now be spelt with a K?
5. French-speaking Indira Gandhi
August 1982 – Address by Her Excellency the Prime Minister of India, Shrimati Indira Gandhi
Hon. Speaker, Prime Minister and distinguished Members of the National Assembly.
C´est toujours un grand honneur de prendre la parole devant l´auguste législature d´un pays autre que le sien. Je remercie Maurice de m´avoir accordée une fois de plus ce privilege.
Le Parlement constitue le corps institutionnel de tout gouvernement représentatif. Il incarne la volonté libre d´un peuple libre. Il joue le role du gardien de la liberté et garant de la justice. C´est dans le Parlement que le peuple repose tous ses espoirs et toutes ses aspirations. Les élections sont le procéssus par lequel nous choisissons et nous changeons nos gouvernements d´une manière pacifique et en civilisée. Il incombe, donc, au Parlement de veiller à ce que ces options suivent de près les idéaux de la nation.
Your recent elections have brought a large number of young people to this Parliament. We, in India, have also made special efforts to give the young their legitimate share of authority and responsibility. Demographers tell us that compared to affluent countries, the young of developing ones form a greater proportion of the population. The real majorities in the world are the young and the poor. It was once said "si jeunesse savait, si vieillesse pouvait". Science has altered that. Youth does not lag behind in knowledge, in science, in technology or other spheres, nor does age necessarily hamper activity.
Did she really speak French or did she learn this more or less by heart before delivering a speech in a House whose statutes say that its language is English but that the Speaker may be addressed in French? If she learned it by heart, she could then have spoken Creole.
6. Persons of Indian Origin
“2. Persons of Indian Origin desirous of tracing their roots in India would be required to fill up the prescribed application form and deposit it with the concerned Indian Mission/Post located in the country of their residence along with a fee of Rs 30,000/- (Rupees thirty thousand) in equivalent US $, Euro or any other foreign currency acceptable to the Indian Mission/Post.” Thirty thousand rupees? Why is an official Indian body asking for so much money just to let people know where in India their ancestors came from?
7. Rugby more popular than football?
Amazingly, among the three “popular sports” in Mauritius that are mentioned on one page decicated to Mauritian culture, rugby appears in second position, between horseracing and football. “Rugby”? Maybe “cricket” was meant instead. (Incidentally, one can wonder how many Mauritians have ever played rugby — not to mention cricket.)
There are certainly other points of interest on this website. I’ll encourage those who wish to find them to post their quotes and comments below. We could then try to find what the British High Commission or the French Embassy have to say about Mauritius.