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Social Housing Units Project in Mauritius

  • 21 Jan 2022
  • 7 min read

For Prelims: Location of Mauritius, SAGAR Mission, India-assisted Development Projects in Mauritius.

For Mains: Importance of Mauritius for India and related challenges, India-Mauritius Relations.

Why in News

Recently, the Prime Minister of India and Mauritius jointly inaugurated India-assisted social housing units project in Mauritius virtually as part of India's development support.

Key Points

  • About:
    • In May 2016, India had extended a grant of USD 353 mn to Mauritius as Special Economic Package (SEP) to execute five priority projects identified by Mauritius, among others.
    • These were: the Metro Express Project, Supreme Court Building, New ENT Hospital, Supply of Digital Tablets to Primary School Children, and the Social Housing Project.
    • With the inauguration of the Social Housing Project, all the high profile projects under the SEP have been implemented.
  • Foundation Stone for Two Other Projects:
    • Construction of a State-of-the-Art Civil Service College:
      • It is being financed through a grant support of USD 4.74 million, under an MoU signed in 2017 during the visit of Prime Minister of Mauritius to India.
      • Once constructed, this will provide a fully equipped and functional facility for the civil servants of Mauritius to undertake various training and skill development programmes.
      • It will further strengthen institutional linkages with India.
        • The Prime Minister of India also acknowledged the importance of the Civil Service College project in nation building and offered to share learnings of Mission Karmayogi.
    • 8 MW Solar PV Farm.
      • It involves the installation of 25,000 PV cells to generate approximately 14 GWh of green energy annually, to electrify approximately 10,000 Mauritian households.
      • It will help mitigate the climate challenges that Mauritius faces through avoidance of 13,000 tons of CO2 emissions.
    • Exchange of Two Key Bilateral Pacts:
      • Agreement for the extension of USD 190 million Line of Credit from India to Mauritius for the Metro Express and other infrastructure projects.
      • MoU on the Implementation of Small Development Projects.

India-Mauritius Relations

  • About:
    • Connections between India and Mauritius date back to 1730 and diplomatic relations were established in 1948 before Mauritius became an independent state (1968).
    • India has viewed Mauritius through the prism of the diaspora. This was, perhaps, natural since communities of Indian origin constitute a significant majority in the island.
      • Indian-origin people constitute nearly 70% of the population of Mauritius.
    • It is a significant partner of India in celebrating Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas which is a forum for issues concerning the Indian Diaspora.
  • Significance for India:
    • Geo-strategic: India has begun to see the strategic significance of Mauritius to the renewed great power contestation in the Indian Ocean.
      • In 2015, India unveiled its strategic vision for the Indian Ocean called the SAGAR (Security And Growth for All in the Region).
      • In 2015, India and Mauritius signed an agreement that allows India to develop infrastructure in terms of establishing military bases on the Mauritian islands.
    • Geo-Economic:
      • As a “central geographic point” Mauritius holds importance for commerce and connectivity in the Indian Ocean.
      • As a member of the African Union, Indian Ocean Rim Association and the Indian Ocean Commission, Mauritius is a stepping stone to multiple geographies.
      • As a founding-member of the ‘Small Island Developing States’ (SIDS) it has been seen as a significant neighbour.
      • India is Mauritius’s largest trading partner and has been the largest exporter of goods and services to the Indian Ocean island nation since 2007.
    • Regional Hub: As new investments pour into Mauritius from Africa, Mauritius can be the fulcrum for India’s own African economic outreach.
      • India could also contribute to the evolution of Mauritius as a regional centre for technological innovation.
      • Mauritius could also become a valuable place for regional and international maritime scientific research.
    • Pivot of Island Policy: Until now India has tended to deal with the so-called Vanilla islands of the south western Indian Ocean — Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mayotte, Reunion and Seychelles — on a bilateral basis.
      • If the Indian establishment thinks of them as a collective, it could make Mauritius the pivot of Delhi’s island policy.
      • It can facilitate a number of Indian commercial activities in the south western Indian ocean — as a banking gateway and hub for tourism.
    • Keeping Pace with China: In its “string of pearls” policy, China has built significant relations across the Indian Ocean, from Gwadar (Pakistan) to Hambantota (Sri Lanka) to Kyaukpyu (Myanmar).
      • Therefore, India should help Indian Ocean littoral states like Mauritius, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Seychelles as part of capacity and capability enhancement in strengthening their maritime domain awareness capabilities.
  • Important Developments:

Way Forward

  • While India and Mauritius share cultural contiguity dating back to colonial times and a special partnership in recent years, India cannot take its influence in Mauritius for granted and should continue to enhance its engagement with this important island country.
  • As India takes an integrated view of its security cooperation in the south western Indian Ocean, Mauritius is the natural node for it. Therefore, it is important to take course-corrections in India’s Neighbourhood First policy.

Source: PIB

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