New Delhi: Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, the Prime Minister of Mauritius since 2017, has arrived in India on a private visit, a month after winning a hard-fought general election.
Jugnauth, son of former Mauritius PM Anerood Jugnauth, is set to meet his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, as both countries seek to take their ties to the next level amid the island nation’s increasing role in the Indian Ocean Region.
India is looking to strengthen maritime security, and is scouting for partners to achieve its goals. Discussions around how Mauritius can play a role in India’s ocean initiatives will be hence central to the visit, sources told ThePrint.
Jagnauth and Modi already share a good rapport, which could help Mauritius act as India’s gateway to the African continent, the sources said. India is set to host the India-Africa Summit next year.
“Mauritius has a big role to play as an Indian Ocean country and as an African country. India and Mauritius have close cooperation on the blue economy and maritime security,” said Rajiv Bhatia, veteran diplomat and distinguished fellow at Gatewayhouse India.
He said India and Mauritius have always been cordial partners with a special relationship.
“Even though (Jugnauth’s visit) is a private one, it is nevertheless important since India is now preparing for the upcoming India-Africa Summit,” he said.
Fourth visit since 2017
This is Jugnauth’s fourth visit to India since taking over from his father as PM in January 2017.
On his first visit, in May 2017, India and Mauritius had signed an agreement on maritime security.
Then, he visited India in January 2019 as the chief guest at the 15th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, where he also met industry leaders in Mumbai.
Jugnauth’s next visit was in May 2019, when he flew in to attend the swearing-in ceremony for the Modi government on its second term.
In early November, Jagnauth’s Militant Socialist Movement (MSM) party came to power in Mauritius, winning 35 out of the 62 seats in the National Assembly.
PM Modi was one of the first world leaders to call him and send him congratulatory messages.
“Congratulations @PKJugnauth on your electoral victory. We have worked closely together to strengthen fraternal relations and development partnership between India and Mauritius. I look forward to speaking with you soon and to continuing our engagement. @MauritiusPM,” Modi said in a tweet on 9 November.
Congratulations @PKJugnauth on your electoral victory.
We have worked closely together to strengthen fraternal relations and development partnership between India and Mauritius.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) November 9, 2019
India has also offered its support to Mauritius in its claims to the island of Diego Garcia, which continues to be ruled by the UK and is most famous as being home to a US military base in the Indian Ocean.
Diego Garcia and Chagos Islands are all part of the British Indian Ocean Territory, though the United Nations, in a directive earlier this year, rejected Britain’s claim on the islands, urging the original inhabitants of the land to return.
Important for Indian economy
According to sources, Prime Minister Jugnauth could also meet Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, as Mauritius remains India’s top source of foreign direct investment (FDI).
India received a total FDI of $8.08 billion from Mauritius during the fiscal 2018-19, accounting for almost 32 per cent of the country’s total FDI inflows, according to official data.
However, the issue of FDI inflows remains an “important and delicate issue”, since a bulk of these investments are not directly from Mauritius, but are routed through the island nation. This, the sources said, remains concern for India in terms of channelisation of black money and money-laundering issues.
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