Question : India and Mauritius are traditional friends, it is said that Mauritius can be used as the gateway to Africa by India to explore entire African market. What efforts are initiated by your government to consolidate this strength?
Ans: Our government headed by Dr Navinchandra Ramgoolam is working on propagating strategic location strength of Mauritius to the world in general and India in specific. India can utilize Mauritius location to expand business ties with the entire African continent using COMESA, SADC and IOR treaties of which Mauritius is a prominent partner. The world class infrastructure and high living standards in Mauritius offers tremendous operating base for Indian Multi National companies to set up regional head quarters in Mauritius for expanding in Africa and therefore benefiting from important tax concessions. I make an appeal to the Indian companies not to consider Mauritius as a friend only but a partner to take advantage of the AGOA convention which guarantees access to USA markets for over 4400 products which can be manufactured in Mauritius using foreign raw materials i.e it can be soured from any producing countries and where it is cheapest. Make use of the triangular advantages of Asia, Mauritius and Africa.
I am confident there is scope to set up an important convention centre here which would group all Indian companies through a trade exhibition centre and which would attract buyers from all African countries.The infrastructure is available and it is only a question of proper tie-up.
Question : India and Mauritius have focused extensively on trade and commerce in the recent time, effecting cultural ties between the two nations. What efforts should be done by both the countries to preserve this unique similarity?
Ans: Yes, lately the international relations are govern by economics rather than cultural affirmity but government of Mauritius have taken series of steps to keep the cultural ties alive with India. There are many cultural groups exchange programs organised by both government and private sectors in Mauritius to keep the local population aware of the cultural roots with India.
Question : Ruling labour Party in Mauritius and Congress Party in India have established any interactive mechanism to consolidate democratic process in both countries? As all powerful General Secretary of Labour Party, what approach do you suggest to consolidate this aspect of intra party governance in democratic set up?
Ans: Democracy is all about pubic participation. The more active participation of the masses generally leads to a vibrant democracy. We can achieve full democratic delivery by ensuring that the ruling elites are subjected to constant selection process to avoid forced monopoly of certain person or group. The intra party selection process should be transparent and open, offering equal opportunity to all to ensure true people participation to select right person to lead them.
Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, the father of the nation had introduced this principle which is followed very closely by our Prime Minister, Dr Navin Ramgoolam and the same in India where Rahul Gandhi is trying to bring real democratic values in Congress Party at the grass root level. Furthermore, the usage of modern technology helps in achieving great transparency between the leadership and masses.The extensive usage of internet, networking sites, online broadcasting have helped a lot in the improvement of communication.
Question : This question is for entire global PIO community, how do you assess the development of democracy in Africa in the recent times, the road map ahead and your vision for the zone.
Ans: Some countries in Africa should learn from our experience in imparting democracy. Mauritius can be a role model for the entire Africa zone to emulate in governance. We have a vibrant democracy with a strong government and equally vocal opposition. Judicial and Media freedom have ensured better delivery of democratic norms in our country. There are many countries in Africa which have transformed in a better ruled states but i agree that much more efforts are required to improve the democratic values in the entire African continent. It is having huge natural resources and potential but lack of proper governance have ruined the probable explosive growth of the continent.
We are working with the global community to impart basic lessons of democracy so that the entire governance of the continent can be drastically changed, it is heartening to know that the young leadership of many African countries are visionary and literate, hence the application of technology with the conventional means of governance tools are implemented to achieve macro level improvement. The road ahead may be tough but the leader- ship of African nations is united to bring about realistic change for the population at large.
(Interviewed by Rajiv Agnihotri, Mauritius Bureau)