By Devika Sharma
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Mauritius was a balanced mix of promoting the essence of Hindu culture along with strengthening bilateral ties. On March 12, he had visited the Ganga Tales, a place considered to be the most sacred Hindu place in Mauritius and offered prayers at the temple of the Hindu Deity Lord Shiva. Seeing him perform the Puja (Prayer) and Aarti at the temple was a scopophilic sight for millions of Indians not just in Mauritius but world over. Modi also poured ‘Gangajal’ on the Shivalinga at the temple, assisted by Hindu priests. This was symbolic of the larger idea of Hindu rituals and practices.
On the same day he hailed Mauritius for elevating Hindi literature through its contribution and talked about how the Hindi language has occupied a special and important place in the world. Mr. Modi also wished the people of Mauritius on behalf of nearly 125 crore Indians on the occasion of the country’s National Day.
Even in his earlier visit to United States, his presence at the Madison Square created a spectacle of the event that symbolized the essence of India as he wanted the world to see. Speaking about the importance of our holy river Ganga and connecting with a sea of NRI’s there, he laid the groundwork for the construction of a World Hindi Secretariat building at Phoenix where he spoke highly about the uniqueness of the Hindi language. By all this he strategically sent out a larger message of the essence of India.
Similarly, in his visit to Mauritius, the Prime Minister, whose government has been pitching for use of Hindi in official works in India, said that the language has made a special place for itself in the world of languages. Modi also visited Appravasi Ghats during his visit to the island nation. The temple site and Appravasi Ghat are associated with the arrival of Indian indentured work force to Mauritius more than 180 years ago. Modi has been successful in glorifying our priceless heritage on a global scale by acting as a signifier of Indian culture. These practices by the PM in my view are not based on religious lines but strategic lines.
Mauritius is sometime portrayed as India’s backwaters. A chunk of the population sees India’s condescending attitude as a threat to its own identity. But, are these threats legitimate?
People who are skeptical of better India-Mauritius relationship must give due credit to the fact that unlike China’s cheque-book international relations and the west’s economic materialism, India’s engagement with Mauritius is open and transparent and based on mutual respect and friendship.
In the recent years Indian diasporas world over has been stimulated by India’s economic advances and has started to feel a rejuvenated sense of pride and belonging to their land. For instance the Sindhis define Mauritius in a phenomenal way. They are an important part of the population composition in Mauritius where people from different ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds have together built a unique country.
These are the people who can be invoked on grounds of Hinduism. Invoked to do good for the country, invoke NRI’s to send in support not just morally but even financially for the overall development of India. Modi has done just that. In every overseas visit he has made sure of addressing Indians living world over.