National Day, a day when patriotism and pride should be at an all time high among the citizens of our nation. A day when we forget who or what we are and remember only one thing: we are Mauritian.
This is the general idea obviously and is why all the pomp and fervour are pushed to an even higher level, reminding people just how special a time it really is. And in all honesty, it is a special time that deserves to be celebrated because it marks the 47th year of the country’s independence. This is no small feat or should hardly be considered one given the size, geographical location and anatomy of the island.
It is our feel good story from start to finish and it is understandable. This is why the method of celebration is as important as the celebration itself. As is the norm, every year, a guest of honour is invited to the festivities with this year’s guest none other than the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.
Let’s face it, he is the man of the moment and that too seems to be an understandable affirmation. His international diplomacy leaves little room for criticism when you notice not only how effortlessly he has been travelling to countries like America, Nepal and Japan to name but a few, but also how successful the trips are after his interactions with their leaders.
One needs to ask though, if Modi’s invite has everything or anything to do with the ongoing and longstanding bilateral relations shared by these countries – termed as ‘sister countries’ – or if this is simply a chance to establish a promising relation with the newly elected Indian Prime Minister seeing as though previous close ties were shared between that of the Gandhi and Jugnauth family’s.
Does it merely come down to the importance of these bilateral relations and the attempt on Mauritius’ part not to rock any proverbial boat? After all, India is Mauritius’ largest trading partner and has been the biggest exporter of goods and services since 2007. It is indeed a closeness that the two countries have shared, dating back to 1948, that also earned Mauritius the nickname of Little India and now leads to an unspoken form of respect for the relations that likely encourages such ceremonious encounters too.
Though the invite is not a far-fetched one at all when you think about what is at stake from an international relations point of view, it begs the question behind Modi’s reason for accepting the said invite and throws into the equation if this could have anything to do with the fact that this may very well be SAJ’s last mandate. Is it really about showing camaraderie or being courteous?
Apart from these obvious relational matters though, a strained atmosphere seems to also be present in this mix. It’s almost as if both sides are waiting expectantly to see how this will turn out as opposed to two old friends meeting across the table from one another. Though the relationship that the two countries share is longstanding, the current mix of government representatives isn’t and it is this critical dynamic between newly elected officials that needs affirming more than anything else by the end of this trip.
This strained dynamic is not an entirely new context either following the issue that came about during the Foreign Minister of India, Sushma Swaraj’s, visit to Mauritius ahead of the elections. However, neither the intention nor the outcomes of MSM leader Pravind Jugnauth’s private meeting with the minister are shrouded in some mystery to this very day. In matters of state relations, ceremonious invitations are hardly straightforward, face value kind of invites. This is the reality of international relations but should not detract from the actual celebrations at hand.
Also, to say that Mauritius is not seeing this occasion to attract some positive Public Relations to the country would be naïve to mention at the least. After all, it goes without saying that it’s strategic implementation benefits the country in more than one way. Not only is it an ideal situation to mark an important milestone in the Mauritian historical landscape with one of the country’s oldest alliances – being India – but it’s hopefully also a means to strengthen diplomatic relations between two newly elected governments. This can only seem beneficial for both parties; else it would likely not even be taking place.
Surely we have a recipe for success embedded into this years celebrations? The truth is though; we really do have to pay tribute to the independence feat. Nearing a half-century of independence for the island is worth being proud of, more so due to a renewed sense of country spirit we all seem to have.
Whether this has to do with the recent change in government or its determination to prove it is serious about bringing about the much needed change to the country, the upcoming Independence Day merriments are surely a chance to prove not only domestically but also internationally that it’s something worth not only being proud of and embracing, but really going all out to celebrate its occasion.
Happy Independence Day Moris!