Port Louis: Mauritius said it will continue
to be inspired by the ideals and values laid by late Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who fondly referred to the island nation as "Chota Bharat".
"Ms Gandhi had a special love for Mauritius and
affectionately referred to it as `Chota Bharat` where she
occupies a place of choice in the hearts of Mauritians,"
Mauritius Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam said in a
speech during the unveiling of the bust of Gandhi at the
Centre for Indian Culture here by President Pratibha Patil,
who is on a five-day State Visit to Mauritius.
Fondly remembering Gandhi`s first State Visit to
Independent Mauritius in 1970 when she laid the foundation
stone of the Mahatma Gandhi Institute, Ramgoolam said, "It is
still very vivid in our memory how some 150,000 persons, close
to one fifth of our population at that time, gathered at the
Champ de Mars, on June 4, 1970, to give a triumphant welcome
to Indira Gandhi and her sons, Rajiv and Sanjay."
"This first visit was an important landmark in the
relations between Mauritius and India and it inspired us to
pursue with renewed vigour the ideals and values, which we
share and that nourished us from the very beginning," he said.
The Mauritian Prime Minister went on to praise the close
personal ties his family has maintained and strengthened with
those of Gandhis.
"The friendship between the Gandhi family and my family
goes a long way. Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam first met Pt
Jawaharlal Nehru when, as a student in London, he became the
President of the London Branch of the Indian National
Congress," he recalled.
Hailing Gandhi as "a woman of substance in her own
rights", Ramgoolam said she became the first woman prime
minister of India "at a crucial phase of India`s development
managed by sheer dedication and vision, and carved a highly
respectable place for her country on the international scene."
"Indira Gandhi played a prominent role in international
affairs and invested a lot of efforts to improve relations
with her neighbours. Perhaps what is of greater significance
was her relentless fight for an international order where more
justice and equity could prevail."
Gandhi`s leadership, political skills and perseverance
will always be remembered, and continue to be a source of
inspiration around the globe, the Mauritius prime minister
noted in his speech.
Ramgoolam expressed confidence that the strong bonds of
affinity will be further strengthened between India and
Mauritius in the years ahead.
"I am sure that our `great little country` as Ms Indira
Gandhi used to describe us, will continue to be inspired by
this great lady and by all those who constitute India`s
He also congratulated the sculptor, Ram Sutar, for the