India-Mauritius Connect: From Runways to RuPay

Against the backdrop of geopolitical contestation in the Indian Ocean, India bolstered its ties with the strategically located Mauritius by inaugurating critical infrastructure projects, including an airstrip and a jetty.

In a significant move, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Mauritian counterpart Pravind Jugnauth jointly inaugurated a new airstrip, a jetty, and six community development projects on Agalega Island in Mauritius on February 29. The new airstrip will improve connectivity between mainland Mauritius and Agalega, facilitating smoother travel and trade. This development is crucial for an island nation like Mauritius, which relies heavily on air and sea links. This also bolsters maritime security and surveillance in the Indian Ocean region. Agalega Island’s strategic location makes it an ideal outpost for monitoring activities in these waters. Given the increasing presence of external actors, including China, in the region, this move is timely and essential.

India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar took to X and said: “Privileged to witness the joint inauguration of the Airstrip of Agalega, Saint James Jetty and other development projects by PM Modi and PM Jugnauth of Mauritius this afternoon. The India-Mauritius relationship is an example of our SAGAR goodwill, our Neighbourhood First priority and our Forward Africa solidarity. Today’s inaugurations will further strengthen this commitment.”

The community development initiatives aim to uplift the lives of local residents. By investing in infrastructure, education, healthcare, and livelihood opportunities, India and Mauritius demonstrate their commitment to sustainable development and poverty alleviation.

“In the last 6 months, this is the fifth meeting between me and PM Jugnauth. This is proof of a vibrant, strong and unique partnership between India and Mauritius. Mauritius is an important partner in our ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy. Mauritius is our special partner under our vision ‘SAGAR’. As members of the Global South, we have common priorities” PM Modi said, highlighting the common goals and focus on SDGs for the Global South.

“In the last 10 years, our relationship has embraced unprecedented momentum. We have achieved new heights in mutual cooperation. Cultural and historical relations have been given a new shape. Our people are already connected by the golden threads of language and culture,” he added.

Economic Integration

India and Mauritius significantly improved their economic ties as well. The recent launch of India’s UPI systems and RuPay card services in Mauritius is a big step. The UPI system allows seamless digital transactions, benefiting both individuals and businesses. Mauritius, as the first country to join India’s Jan Aushadhi scheme (providing affordable and quality medicines), now extends its collaboration to financial inclusion.

By adopting India’s financial infrastructure, Mauritius reduces its dependence on external players. This move aligns with the interests of both nagtions in maintaining sovereignty and autonomy in financial matters. The UPI and RuPay services facilitate smoother trade and investment flows. As Mauritius serves as a gateway for Indian businesses to access African markets, these financial tools enhance bilateral economic cooperation.

The Indian Ocean region is prone to geopolitical tensions, piracy, and illegal fishing. Collaborative efforts by India and Mauritius will help address these security threats effectively. China’s growing presence in the Indian Ocean has fuelled concerns for India, which sees the region as its strategic backyard. In this backdrop, India and Mauritius should navigate this landscape carefully, ensuring their interests remain paramount.

“Various traditional and non-traditional challenges are emerging in the Indian Ocean region. These challenges impact our economic systems. India and Mauritius are natural partners in the maritime domain to deal with these challenges,” PM Modi said, underscoring the cooperation required to maintain tranquillity in the Indian Ocean region.

“Our development partnership is based on Mauritius’ priorities,” he added, highlighting India’s role as a “Vishwamitra” in its quest to uplift the Global South.

India-Mauritius relations exemplify cooperation, mutual respect, and shared aspirations. The recent infrastructure projects and financial collaborations underline their commitment to a prosperous and secure future. As the Indian Ocean continues to evolve, this partnership will play a pivotal role in shaping the fast-changing regional dynamics.

(Deepakshi Bhardwaj contributed inputs for this article)


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