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The Mauritian diaspora in India sure is a curiosity in how history turns. Migrants from Mauritius to India stem mainly from the indentured Indian labourers that Britain sent to the island in 1830-1920.
These pioneering migrant workers, estimated at some half a million, stayed for good in Mauritius. After the island gained independence from Britain in 1968, the descendants of these Indo-Mauritian pioneers served as a backbone to Mauritius growing itself as a high-income country.
The close Mauritius-India relationship in contemporary times is very much part of the dynamics of economic growth in the island. Mauritius annually attracts close to 100,000 Indian tourists who find fascination not only in the island’s natural charms. They are also as fascinated on India’s culture ingrained on the island.
Many public and private Indian companies have likewise set up shop in Mauritius. This encouraged the flow of expats from India into the island as well as provide impetus to a Mauritian diaspora into India. Foreign-investor activities in Mauritius’s financial centre further spur the flow of expats from the island to India and vice versa.
Significantly, Mauritius is one of India’s leading source of foreign investments. India, on the other hand, is tapping the island’s financial centre as its main conduit to invest in Africa.
The vibrant trade between India and Mauritius further spur an exchange of diaspora between the two countries. Indian-Mauritian trade is notably bound to accelerate further, under a new Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement.
This pact is coming onwards 2020, presenting new modes by which to further boost Mauritian exports to India that totaled USD23.89 million in 2019. These exports mainly included medical apparatus and industrial machinery. Mauritius, on the other hand, imported USD776.32 million worth of products 2019, mostly comprising oil and pharmaceutical products.
Mauritian diaspora to India also has a back to ride on in the country’s Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card. Adopted in 2017, it replaced the People of Indian Origin (PIO) card and expanded the coverage of its predecessor.
All the generations of Indian ancestry in Mauritius are now eligible to apply for an OCI card. Previously, the PIO limited its card applications to four generations from the applicant’s original Indian forefathers in the island.
Moreover, the OCI cardholders are allowed to pursue certain professions in India, amongst other benefits. These professionals include architects, accountants, doctors, nurses, dentists, and pharmacists.
Conversely, Mauritius has formulated a scheme granting plenty of benefits to its returning migrant workers. Coupled with the OCI card, this programme allows current and future Mauritian diaspora in India to plot a life course founded on a quaint recycling of migration history.