India Diaspora
Bihar to install former Mauritius PM's statue
Feb 21, 2007 - 1:27:35 PM

Patna, Feb 21 - A life-size statue of former Mauritius prime minister Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, who originally hailed from Bihar, will soon be installed in the state capital, officials said Wednesday.

'The decision to install a statue of Ramgoolam here was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday,' an official said.

Ramgoolam, who belonged to a village in Bihar's Saran district, was the first prime minister of Mauritius from 1961 to 1982. He is considered the father of the nation as he led his country to independence from Britain.

Mookkhswur Choonee, Mauritius High Commissioner to India, who visited Bihar in January, had requested Nitish Kumar that a statue of Ramgoolam be installed in the state to strengthen ties between the two countries.

Choonee was a special invitee at the Global Meet For Resurgent Bihar held here that was attended by over 500 people including NRIs, scholars, technocrats and businessmen.

According to official sources, Nitish Kumar has directed Chief Secretary A.K. Choudhary to initiate steps to install the statue by October-November.

'A team of master craftsmen will be assigned the job to make the life-size statue with the help of members of the Mauritius High Commission,' the official told IANS.

The Bihar government is likely to invite Mauritius Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam, son of Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, to unveil the statue here.

Choonee had last year announced that the Mauritius government would develop Ramgoolam's native village in Bihar as a historical and tourist destination.

He had noted that their great grandfathers had sailed from Bihar to Mauritius and had made important contributions to the socio-economic development of the country.

The High Commissioner added that people of Indian origin in Mauritius had still kept Indian values and traditions alive despite living far away.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had last month appealed to NRIS at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in New Delhi that Bihar be transformed into another Mauritius.

'When I was in Mauritius I told some of the Mauritian people whose ancestors hailed from Bihar that they should go to Bihar and inspire the people there to make a Mauritius out of Bihar.' Singh had said.

A large number of Biharis, known as the Girmitiya labourers, had travelled to various parts of the world, including Mauritius, in the 19th century to serve as labourers in sugarcane and rubber plantations.

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