In land of ancestors, Mauritius PM speaks in Bhojpuri

February 18th, 2008 - 10:35 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Navinchandra Ramgoolam
(Second Lead)

Patna, Feb 18 (IANS) Visiting the land of his ancestors, Mauritius Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam spoke in Bhojpuri here Monday evening, taking hundreds of people gathered to hear him by surprise. Ramgoolam arrived here Monday noon on a three-day visit, his first to Bihar. Overcome by emotion as he landed, the Mauritius leader touched the ground after alighting from the aircraft and smeared some mud on his forehead.

Later, he spoke in Bhojpuri - a dialect of Hindi common in western Bihar - to say good evening and convey the good wishes of the people of Mauritius. “I am feeling close to my roots. Bihar is like my motherland,” Ramgoolam said during the civic reception at the S.K. Memorial Hall here.

Though his Bhojpuri accent was not very clear, he had a happy smile throughout while speaking in the language of his ancestors.

The state government presented him a silver statue and a Bhagalpuri silk shawl at the reception.

A 24-minute documentary on his father, Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, who led Mauritius to independence from Britain and was the first prime minister of the island nation, was shown on the occasion. The film was by the Mauritius government.

Ramgoolam is to visit Bhojpur, Siwan, Gaya and Nalanda districts during his visit.

Earlier Monday, he had unveiled a bronze statue of his father at a junction near the Gandhi Maidan here. The 600 kg nine-foot statue has been created by Noida-based sculptor Anil Kumar Suthar at a cost of Rs.1.4 million.

On Tuesday, Ramgoolam will visit his ancestral village Harigaon in Bhojpur district, where he will spend about three hours. He will take part in a public reception in his honour there.

“He will lay the foundation stones of various development projects there,” an official said.

Harigaon has been given a facelift. The chief minister and officials went to the village last month and hurriedly ordered construction of roads, a hospital, a school and other basic facilities.

The Mauritius prime minister will be flown in an Indian Air Force helicopter to Siwan and Harigaon.

On Tuesday, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is hosting a dinner cruise on the Ganges. On the last day of his visit, Ramgoolam will visit the Buddhist pilgrimage sites of Nalanda and Bodh Gaya before returning to Mauritius.

A large number of people from Bihar travelled to various parts of the world, including Mauritius, in the 19th century to serve as indentured labourers in sugarcane and rubber plantations.

Ramgoolam’s grandfather Mohit was among those taken by the British in 1871.

Most of the workers then were from Bhojpur, Chapra, Gopalganj and East and West Champaran. About 60 percent of the 1.2 million population of Mauritius is of Indian origin.

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