VARANASI: Many foreign dignitaries speak a few Hindi words to wow crowds in India but Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth went a step further on Tuesday and broke into chaste Bhojpuri in his address at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, much to the delight of the gathering.
Delivering the keynote address as the chief guest at the inauguration of the 15th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas convention in this temple town, Jugnauth also announced that Mauritius will host a Bhagwad Gita Mahotsav in partnership with the Haryana government next month and also for the first time organise a Bhojpuri Festival next year.
"Bahut bars pehle, jaun logan hiyan se Mauritius jal rahlan, aaj oo logan ki santaan ee pavitra dharti par aal howan, ja humni ki khatir ee apan aap mein aego teerthba (Many years ago, those people who had left for Mauritius, their children have come to this pure land and for them this land is pilgrimage), the visiting leader said, drawing loud cheers from the crowd.
Jugnauth, who also spoke in Hindi several times during his address, signed off saying, Dono deshon ki gehri mitrita bani rahe (the friendship between the two countries continues).
Many of those from India who first arrived in Mauritius to work as indentured labourers were those from Bihar, speaking Bhojpuri.
If India is unique, Indianness is universal, Jugnauth said in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, among others.
The Mauritian premier lauded India's soft power and said the recognition of the International Day of Yoga was a manifestation of it.
Jugnauth also hailed Prime Minister Modi's leadership, saying India had transformed under him and taken many initiatives to facilitate the less fortunate to have better access to opportunities.
The world applauds the impressive economic performance of India and the transformation of this country under your leadership Modi ji.
Your wish for a modern and prosperous India has inspired many initiatives like Skill India, Digital India, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Smart city, Start Up, India Swachch Bharat, Ayushman Bharat and many others.
These not only speak of your vision of a modern India, your attachment to respect for human dignity and inclusiveness but also your wish to ensure that development benefits all citizens, including the global community, he said, praising Modi's development initiatives.
He lauded India for spearheading the setting up of the International Solar Alliance.
Jugnauth said the diaspora connect was very important in the development journey.
He also thanked India for supporting Mauritius' development through various assistance projects.
Later, Jugnauth held talks with Modi on the sidelines of the event and the two leaders discussed ways to strengthen bilateral ties.