The Telegraph
Friday , January 10 , 2014
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Island hunts for roots

Visitors from Mauritius today requested the state government to set up a nodal agency that they could contact to find their roots in Bihar.

The ties between the island nation on the southeast coast of Africa and Bihar date back to over a century ago. The ties were there for all to see on Thursday, the final day of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in New Delhi.

The Bihar team was expecting a no-show at the parallel state discussion, but scores of people turned up. A majority of them were from Mauritius and they requested the Bihar team, led by industries minister Renu Kumari, to provide them a nodal agency or a strong platform to contact for help in search of their roots.

They also knocked on the much-needed investment opportunities in different sectors such as tourism and food processing. Several visitors came to the Bihar section from Fiji, Burma, Trinidad and Tobago, Canada, Australia, Qatar and Guinea. Renu said: “The event was useful for the state. There were many potential investors and they have been provided with email IDs and contact numbers of senior officials in the department. It was good to see that most of them were looking of investment opportunities in the tourism sector. We told them about the opportunities the state can provide in different fields, like education, handicrafts and food processing among others.”

In the 19th century, Bihar was among the states from where people went to work in the sugar estates of Mauritius under the British regime. A majority of them settled down in the island nation.

P.K. Agarwal, the president of Bihar Chamber of Commerce and Industries, said: “Among the important points the Mauritians raised was the need for a platform which could help them discover their origins in Bihar. Among those looking for their roots was former vice-president of Mauritius (2002-2007) Raouf Bundhun. He urged for a strong platform. People asked about investment opportunities too.”

Sarita Budhu, the chairperson of the Bhojpuri Speaking Union in Mauritius, also invited the state delegation to Mauritius in November this year. “They are organising an International Bhojpuri Gathering on November 2 and invited Bihar. We will give our participation a serious thought,” said the official.

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