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- By ragee1318, March 3, 2012
- By GRN Reddy, February 27, 2012
- By manoj mishra, January 11, 2012
- By Damien, January 5, 2012
- By Damien, January 4, 2012
Mauritius to lease out two Indian Ocean islands to India
The Times of India, one of the most popular Indian English language dailies today reported that Mauritius is seriously considering leasing out the Aglega Islands to India. The news about the Indian lease was first reported during the 2006, but was quickly denied by the Mauritian authorities after the locals protested against the move. Political analysts said that the latest Mauritian move may be a tactic to counter the side-effects of the proposed GAAR (General Anti-Avoidance Rules) legislation, which may affect the investment inflows from India to tax havens such as Mauritius.
Arvin Boolell, the Mauritian foreign minister hinted at the move yesterday, when he said that it was up to India to utilize the islands to their maximum potential. The islands chain consists of two coral islands – the North Island and the South Island. They lie around 1,100 kilometres to the north of the Mauritian main island and are closer to India than the African mainland. Both the islands have a combined surface area of some 6,000 acres and have a resident population of around 300, scattered around in the villages of Vingt Cinq, La Fourche, and Sainte Rita.
The lease may be complicated by the fact that most of the resident population living on the islands belong to the Franco-Mauritian Creole ethnic group, a predominantly African community. Unlike the Indo-Mauritian majority of Mauritius, the Creoles are not too keen to live under the Indian administration. In 2006, the leaders of the community had expressed their opposition to any move to lease the islands to India.
Mauritius is having a very complex political system. The Indo-Mauritian community, numbering more than two-thirds of the population had always dominated the political scene since the independence, but recently there have been tensions between the Hindus (who constitute 52% of the national population) and the Muslims (16% of the population). Around 27% of the population is consisted of Creole, a predominantly African group, with the Whites and Chinese making up the remainder.
Considering the fact that the Aglega Islands are populated by the Creoles, any move by the Hindu dominated government to lease them out to India can cause serious political repercussions. Already there is a political crisis prevailing within the ruling Labour Party, due to the infighting between its leaders, Sir Anerood Jugnauth and his rival Navinchandra Ramgoolam.